Oath CEO Tim Armstrong to Leave the Verizon Unit

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Verizon Communications
Inc.


VZ 0.46%

said Oath Chief Executive Tim Armstrong will depart the media and advertising business at year-end, and named K. Guru Gowrappan as the subsidiary’s next CEO.

Mr. Gowrappan will become chief executive Oct. 1, Verizon said Wednesday. He has served as Oath’s president and chief operating officer since April. The former

Alibaba Group


BABA 2.54%

executive will report to Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg.

Mr. Armstrong, Oath’s founder, will help advise the Verizon subsidiary’s management with its transition efforts before leaving the company at the end of year, Verizon said. He will report to Verizon Chairman Lowell McAdam.

Mr. Gowrappan, who was Alibaba’s global managing director, focused on international expansion for consumer and enterprise products while at the Chinese e-commerce giant. Previously, he was chief operating officer at Quixey, a mobile startup, and prior to that he was the COO for growth and emerging initiatives at

Zynga
.

He has also held several leadership roles at

Yahoo


AABA 3.47%

and Overture.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported Mr. Armstrong was in talks to depart, according to people that were familiar with the matter.

The Journal reported that Verizon and Oath executives have disagreed over what some employees within the digital ad unit see as an overly conservative approach to using wireless subscriber data to boost Oath’s advertising revenue, people familiar with those discussions had said.

Mr. Armstrong, who joined AOL in 2009, went to Verizon in 2015 when it acquired AOL. He was named Oath’s CEO in 2017 and helped steer its purchase of Yahoo. He had tried to combine the two internet companies to challenge Google and

Facebook
Inc.

in digital advertising.

But those efforts so far have failed to generate much growth or make Oath more than a side note in the wireless giant’s earnings. Oath contributed less than $4 billion in revenue during the first half of the year, compared with the wireless business’s $44 billion.

Verizon spent roughly $9 billion to buy AOL in 2015 and Yahoo in 2017. Owning two names synonymous with the early days of the internet provided a path for Verizon to become a competitor in media and advertising even though the companies represented less than 5% of U.S. digital ad revenue.

The largest U.S. carrier by subscribers rolled the two brands into one unit under Mr. Armstrong’s leadership, saying it offered a chance to marry data on more than 100 million wireless customers with roughly one billion monthly online visitors to sites such as HuffPost, TechCrunch and Yahoo Sports.

2018-09-12 19:45:30

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