Armstrong’s plans to leave Verizon were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Armstrong was previously CEO of AOL, which Verizon bought in a $4.4 billion deal, and he then led the formation of Oath after the telco acquired Yahoo for $4.5 billion last year. Armstrong had touted Oath as a large-scale digital media powerhouse — with more than 1 billion aggregate unique users globally — to take on Facebook and Google.
But Verizon’s appetite for the content business has from all appearances cooled since Oath’s creation. The company named Han Vestberg, the ex-CEO of Ericsson hired at CTO in 2017, as its new chief executive as of Aug. 1 — a move signaling Verizon’s focus on wireless infrastructure and its 5G rollouts in particular. Vestberg took the helm from Lowell McAdam, set to retire at the end of 2018, who had overseen the rollup of AOL and Yahoo.
Meanwhile, Verizon this summer shut down Go90, its ad-supported mobile-video service, taking a $900 million hit against Q2 earnings mostly related to the Go90 shuttering. Verizon, along with co-owners NBCUniversal and Hearst, also sold its stake in Awesomeness to Viacom.
Along with Armstrong, two other Oath execs are set to depart in the next month, according to sources: CFO Vanessa Wittman, who joined the company in early 2018 after previously serving as chief financial officer at Dropbox, Motorola, and Marsh & McLennan; and chief communications officer Natalie Ravitz, who joined Oath in May from the NFL.
A Verizon spokeswoman declined to comment on or confirm the imminent exits of Armstrong, Wittman and Ravitz.
For now, Oath COO Guru Gowrappan — whom Armstrong recruited in April — is remaining with the Verizon unit. Gowrappan previously was managing director at Alibaba Group, the Chinese internet giant.
The shakeup in Oath’s executive ranks also comes after Marni Walden, formerly Verizon’s EVP and president of global media, stepped down at the end of 2017 after it became clear she was not in contention for the CEO job at the telco. Walden had been the key architect of the company’s acquisition of Yahoo and the formation of Oath.