Oath, we hardly knew ye.
Less than two years after Verizon unveiled Oath as the name for the merged AOL-Yahoo internet group, the telco announced that the name will be discontinued, with Oath to be renamed the “Verizon Media Group” as of Jan. 8, 2019.
Oath has been a disappointment for Verizon: The telco spent nearly $10 billion to acquire Yahoo and AOL. The theory was that they would achieve greater scale together — but Oath didn’t deliver the hoped-for synergies and has lost share to digital-ad rivals. After Oath revenue declined 6.9% in Q3, last week Verizon disclosed a $4.6 billion charge related to Oath for the fourth quarter of 2018, a write-down representing the elimination of nearly the entire goodwill balance of $4.8 billion that Verizon was carrying on its balance sheet for the Oath acquisitions.
The Oath name, ridiculed when the name leaked out, was meant to reflect “the promises we make to each other, our consumers, our customers and our partners,” the company said at the time.
Verizon appointed Guru Gowrappan, a former Alibaba exec, as Oath CEO in Oct. 1. He took over for Tim Armstrong, the ex-CEO of AOL who had been one of the chief engineers of the Oath strategy, who left the company.
In announcing Verizon Media Group as the new name, Gowrappan tried to emphasize positive recent developments, including the launch of its unified ad platforms and a new multipurpose Yahoo app. “[A]s part of one Verizon, we’re growing our work on tomorrow’s technologies — XR, AI, machine-learning, mobile-edge computing, 5G and more,” Gowrappan wrote. “These are the building blocks of how we will continue to evolve our member-centric ecosystem with much more to come.”
Brands in the Verizon Media Group include HuffPost, TechCrunch, Engadget, AOL.com, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance, RYOT, MAKERS, Tumblr, Build Studios, Yahoo Mail and Verizon Digital Media Services. In the past year, Verizon has offloaded a few Oath properties, including Flickr (acquired by SmugMug) and Moviefone (sold to MoviePass parent Helios & Matheson Analytics).