“You can’t keep a good man down,” the old saying goes, but it appears you also can’t keep struggling internet businesses with historically significant brand names grounded, either. Or at least, not when private equity firms are waiting in the wings, ready to wave a chequebook.
Verizon has offloaded AOL and Yahoo to Apollo Global Management in a deal that’s said to be worth around NZ$7 billion – around half what the two brands combined cost the company when purchased in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
The two companies will now both be called Yahoo, presumably as the more appealing of the two brands, and Apollo says that between them they boast nearly 900 million monthly active users. That’s not just AOL and Yahoo branded sites – tech sites Techcrunch and Engadget are in the portfolio, too.
Apollo’s press release announcing the deal twice refers to its new acquisition as one of “the world’s premier global technology and media companies”, and at this point I would also like it on record that I’m one of the world’s premier athletes.
There was a time when Yahoo was worth NZ$176 billion, but those days are long gone, as the most recent sale price suggests. If you believe in the many worlds theory, there’s also an alternate reality where Yahoo saves the world by purchasing Facebook and then running it into the ground.
Nonetheless, its new owners are making the right optimistic – if somewhat corporate – noises on the press release. “We look forward to partnering with Yahoo’s talented employee base to build on the company’s strong momentum and position the new Yahoo for long-term success as a standalone consumer internet and digital media leader,” said Apollo’s Reed Rayman.
“We couldn’t be more excited about this next chapter for Yahoo as we look to invest in growth across the business, including accelerating its customer-first offerings and commerce capabilities, expanding its reach and enhancing the daily user experience.”
We shall have to wait and see how the new-look Yahoo performs. Perhaps it will flourish under new ownership, but at the same time, it wouldn’t be wholly surprising if we’re reading another press release announcing an exciting new beginning in just a few short years’ time.