Verizon Exiting Media Biz, Selling Dotcom Pioneers Yahoo, AOL to Private Equity Group

 Verizon is leaving the media brands business. The telecom and Apollo Global Management on May 3 announced an agreement for Apollo to acquire a majority stake in Verizon Media for $5 billion. Verizon will retain a 10% stake in the company, which will be known as Yahoo at close of the transaction and continue to be led by CEO Guru Gowrappan.

Verizon Media brands include Yahoo, AOL, Huffpost, TechCrunch, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Sports, among others. Under the agreement, Verizon will receive $4.25 billion in cash, preferred interests of $750 million and retain a 10% stake in Verizon Media. The transaction is subject to satisfaction of certain closing conditions and expected to close in the second half of 2021.

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Apollo Global Management also owns Redbox, which it acquired in 2016 for $1.6 billion.

The corporate carve out will allow Verizon Media to pursue growth areas and stands to benefit its employees, advertisers, publishing partners and nearly 900 million monthly active users worldwide.

“The past two quarters of double-digit growth have demonstrated our ability to transform our media ecosystem,” Gowrappan said in a statement. “With Apollo’s sector expertise and strategic insight, Yahoo will be well positioned to capitalize on market opportunities, media and transaction experience and continue to grow our full stack digital advertising platform. This transition will help to accelerate our growth for the long- term success of the company.”

Reed Rayman, private equity partner at Apollo, said the deal will help the company expand “tremendous potential” of Yahoo and its collection of media brands.

“We have enormous respect and admiration for the great work and progress that the entire organization has made over the last several years, and we look forward to working with Guru, his talented team, and our partners at Verizon to accelerate Yahoo’s growth in its next chapter,” Rayman said.

“Apollo has a long track record of investing in technology and media companies and we look forward to drawing on that experience to help Yahoo continue to thrive,” added David Sambur, senior partner and co-head of private equity at Apollo.

“Verizon Media has done an incredible job turning the business around over the past two and a half years and the growth potential is enormous,” said Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon. “The next iteration requires full investment and the right resources. During the strategic review process, Apollo delivered the strongest vision and strategy for the next phase of Verizon Media. I have full confidence that Yahoo will take off in its new home.”

Verizon Media reported strong, diversified year-over-year revenue growth the past two quarters, driven by innovative ad offerings, consumer ecommerce, subscriptions, betting and strategic partnerships. Yahoo, one of the best recognized digital media brands in the world and the fourth most visited internet property globally, continues to evolve as a key destination for finance and news among Gen Z. This was most recently marked by Yahoo News becoming the fastest growing news organization on TikTok.

Documentary on First AIDS Ward Coming Home in August

Home release dates have been set for 5B, a documentary about the world’s first AIDS ward in 1980s San Francisco and the nurses who put everything on the line to care for patients society had discarded.

The film, which recently had its international premiere at Cannes and U.S. premiere at LA Pride, will be released by Verizon Media via Fios TV on Aug. 20 for an exclusive one-week in-home engagement. The film will subsequently be released on demand beginning Aug. 27.

5B will be available for rent or purchase on over 1,000 platforms including Amazon Video, FandangoNow, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft Movies & TV, Redbox On Demand, Sony Playstation, and VUDU, as well as cable providers AT&T U-Verse, Charter, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV, Dish, Spectrum and Verizon Fios.

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In support of the film​, Jackson Browne and Grammy Award-nominee Leslie Mendelson co-released “A Human Touch” alongside writer Steve McEwan as the title song of ​5B.​ The track’s official music video was recorded using clips from the film to highlight the  connection between the caregivers at Ward 5B and the patients who resided there. The video is now available to view on Jackson Browne’s official ​YouTube page. Browne and Mendelson have been performing the song live during Browne’s summer concert tour, which continues through August.

5B focuses on the caregivers to worked in the first HIV/AIDS ward unit in the United States at San Francisco General Hospital, which opened in 1983.

Presented by RYOT, a Verizon Media company, ​5B ​premiered as an Official Selection of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The film returned to Cannes for the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where it took home the Cannes Lions Grand Prix: Entertainment along with an additional gold and two silver Lions.

After its June 2019 limited theatrical release, ​5B has gone on to appear at over 130 festivals and events worldwide and will next appear as an Official Selection of the Deauville American Film Festival in September and the Heartland International Film Festival later this year.

Yahoo! Opens Paris Production Facility for Original Mobile Content

Verizon Media subsidiary Yahoo! has opened a production facility, Ryot Studio, in Paris aimed at creating original content for mobile device distribution in France.

With about 13 million unique monthly visitors and 5 million active users, Yahoo! France believes the studio will help create content specific to the local and regional market.

Designed to look like kitchen/living room, the studio features a series of interchangeable decors aimed at making video content totally different from TV shows.

The facility is adding staff across technical, production, presentation, program management, while Verizon Media expands its social media teams.

“I created a team composed of talents, strong personalities, each capable of bringing their universe, and to share it freely,” Alexandre Delperier, senior director and head of content for Yahoo! France, said in a statement. “We claim a different, creative, even playful approach, whether it is information, entertainment or sports. And this tool will allow us to gain even more responsiveness.”

The studio represents a forward move for Verizon, which has had little over-the-top video success in the United States. The telecom last year wrote off almost $1 billion in losses from the failed Go90 ad-supported mobile app targeting younger consumers on their cellphone.

Yahoo! France hopes to reverse the trend.

“We have a true role to play in the media landscape, not only as an aggregator but also as a content producer of our own formats,” Delperier said.

The studio will also offer third-party content, including political shows, news, NBA, tennis and soccer.

“This studio will serve both our editorial ambitions and the enrichment of our advertising offer,” said Erik-Marie Bion, VP, Verizon Media France and Germany. “We will be able to offer our customers new formats and user experiences.”