Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg isn't ready to ditch the telecom company's media unit, but he tells Axios it will have to make money without leveraging data from the company's wireless and wireline subscribers.

Why it matters: This is a sharp departure from the company's original premise for buying Yahoo and AOL: that Verizon could use its detailed data on subscribers to take on Google and Facebook, which together dominate digital advertising.

In an interview with Axios, Vestberg says the former AOL and Yahoo businesses "need to survive on their merits."

  • Though he's mostly focused on 5G and the company's massive wireless and wireline businesses, Vestberg says he sees potential in the content operation.
  • Content is particularly strong in parts of Yahoo's operations in sports, finance and entertainment, which lend themselves to video programming, he says.
  • But he adds the company will prioritize the responsibilities it has to those paying it for network services.
"We're not trying to mimic a Facebook or Google. We don’t think that's the right way to do that."
— Hans Vestberg

By the numbers: Verizon doesn't break out the profitability of its media business, but it said in November that the unit wouldn't meet its goal of becoming a $10 billion-a-year business by 2021.

  • Vestberg, who has been Verizon CEO for less than a year after 28 at Ericsson, says it's too soon to determine if there may be divestitures within the media business.

He has already started making other changes. Late last year, Vestberg implemented a strategy he calls "Verizon 2.0." The effort includes:

  • Shaking up the company's leadership ranks.
  • Reorganizing into 3 businesses: consumer, business and Verizon Media Group.
  • Outsourcing a chunk of the company's IT operations to Infosys.
  • Accepting voluntary buyouts from more than 10,000 workers.

Why? The changes are designed to help the company fully take advantage of the next generation of cellular technology. 5G is just starting to reach consumers, but over time has the potential to create whole new lines of business.

  • One of the earliest opportunities is to take the kind of network that Verizon is building for itself and sell a version to large businesses looking to speed up and automate their own corporate campuses, according to Vestberg.
  • Additional opportunities range from health care to smart cities, as 5G networks become more advanced and ubiquitous. Those areas require lots of wireless spectrum, dense networks and fiber — all of which Verizon has, he says.

One area where Verizon still has room to improve, Vestberg notes, is to take a more active role in the businesses that are built using its high-speed connections.

  • "Much of the innovation came on top of the network in 4G," he says. Customers still benefitted, but he would like to see Verizon get more involved this time around.
  • That doesn't necessarily mean the company needs to build every product, but "we need to be part of that innovation."

Go deeper

Updated 28 mins ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

44 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.