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Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Verizon on Monday announced that it will sell its digital media unit, including Yahoo and AOL, to private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

Details: Apollo will pay $5 billion for a 90% stake in the business, with Verizon retaining a 10% stake. It's a slightly higher price than what was expected, but still far short of the $9 billion that Verizon paid to acquire the businesses.

  • Verizon had previously sold former Yahoo properties HuffPost (to BuzzFeed) and Tumblr (to Automattic), but for nominal amounts.

Between the lines: Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg joined the company after the Yahoo purchase, and quickly let it be known that he wanted Verizon's growth to come from networking, not content creation.

  • Apollo, meanwhile, is one of very few big buyout firms to remain enamored with legacy media. It helped bankroll a 2019 merger involving newspaper publisher Gannett, and also bought up a bunch of TV and radio stations from Cox Communications.

History: Both the Yahoo and AOL acquisitions were meant to give Verizon lots of data so that it could sell targeted advertising against its media assets. AT&T, a rival phone company, tried to do the same thing with its acquisition of Time Warner's media assets in 2018.

  • It quickly became clear that the data-based ad play wouldn't work. Tim Armstrong, who was hired in 2015 to run the operation, left abruptly in 2018, and media group revenues were lower for this past quarter than they were in Q3 2017.
  • More recently, Verizon tried to lean into subscriptions, bundling together paid tiers of some of its flagship products, like Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Sports. It's likely that the little success they've experienced putting some of the few remaining Yahoo assets behind a paywall is what was attractive to Apollo.

Go deeper

Aug 10, 2021 - Economy & Business

Investment in digital media slows, years after venture-backed boom

Expand chart
Data: Pitchbook; Table: Axios Visuals

Media upstarts are attracting far less cash compared to the venture-backed media boom of 2014 and 2015, according to new data from Pitchbook.

Why it matters: Investors are no longer willing to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars on new digital media sites, given how long it's taken for some of those investments to materialize and drive major returns.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
4 mins ago - Health

Health care workers hit new breaking point

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The ranks of health care workers are dwindling and stretching what it means to be reaching their "breaking points," particularly at small nonprofit hospitals.

The big picture: Even as Omicron cases have begun to wane in some places, many hospitals are still fielding a crush of patients amid record employee callouts.

Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial

Sarah Palin. Photo: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, delaying the start of her defamation trial against the New York Times.

Why it matters: The trial will be closely watched, as it's a rare instance of a major media company defending its editorial practices before an American jury.