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Oath CEO Tim Armstrong Stepping Down Next Month

Chief operating officer K. Guru Gowrappan will take over the joint AOL-Yahoo venture

Last Updated: September 17, 2018 @ 12:13 PM

Tim Armstrong, CEO of Oath, Verizon’s digital media wing, is stepping down at the beginning of October and will be replaced by COO K. Guru Gowrappan, the company announced on Wednesday.

The decision comes after last week’s report that Armstrong was on his way out. Armstrong has been with Verizon since it acquired AOL in 2015.  He led the company’s 2017 acquisition of Yahoo and has been running Oath, Verizon’s joint AOL-Yahoo venture that’s home to several media outlets, including Huffington Post and TechCrunch.

Oath’s attempt to take on major digital advertisers like Facebook and Google has largely been in vain to this point, however, despite combining two legacy names in online media. The company accounts for less than 5 percent of U.S. online ad sales, according to the Wall Street Journal, which was first to report Armstrong’s exit.

Gowrappan, who joined Oath earlier this year from Alibaba, will take over on Oct. 1.

“Guru has proven experience in scaling businesses globally,” Verizon chief Hans Vestberg said in a statement. “I’m thrilled he will lead Oath in an exciting new phase of growth, building on the foundation Tim and his team have created.”

Armstrong, in a note to employees obtained by CNBC, said his 10-year run his team’s successes have “included turning around AOL while outperforming the market, strategically combining AOL with Verizon, and creating one of the largest digital assets in the world with the acquisition of Yahoo to create Oath.”

Armstrong’s exit could be a sign Verizon is looking to reconsider its media strategy. Vestberg recently signaled the company isn’t interested in buying premium content, similar to AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. And Verizon is considering whether to integrate parts of Oath’s business following Armstrong’s exit, according to the WSJ.