In March this year, four individuals, including two Russian spies, were charged with the 2014 theft of 500 million Yahoo! users’ account information by the Department of Justice This was one of the largest data breaches in Internet history. In August 2013, Yahoo! had to contend with another such major breach although both the incidents were officially reported by the company, only in 2016.
In the aftermath of these events, the company lost its good will and credibility to a large extent. On April 4, Yahoo emerged with a new name and new entity called ‘OATH’, (presumably) in an attempt to regain some of its lost ground.
Yahoo.Inc and AOL.com were Internet pioneers during the mid-90s. However, Yahoo received some major blows after the multiple data breaches that resulted in value attrition. Verizon acquired Yahoo’s internet assets for $4.48 billion after negotiating $350 million discount. As per Verizon, only the junk was lost in both the data breach incidents.
Tim Armstrong (Chief Executive, AOL) tweeted on 4th April 2017 “Billion + consumers, 20+Brands, Unstoppable team #TakeTheOath. Summer 2017”, and accounced the merger of Yahoo and AOL.
Image Source: techcrunch.com
More than the merger, the ‘naming’ became the talking point. It was panned on various social media platforms and Twitter users compared it with last year’s ‘tronc’. For the uninitiated, Tronc Inc. (erstwhile Tribune Publishing) came up with the genius idea of stylizing themselves as tronc (short for Tribune Online Content). This, they thought would be enough to draw more people to read (and hear) them. We are not quite sure if the ‘stylization’ had the desired effect.
According to Denial Roberts (Finance Reporter, Yahoo!) “Yahoo! is not going away, the company is going to include AOL properties”. But it doesn’t mean Yahoo!’s properties will get a new name.
Verizon is also planning to change the brand name on Yahoo’s core properties that could affect the current users, who still visit those websites. Well, Yahoo Mail and Yahoo News are the most visited websites and are followed by millions of people. Changing the name might confuse some of the users and could drive them away.
But Tim Armstrong insists: “Oath is value based brand. It actually clears the lane for us to really promote Yahoo and AOL and TechCrunch and Huffington Post and Moviefone”. He further added: “Some of the reaction you see to the brand is short-term thinking. Where ‘Oath ‘is a value base brand, Verizon has long term strategies in media space. It is big believer in brand, huge believer in long term commitment. Verizon is focusing on business module side and brand advertising”
Well, let’s see if Oath brings back Yahoo!’s glory days, at least in some measure.