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Apollo Global Management Inc. is naming Tinder Chief Executive Jim Lanzone the new CEO of Yahoo, the digital-media business it acquired from Verizon Communications Inc. earlier this year, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Lanzone will succeed Guru Gowrappan, the former Verizon executive who has overseen Yahoo since 2018 and continued running the company after Apollo agreed to purchase it for about $5 billion. Mr. Gowrappan will become a senior adviser to Apollo’s private-equity business.
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Mr. Lanzone, a 23-year veteran of the digital-media industry, joined Tinder last year and revamped its product design, adding features such as an explore section that allows users to find matches based on their interests. Mr. Lanzone was earlier chief executive of CBS Interactive, where he launched the CBS All Access streaming service that was a precursor to ViacomCBS Inc.’s Paramount+ service.
When he starts on Sept. 27, Mr. Lanzone will take the reins of a digital-media company that once vied with Alphabet Inc.’s Google to be the world’s primary internet portal. But Yahoo—which also owns AOL—has seen its dominance wane in recent decades as it changed hands and underwent several strategic pivots.
Despite that, Yahoo’s properties and services are still popular with users. The company has about 900 million monthly active users, which makes it a heavyweight in the digital-advertising arena. Yahoo has posted three consecutive quarters of double-digit revenue growth, one of the people said.
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Yahoo was previously led by Marissa Mayer, the former Google executive who took over as CEO in 2012. Ms. Mayer’s tenure was marked by low employee morale, high executive turnover and fading ad revenue. She helped steer a deal to sell Yahoo’s web assets to Verizon in 2017.
Yahoo was later overseen by Tim Armstrong, the former chief executive of AOL who advocated for Verizon’s purchase of the internet giant. Mr. Armstrong orchestrated an ambitious and short-lived plan to turn the properties into a digital-advertising colossus that could compete with tech giants like Google and Facebook Inc. under the new name Oath. Those efforts were unsuccessful and Mr. Armstrong left the company in 2018.
Mr. Lanzone sees major opportunities for the company, according to a person familiar with the matter. He plans on growing key divisions that are already popular with users, including Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Sports and the company’s advertising technology products. He may eventually explore spinning those divisions out as stand-alone companies, or take the entire company public, the person said.
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Mr. Lanzone believes that many assets within Yahoo’s portfolio are positioned to benefit from trends propelling growth across the industry, the person said. Yahoo Sports could cash in on the sports-betting craze spurred by the wave of legalization across the U.S. Yahoo Finance could capitalize on the increasing popularity of online trading by individual investors and the rise of cryptocurrency. Mr. Lanzone is also considering mergers and acquisitions to fuel the growth of Yahoo’s most popular products.
Mr. Lanzone’s immediate priorities will include a review of user data to better understand the company’s audience and identify growth opportunities within Yahoo’s portfolio, the person said. He will also focus on improving the design, performance and functionality of Yahoo’s products to make them more attractive to users.
Write to Benjamin Mullin at [email protected]
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