Who owns Apollo Global Management? A look at AOL and Yahoo's new owner after $5B deal with Verizon
The internet's oldest brands get a new home again after Verizon sells off the companies for half of what it originally paid
Dinosaurs of the internet AOL and Yahoo have gotten a new home, again. This time, it is Apollo Global Management, who paid $5B to Verizon for the two companies. That's just over half of the $9B Verizon paid to acquire the two. The sale marks the end of Verizon's troubled experiments with media production and advertising.
Under the deal, Verizon will maintain a 10 per cent stake in Yahoo. It's the latest sale the company has made after giving away Tumblr in 2019 and HuffPost in 2020. Yahoo's new owner Apollo is a private equity firm that also owns the famous The Venetian resort and casino in Las Vegas and arts and crafts retailer Michaels.
Yahoo and AOL now join Apollo's vast empire as one of the biggest names in its portfolio. And that's saying something since Apollo also owns Chuck E Cheese, Claire's, CEVA Logistics, McGraw-Hill Education and Norwegian Cruise Line. How did the company manage to score so many high-profile investments? It's all down to their leadership and ownership.
Who owns Apollo?
Apollo is owned and operated by its managing partners Leon Black, Joshua Harris and Marc Rowan, along with its shareholders. The company also has over 400 investment professionals located at its offices in New York, New Delhi, Los Angeles, San Diego, London, Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Madrid, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo and Mumbai. The most important name here is Leon Black, who was forced to step down from his role as CEO and Chairman of the Board after links with Jeffery Epstein.
In January 2021, Black announced he was stepping down from the company after an expose found he paid $158M over five years to Epstein. Reportedly, Black paid Epstein for advice on tax avoidance and managed to save over $2B in taxes. A report by law firm Dechert cleared Black of any wrongdoing since technically the methods used by Epstein aren't illegal. Nonetheless, Black announced he would step down with Rowan taking on his role. He will, however, remain chairman of the board.
Harris is a well-known sports fan who is also the principal owner of the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia 76ers, and a general partner in Crystal Palace Football Club. Harris serves as Apollo's co-founder. He and his wife are also well-known philanthropists, donating millions over the years to multiple causes including education. In 2017, Harris famously met with Donald Trump officials to discuss infrastructure and there were even rumors of a possible White House job. Most importantly though, Apollo loaned $184M to Kushner Companies later that year for a Chicago skyscraper. Reportedly, Harris was not involved in that transaction.
Apollo's third partner, Rowan, has replaced Black as Apollo's CEO. Unlike his colleagues, there's considerably less controversy surrounding his name. Rowan serves on the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. He also donated $50M in 2018, the largest single gift in Wharton’s history. Rowan also serves on the board of other companies but is best known for his work with Apollo.
Yahoo and AOL, once considered giants of the internet, have quickly fallen out of favor with companies and consumers alike. It's unclear what exactly Apollo plans for the two businesses, but their sale has certainly attracted a lot of attention. The news has got plenty of people talking online, particularly about how this is Yahoo's newest home as the company struggles to stay relevant in a drastically changing media landscape. Journalist Nilay Patel tweeted, "Funny to think we all quit our AOL jobs to start The Verge almost exactly 10 years ago and they still haven’t figured anything out."
Funny to think we all quit our AOL jobs to start The Verge almost exactly 10 years ago and they still haven’t figured anything out https://t.co/Zq0rPpkUeY— nilay patel (@reckless) April 28, 2021
Insider CEO Henry Blodget tweeted, "Everyone talking like this is some terrible disaster. At least they got $5 billion. Could have been a lot worse (and has been!)." Another noted, "Yahoo was the very first website I visited on my own. This was at the school computer lab when I was 9. From a valuation of over $44.6 bn to less than $5 billion, I feel sad seeing Yahoo's descent into irrelevance." Another joked, "Yahoo, AOL like that holiday fruitcake no one wants, keeps being re-gifted."
Everyone talking like this is some terrible disaster. At least they got $5 billion. Could have been a lot worse (and has been!) https://t.co/v4lIF2A6fr— Henry Blodget (@hblodget) May 3, 2021
Yahoo was the very first website I visited on my own. This was at the school computer lab when I was 9.— Chanuka Wijayakoon (@_merovingienne_) May 3, 2021
From a valuation of over $44.6 bn to less than $5 billion, I feel sad seeing Yahoo's descent into irrelevance.https://t.co/bfeR99TKGG.
Yahoo, AOL like that holiday fruitcake no one wants, keeps being re-gifted.— Dan DeRobertis 💋 (@chagmed) May 3, 2021
According to reports, Apollo is paying $4.25B in cash for a 90 per cent share in the company, with the deal set to close by the second half of 2021. Yahoo will continue to be led by its current CEO Guru Gowrappan.