It’s official: Tim Armstrong is leaving Verizon’s digital advertising unit, Oath, at the end of the year, with K. Guru Gowrappan taking over the chief executive officer (CEO) duties.
Verizon Communications announced that, effective October 1, Gowrappan, who has served as Oath’s president and chief operating officer (COO) since April, will assume all management responsibilities at Oath as CEO. He will report to Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg.
This came on the heels of the announcement that Armstrong would be leaving the company that he helped found. Before Oath, Armstrong was chief of AOL and saw the transition of that company’s assets with Yahoo to form Oath in 2017.
Armstrong will help guide the Verizon subsidiary’s management transition efforts as a strategic advisor before leaving the company at the end of 2018. He will report to Verizon Chairman Lowell McAdam.
With the integration of AOL/Yahoo operations and ad tech platforms nearing completion under Armstrong’s strategic direction, Gowrappan, who joined Oath from Alibaba Group, will lead the next phase of Oath’s global growth strategy, according to a release by Verizon.
Vestberg said: “Guru has proven experience in scaling businesses globally. I’m thrilled he will lead Oath in an exciting new phase of growth, building on the foundation Tim and his team have created by delivering brands our customers love.”
TechCrunch, which is owned by Oath, reported that Armstrong wrote an internal memo to the company, stating this: “While there has been and will be speculation about these changes, there are a few important signals that should not get lost in the noise,” he wrote. “The first is that the world has gone digital and few companies have both mobile and digital assets at our scale. Add to that the backing of the best mobile company in the world – Verizon – and Oath has all of the right pieces to succeed. The second point is that things take time. It took more than two and a half years to turn AOL around; Oath is just over a year old and the first year was spent integrating the post-Yahoo auction assets and working through the data breach related issues. It is going to take time for Oath to reach its full potential.”
Verizon stated that in his former role as president and COO, Gowrappan was responsible for the day-to-day operating businesses at Oath, including all of the consumer and customer brands, operations, products and technology.
As Alibaba’s global managing director, Gowrappan focused on international expansion for key consumer and enterprise products across ecommerce, entertainment and media, payments and the entire commerce-enabling stack. Previously, he was COO at Quixey, a mobile startup, and prior to that he was the COO for growth/emerging initiatives at Zynga. He has also held several leadership roles at Yahoo and Overture.
Armstrong joined AOL in 2009 and was named Oath’s CEO in 2017. He has led Verizon’s digital media and online advertising platform business, and the growth and development of iconic consumer brands such as AOL, Yahoo, RYOT, TechCrunch, HuffPost, Makers and many others.
“We are exceedingly grateful to Tim for his contributions in founding Oath as a force in digital media and technology,” said McAdam. “With his continued guidance over the next few months, our enthusiasm for Oath’s potential has never been greater.”
Back in May, Armstrong had confirmed his commitment to the company, with rumors that he might be in line for the top position at WPP.