Sometime this summer, Verizon plans to rename two of its properties -- Yahoo and AOL -- as "Oath." The rebranding was apparently not meant to be made public just yet, but yesterday Business Insider cited unnamed sources who revealed the new company name.
Not long afterward, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong confirmed the Oath moniker on Twitter. "Billion+ Consumers, 20+ Brands, Unstoppable Team. #TakeTheOath. Summer 2017," Armstrong tweeted yesterday afternoon.
Verizon's $4.48 billion acquisition of core parts of Yahoo's business is expected to close sometime in the second quarter of this year. Verizon purchased AOL in 2015 for $4.4 billion.
While Verizon hasn't provided any more details about the rebranding, its AOL property posted a brief update online under the headline, "Why Oath? Why Now? What's Next?"
"Someone snitched," the update stated. "So now you know our name but just wait -- the fun really begins Summer 2017."
Among the AOL and Yahoo brands that will fall under the Oath banner after the latest Verizon deal is complete are BrightRoll, Engadget, Flickr, The Huffington Post, Kanvas, Makers, MovieFone, TechCrunch and Tumblr. Combined the 25-plus media and technology brands reach more than 1 billion people.
"With a house of brands as diverse as ours, we wanted a name that was values led -- one that honored our ultimate commitment of Building Brands People Love," the AOL statement said. "You won't see Oath everywhere. We'll put people and brands -- ours and yours -- first."
Comparisons to 'Tronc'
Quirky business names are nothing new: after all, Google, Twitter, Yahoo and Yelp weren't always household names. But the name Oath is being welcomed with some comparisons to another widely derided new corporate identity: the Tribune Company's 2016 rebranding as "Tronc."
Yesterday, USA Today sportwriter A.J. Perez tweeted this response: "Tribune Publishing: 'We will now be known as Tronc.' Verizon: 'Hold my beer.'"
Others on Twitter noted the new AOL-Yahoo name bears a close resemblance to "OAuth," the Open Authorization standard that enables online users to access third-party services without having to re-enter passwords for those account. "Waaaay too close to 'oauth' for 2 co.'s with massive data breaches," Twitter user Brad Dunshee said.
Last year, Yahoo revealed major security breaches that exposed account information of more than 1 billion user accounts. Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted four men, including two officers with Russia's FSB security agency, in connection with those hacks. In 2014, AOL also reported a security breach of its email service that's believed to have affected nearly a half million accounts.
Meanwhile, the parts of Yahoo that aren't being acquired by Verizon are also expected to be rebranded. Those business operations will be renamed "Altaba," according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last month.