Rebranding a company often signals a fresh start, or a reassessment of what an organisation has become, or an attempt to persuade a different demographic to see you in a new, more modern light.
I sympathised with Standard Life Aberdeen’s move last week to remove its vowels and rebrand as Abrdn in order to appeal more to the young and digital savvy. There have been far worse examples, such as the Post Office rebranding as Consignia in 2001. The worst internet rebrand I can recall is the hubris shown by the Japanese group Rakuten to change the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin retail site Buy.com to Rakuten.com after it bought it in 2010.
The most retro rebranding of the year so far has to be Verizon Media being renamed Yahoo this week. It appears of dubious worth. Yahoo was founded back in 1994 as a listings site for the nascent graphical web. It gave itself a self-deprecating acronym that stood for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle. It was actually the best of its kind back then, but became something of a joke in the 2000s, being seen as the Silicon Valley company that was first to “get” the internet yet had signally failed to capitalise on its achievement.
Yahoo is rising again because the US private equity group Apollo Global Management agreed to acquire the media assets of Verizon Communications for $5bn on Monday. It could have renamed them Apollo Media rather than Verizon Media, but that would be starting from scratch in terms of brand-building. Oath — the old name for the media companies rolled up by Verizon — was an awful meaningless brand, dispensed with by Verizon’s current CEO, and was never going to be revived. AOL was an option, but that brand has been damaged ever since its disastrous merger with Time Warner in 2000 and, in my eyes, since it sent me the 200th CD urging me to install the service.
So it is Yahoo redux. Outside China, it still ranks as the fifth most popular website in the world and remains one of the most visited websites in the US, with almost 3.8bn visits in March and 900m monthly active users. Lex points out Verizon Media pulled in $1.9bn in revenues in the first quarter, despite being no match for the Facebook/Google digital ad leviathan.
Ad revenues aside, Apollo aims to bring a focus to Yahoo and Verizon’s media properties that they have lacked for so long. It will concentrate on turning Yahoo Sports into a powerful online gaming and sports betting platform and make Yahoo Finance a gateway to accessing financial services products. It’s a long way from being the web’s complete address book, but that business went out the window when we all learnt to Google.
1. Investors turn against techUS tech stocks are on course for their worst daily performance since mid-March. A strong quarterly earnings season is drawing to a close and investors are asking whether the big winners of the pandemic can sustain their performance.
2. Tiger on the prowl for new fundIt may not be as well known as SoftBank, but Tiger Global Management has taken part in 100 investment rounds in just over 120 days that have raised a total of $22.2bn for private tech companies, according to data from PitchBook. It now wants to create another huge pool of capital for start-ups by raising a $10bn fund from investors, reports Miles Kruppa. Miles has also been writing for the Big Read on how Spacs, which raise money from investors to search for a company, complete a merger and take it public, have suddenly lost their lustre — not least in the eyes of regulators.
3. Apple’s Epic confrontationIn opening statements for the Epic Games vs Apple court case, the iPhone maker accused Epic of a “fundamental assault” on a business model that has enriched millions of developers. Epic said the 30 per cent cut Apple takes for App Store sales leaves users and developers “trapped” in an anti-competitive marketplace. Also, check out Patrick McGee’s Big Read on the ins and outs of IDFA, Apple’s controversial changes to its privacy policies.
4. Trustly IPO postponedTrustly has postponed its proposed $9bn stock market flotation after Swedish regulators raised concerns about the payment company’s lack of due diligence on its end customers. The planned initial public offering was due to be one of the biggest by a fintech company in Europe this year.
5. Struggle over the semi supply chainThe global chip shortage is set to ignite a power struggle between chip manufacturers and their customers about how the industry’s supply chain works and who pays the costs of carrying inventory. In an FT interview, the chief executive of STMicroelectronics Jean-Marc Chéry said that customers would have to accept that their “dream is over”.
Wi-Fi and app-connected digital scales can measure the state of your health these days, as well as weighing your kilogrammes or pounds. The latest feature introduced by Withings today on its Body Cardio scale is Vascular Age. To quote Withings: “Developed by leading cardiologists, Vascular Age provides a daily, easy-to-understand assessment of arterial health. It accomplishes this by showing people how their cardiovascular health compares to the norms expected within their age bracket, with an estimate of their inner heart age and an indication of whether it is optimum, normal, or not optimum for their chronological age.”
The scale does this by measuring Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV) — the speed at which the blood pressure pulse propagates through the circulatory system. Body Cardio can measure PWV from the heart to the feet due to the tiny weight variations as the heart beats. The Body Cardio can be updated with the new feature and the scales for new users sell for $150 (£130).