Verizon CEO said shift away from content didn't cause Oath CEO's exit

Verizon Hans Vestberg (Verizon)
Hans Vestberg (Verizon)

Verizon confirmed this month that Oath CEO Tim Armstrong is departing the company, but CEO Hans Vestberg said it doesn’t have anything to do with the company’s shift away from media.

Under Vestberg, Verizon plans to focus on its network and building out its 5G service. After attempts at building a streaming TV service fell through and the company’s Go90 video platform shut down, Verizon has said it’s leaving the content business to other companies. But that decision didn’t influence Armstrong’s exit, Vestberg told CNBC.

“There’s no correlation. I think that team has done tremendous work to put together the Oath asset,” said Vestberg. “Our ad tech platform he has put together is now ready for launch both on a supply and demand side, and we have our different channels that we stood up. So, I think it’s just a natural transition.”

Earlier this month, Verizon announced that K. Guru Gowrappan, who has served as Oath’s president and chief operating officer since April, will take over as CEO. Armstrong is sticking around until the end of 2018 in an advisory role.

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Vestberg also clarified that just because Verizon is not interested in owning linear television content, it still values the sports, entertainment and finance content that comes out of Oath’s various properties.

Earlier this month, Verizon announced a new unified product, Oath Ad Platforms, which combines the assets from BrightRoll, ONE by AOL and Yahoo Gemini into a set of solutions that utilize all of Oath’s data, inventory, ad experience capabilities and programmatic algorithms.

Coincidentally, this week Dish Network CEO Erik Carlson also explained his company’s willingness to stay out of the content market as giants like AT&T, Comcast and Disney make deals to expand their content portfolios. Carlson told Bloomberg that Dish would rather rely on partnerships for content while focusing on distribution and its nascent 5G network.