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Corporate deals

DEAL: Verizon sells Yahoo, AOL for $5 billion to private equity firm

The $5 billion sales by Verizon is about half the price it bought the 2 firms a few years back.

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DEAL: Verizon sells Yahoo, AOL for $5 billion to private equity firm

American wireless network operator, Verizon, on Monday, announced the sales of faded web service providers Yahoo and AOL to a private equity firm for $5 billion, ending the media ambitions of the telecoms giant.

The transaction with Apollo Global Management has the entire Verizon Media unit and the advertising tech operations of the two brands as part of the deal.

According to a statement issued by Verizon, it will retain a 10% stake in the company which will continue to be led by its Chief Executive, Guru Gowarappan.

The sale will see online media brands under the former Yahoo and AOL umbrellas like TechCrunch, Yahoo Finance and Engadget go to Apollo. Verizon bought AOL for $4.4 billion in 2015 and it bought Yahoo for $4.5 billion in 2017.

There had been increasing evidence recently that Verizon wanted to sell off its media properties and instead focus on its wireless networks and other internet provider businesses.

READ: Google’s advertising revenue plunges

Private equity partner at Apollo, Reed Rayman, said, “We are thrilled to help unlock the tremendous potential of Yahoo and its unparalleled collection of brands. We have enormous respect and admiration for the great work and progress that the entire organization has made over the last several years, and we look forward to working with Guru, his talented team, and our partners at Verizon to accelerate Yahoo’s growth in its next chapter.”

Apollo’s David Sambur also said, “We are big believers in the growth prospects of Yahoo and the macro tailwinds driving growth in digital media, advertising technology and consumer internet platforms.”

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He pointed out that their goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting.

What you should know

  • It can be recalled that Verizon, in 2017, purchased Yahoo for about $4.5 billion, ending the run for one of the storied brands of the early internet. It later merged Yahoo into its division with AOL, another star of the early internet era, which Verizon acquired in 2015.
  • Both AOL and Yahoo lost traction and lofty market valuations as internet users shifted to newer platforms such as Google and Facebook.
  • The purchase was meant to give Verizon a pathway into mobile, with the goal of using AOL’s advertising technology to sell ads against digital content. Verizon doubled down on that strategy in 2017 with its acquisition of Yahoo, which it combined with AOL under the umbrella Oath.
  • The $5 billion sales by Verizon is about half the price it bought the 2 firms a few years back.

Chike Olisah is a graduate of accountancy with over 15 years working experience in the financial service sector. He has worked in research and marketing departments of three top commercial banks. Chike is a senior member of the Nairametrics Editorial Team. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]

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Corporate deals

DEAL: AJUA, leading customer experience platform acquires Kenyan-based AI firm, WayaWaya

WayaWaya founder and lead Janja product builder, Teddy Ogallo, joins Ajua as VP of Product APIs and Integrations.

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For an undisclosed sum, Ajua, the integrated Customer Experience Management solution for businesses in Africa, has acquired WayaWaya, the Kenya-based Artificial Intelligence [AI] and Machine Learning [ML] company known for its innovative Janja platform that enables borderless banking and payments across apps and social media platforms.

WayaWaya founder and lead Janja product builder, Teddy Ogallo, joins Ajua as VP of Product APIs and Integrations.

Launched in 2012, Ajua was built to solve the customer experience gap for businesses on the continent to drive business growth. Ajua combines technology with customer experience and has built a number of innovative products that deliver real-time customer feedback at the point of service, for small and large businesses across Africa, with the goal to digitalize and power growth for over 45 million SMEs. Current Ajua infrastructure partners and clients include GoodLife Pharmacy, Standard Chartered, FBNQuest, Safaricom, Total, Coca-Cola and Java House.

The acquisition of WayaWaya allows Ajua to integrate Janja to automate much of the customer experience journey by integrating janja.me product into their product stack, closing the customer experience loop as the smart AI and ML built by WayaWaya gives SMEs the ability to automate responses and give the customer what they want, when they want it.

WayaWaya currently helps both individuals and businesses with intelligent messaging, across a number of social platforms, including Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, Telegram, and others. It allows its users to automate customer support and make cross-border payments. As well as its vast reach with social platforms, WayaWaya is also integrated with global and African financial leaders including Mpesa, Airtel Money, Bankserv, First Data, Interswitch, Stripe, Flutterwave, Visa and MasterCard.

This comes just one month after Ajua announced its partnership with Nigeria’s MTN for MTN EnGauge, an agile application that offers innovative customer management solutions. The platform enables businesses to access digital payments using a unique USSD code, CRM tools, customer feedback channels, debt management and tracking, business and product promotions through mobile and social media channels.

Through its new product roll-out with MTN, Ajua is generating more data for its thousands of users, much of which can now be better automated and monetized through the products and services WayaWaya has built, including cross-border digital transfers, payments services and intelligent finance bots.

The SME market in Nigeria alone is valued at $220 billion annually and projections reveal that businesses with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) have bolstered their productivity by 40 percent. Ajua, the leader in the technology-powered customer experience market for the continent, uses data and analytics to connect companies with their customers in real-time, helping businesses to better understand the nature of their customers and subsequently increase sales through smarter experiences.

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What they are saying

Kenfield Griffith, Ajua Founder and CEO said “The acquisition of WayaWaya is an important milestone for us, as we make a significant leap in ensuring the customer experience journey for businesses across the continent is seamless. Integrating WayaWaya’s technology significantly complements our product suite and gives us the ability to automate our clients’ businesses and grow their revenues, which is an extremely powerful proposition for our customers of all sizes, across Africa. From our experience in this area, we understand the CX fundamentals that drive growth for our customers and we want to bring this intelligence to SMEs across the continent.”

Teddy Ogallo, founder of WayaWaya and new VP of Product APIs and Integrations for Ajua adds, “Ajua’s focus on introducing and scaling customer service and customer experience for the continent – and essentially how they help businesses deliver excellence for their customers is something my team and I have long admired. Seeing how WayaWaya’s technology can complement Ajua’s innovative products and services, and help scale and monetize businesses, is an exciting opportunity for us, and we are happy that our teams will be collaborating to build something unique for the continent.”

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Corporate deals

DEAL: Nigerian fintech API startup Okra raises $3.5million to expand its data infrastructure

The new investment fund will be used to expand Okra’s data infrastructure across Nigeria and execute an imminent pan-African expansion.

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Okra, Nigeria’s fintech API startup announced that it has closed $3.5 million in a seed round.

This funding round was led by U.S.-based Susa Ventures. Other investors include TLcom Capital (the sole investor from its $1 million pre-seed round in 2020); Accenture Ventures; Angel investors like Rob Solomon, Chairman at GoFundMe and a former partner at Accel; Arpan Shah, founding engineer and ex-head of data platforms and data products at Robinhood; and Hongxia Zhong, founding engineer and ex-senior engineering manager at Robinhood.

The API company has raised a total of $4.5 million in two funding rounds.

Founded in 2019 by Fara Ashiru Jituboh and David Peterside, Okra’s API empowers companies and developers to build products with seamless access to inclusive financial data and secure payments.

Okra has also analyzed more than 20 million transactions; last month, it analyzed 27.5% of this figure at over 5.5 million transaction lines.

The company also claims to onboard new clients in 24 hours or less while supporting them through the use of cases specific to their product.

Okra is connected to every bank in Nigeria with several connection methods to choose from. Some companies using Okra’s API include Renmoney, Carbon, Autochek, Access bank and Interswitch.

This new investment fund will be used to expand its data infrastructure across Nigeria and execute an imminent pan-African expansion to Kenya and South Africa.

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What they are saying

Seth Berman, General Partner at Susa, said “We’re thrilled to partner with Okra as they enable developers across the African continent to transform digital financial services. We’re blown away by the quality of Okra’s team, pace of development and the excitement from the customers building on their API.”

Tom Lounibos, President and Managing Director at Accenture Ventures, said the reason behind the investment stems from partnering with Okra to bring open finance to Africa, the calibre of founders and their technology.

Omobola Johnson, Senior Partner at TLcom Capital, said her firm had been consistently impressed with the quality of the Okra team.

“Fara’s technical depth and expertise, which when combined with the entrepreneurial acumen she and David bring to the company, leaves us confident that they are building Africa’s most stable and robust API infrastructure. TLcom is delighted to continue partnering with Okra.”

Fara Ashiru Jituboh CEO of Okra said “We build the tools that businesses need to achieve full digital transformation and we are excited to be welcoming some highly strategic global investors as we scale our Open Finance-as-a-Service operations. The opportunities to collaborate and grow together are significant and we are now in a strong position to continue to build and scale in the African, and global API space.”

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