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Verizon Sells Off media Division Yahoo and AOL For $5B

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Verizon Communications Inc. agreed to sell its media division to Apollo Global Management Inc. for $5 billion, a move that will get forgo the once-dominant online brands like AOL and Yahoo.

The unit will be known as Yahoo after the close of the transaction, which is expected in the second half of this year, Verizon said in a statement Monday. Guru Gowrappan will remain the chief executive officer of the media group. Verizon will keep a 10 percent stake in the business, it said, confirming an earlier Bloomberg News report.

With the sale, Verizon is unloading the remnants of an ambitious but distracting foray into online advertising. Last year, the telecom giant agreed to sell the HuffPost online news service to BuzzFeed Inc., and in 2019 it sold the blogging platform Tumblr.

The US-based telecommunications company’s main priority is now its wireless business and the construction of a multibillion-dollar network for advanced 5G services.

Verizon’s investments in online advertising never really paid off. The company acquired AOL for $4.4 billion in 2015. Tim Armstrong, head of AOL, said at the time he wanted to build a “house of brands” at Verizon under a division dubbed Oath. In 2017, the company bought Yahoo!’s internet properties for about $4.5 billion, betting its 1 billion-plus users would be a fertile audience for online ads.

But in 2018, after Hans Vestberg took over as Verizon’s CEO, the company wrote off more than $4 billion of its media holdings, or roughly half the value of those businesses, and renamed the division Verizon Media Group.

Both AOL and Yahoo lost traction — and lofty market valuations — as internet users shifted to newer platforms such as Google and Facebook.

“We are thrilled to help unlock the tremendous potential of Yahoo and its unparalleled collection of brands,” said Reed Rayman, private equity partner at Apollo.

“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 added, “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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Meta Platforms Inc.’s Astonishing Rally Adds $1 Trillion in Value

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Meta Platforms Inc., formerly known as Facebook, has witnessed an extraordinary rally that has propelled its market value by $1 trillion.

The tech giant’s record-breaking surge, fueled by strategic investments in artificial intelligence (AI), underscores its resilience and adaptability in navigating the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Since its darkest days in 2022, Meta’s shares have undergone a remarkable transformation, soaring to new heights and shattering records along the way.

Despite its monumental growth, some perspectives suggest that Meta is still trading at a discount with its shares valued at 24 times estimated earnings early Wednesday, closely aligned with its 10-year average and just below the Nasdaq 100’s multiple of 25 times.

Among its peers in the Magnificent Seven group of big tech companies, only Alphabet Inc. boasts a lower multiple, standing at approximately 21 times.

AI emerges as the primary catalyst behind Meta’s astonishing rally, driving gains and serving as a harbinger of future growth prospects.

Meta’s substantial investments in AI have revolutionized ad targeting and content recommendation algorithms, enhancing user engagement and advertiser relevance.

The strategic bet on AI has paid off handsomely, with profits tripling in Meta’s most recent quarterly report, accompanied by a surge in revenue growth. Such robust earnings prompted Meta to announce a $50 billion buyback program and implement a dividend, further solidifying investor confidence in the company’s trajectory.

Conrad van Tienhoven, a portfolio manager at Riverpark Capital, lauds Meta’s strategic focus on AI, stating, “Outside of chip or hardware companies like Nvidia or Dell, no company has benefited more from AI than Meta, just in terms of the impact on growth.”

Meta’s unparalleled surge, exceeding 450% from its nadir almost 18 months ago, positions it as a standout performer among its peers. This year alone, Meta’s shares have surged by approximately 46%, trailing only chipmaker Nvidia Corp. within the Magnificent Seven cohort.

The recent selloff that preceded Meta’s current rebound underscored investor concerns over its spending on the metaverse initiative. However, Meta’s proactive measures, including a concerted focus on cost efficiency and innovation, have restored market confidence.

Rick Bensignor, chief executive officer of Bensignor Investment Strategies, affirms Meta’s trajectory, stating, “Meta has figured out how to get rid of unnecessary spending, which has been a real balance sheet plus, and it continues to innovate.”

As Meta prepares to unveil its first-quarter earnings results on April 24, investors eagerly anticipate updates on key metrics such as ad revenue growth and the efficacy of AI solutions.

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Startups

Nigeria Leads African Startup Funding with $160 Million in First Quarter

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Despite challenges in the global economy and a slowdown in funding across Africa, Nigerian startups have demonstrated resilience by securing $160 million in funding during the first quarter of this year.

This shows Nigeria’s position as a key player in the continent’s vibrant startup ecosystem and highlights the potential for continued growth and innovation in the Nigerian tech sector.

A new report by Africa: the Big Deal noted that Nigeria, alongside Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt, accounted for 87 percent of all startup investments in Africa during this period.

The breakdown of funding among these four countries showed Nigeria leading the pack with $160 million, followed by Kenya with $108 million, South Africa with $72 million, and Egypt with $53 million.

This data underscores Nigeria’s dominance in attracting investment within the African startup landscape, cementing its status as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship on the continent.

According to the report, the majority of investments were channeled to startups headquartered in these four countries, with Nigeria and Kenya capturing the lion’s share of funding.

Only a handful of other African nations managed to secure more than $5 million in funding during the first quarter, highlighting the concentrated nature of startup investment activity in Africa.

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic uncertainties, African startups have continued to demonstrate resilience and adaptability. Many entrepreneurs have innovated and created new business models to navigate the evolving landscape, driving growth and attracting investor interest.

Prashant Matta, SP of Panache Venture, acknowledged the decline in funding as a global issue exacerbated by economic challenges. However, he expressed optimism about Nigerian startups, citing mega-deals such as the $100 million investment into Nigerian mobility fintech startup Moove. These mega-deals, fueled by investments from outside Africa, show the confidence of international investors in the Nigerian tech ecosystem.

The report highlighted that the logistics and transport sector emerged as the top recipient of funding in the first quarter, totaling $151 million from 14 deals. Nigerian startup Moove raised a significant $110 million during this period.

Following closely behind, fintech attracted the second-highest funding with $105 million, followed by agric and food with $50 million, energy with $49 million, and healthcare with $45 million. These sectors reflect the diverse range of opportunities and innovations driving growth in the Nigerian startup ecosystem.

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Social Media

Trump Media & Tech Group Plummets, Wiping Out $2.8 Billion in Value

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Trump Media & Technology Group Corp., the social media predominantly owned by former U.S. President Donald Trump, has lost $2.8 billion in market value in the last few days.

The tumultuous downturn comes as a wave of retail traders who once fervently boosted the stock have begun to offload their holdings.

The company, which encompasses the Truth Social platform, has seen its stock plummet by 36% since its closing high on March 26.

This nosedive not only erased the gains achieved in the aftermath of its merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp., but it also pushed the stock below its pre-merger trading levels.

Initially, Trump Media enjoyed a meteoric rise in its early days as a publicly traded entity following the merger with DWAC, the blank-check company facilitating the deal.

However, the allure of the stock among individual investors, who saw it as a means to express support for the former president’s potential 2024 reelection bid, has waned significantly.

As the stock continues its downward spiral, the once-projected paper windfall for Donald Trump himself has also dwindled.

Trump’s anticipated gains from the venture have plummeted by approximately $1.6 billion, leaving him with an estimated $2.9 billion in paper wealth.

However, realization of this wealth remains contingent upon a six-month lock-up agreement, delaying Trump’s ability to sell shares.

The timing of Trump Media’s downfall coincides with a flurry of legal troubles facing the former president. With just a week until the commencement of his first criminal trial in Manhattan, Trump faces charges related to falsifying business records in connection with hush money payments to a pornographic actress prior to the 2016 election.

Also, Trump is slated to undergo deposition in a civil lawsuit filed against him and Trump Media by two co-founders alleging share dilution prior to the merger.

Despite the substantial loss in value, Trump Media retains a market capitalization of approximately $5 billion, underscoring the paradoxical valuation dynamics in the current market environment.

The company’s meager revenue of $4.1 million in the preceding year contrasts sharply with its lofty market capitalization, raising concerns about the sustainability of its valuation.

The dramatic downturn of Trump Media & Technology Group mirrors the volatile trajectory of past meme stocks like GameStop Corp. and underscores the inherent risks associated with companies emerging from SPAC mergers.

As the company grapples with its dwindling valuation and mounting legal challenges, the future of Truth Social and its associated ventures remains uncertain in the ever-shifting landscape of the digital realm.

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