Ten days after Apollo Global completed its acquisition of Yahoo (formerly Verizon Media) from Verizon for $5 billion, it has appointed a new CEO for the group. Jim Lanzone, who is currently the CEO of dating app Tinder, is coming on to lead the company (which, disclaimer, also owns TechCrunch). Renate Nyborg, who had been running Tinder’s business in EMEA, is taking on the role of CEO at Tinder.
Guru Gowrappan, who had led the division for three years under Verizon, is stepping down and taking on a role as “advisor” to Apollo.
The major changing of the guard had been rumored for weeks leading up to the Apollo sale closing, something that our sources were saying was not inaccurate, so this should not come as a huge surprise.
Lanzone’s tenure at Tinder was just 14 months, short-lived but perhaps in keeping with an app optimised for speed and casually meeting people? Before that, he spent years running CBS Interactive, among other roles in media, and specifically digital media, including dabbling in founding digital media startups, such as this online video guide that launched at TechCrunch Disrupt many years ago (that company, Clicker, was acquired by CBS, which is how he came eventually to run CBS Interactive). Prior to that he worked at IAC, the company that originally incubated and launched Tinder.
“Jim has a remarkable track record of leading and growing innovative businesses in our industry, and we are thrilled to welcome him on board. With his experience and proven management skills, we are confident Jim is the right leader to steward Yahoo through a transformational new phase that can leverage the best of Yahoo’s platform and performance to reach new heights,” said Yahoo Chairman and Apollo Partner Reed Rayman, in a statement. “We also want to thank Guru for his significant contributions to the company, passing the baton following three consecutive quarters of double-digit growth. We look forward to working with him in his new capacity as an advisor to Apollo.”
Nyborg is young but has a very long track record in tech — and another disclaimer, she’s a friend of mine — which includes time at Headspace, working at Apple across different roles in subscriptions and developer relations, building her own startups and more.
Her connection to Tinder is a professional and personal one.
“I swiped right on my husband and it changed my life,” she said in a statement. “Being CEO of this company is a truly humbling and extraordinary opportunity; to make that happen for the next generation of singles around the world. The Tinder team is – hands down – the most innovative and inspiring group I’ve ever worked with. We are building the most fun, inclusive, safest place for singles to connect. And you can see this evolution on our app. We’re building the technology and raising the bar for the industry along with it.”
The two big changes leave a lot of question marks in the air for both companies. For Yahoo, many will be wondering how and if Apollo longer-term plans to try to continue running the organization as a cohesive whole, or whether it will sell it for parts, as is sometimes the tendency with private equity houses. The appointment of Lanzone implies that there could be a bigger view to building the business into a more profitable operation as-is with a media and content face at the front of it. Or at least tighten it up to make it more attractive to other digital media conglomerates.
For Tinder, appointing a woman to the top job is a major move to give the app a more human face after years of controversy behind it and one of its co-founders, Whitney Wolfe-Herd, who eventually left and built Bumble — a more female-friendly dating app — to take Tinder head-on.