Verizon might regret asking people to #taketheoath.
The telecom company has been plucking up old school Internet properties with the tenacity of a child on an Easter egg hunt. It already purchased AOL and will soon acquire (most of) Yahoo.
On Monday, AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong announced Verizon will merge these companies, which will be overseen by a new brand called “Oath: A Verizon Company.” It’s unclear exactly what this new company will do, as the Associated Press reported, though Armstrong’s tweet hinted that it will manage more than 20 different brands.
— Tim Armstrong (@timarmstrongaol) April 3, 2017
“You can bet we will be launching one of the most disruptive brand companies in digital,” AOL said in a statement, without elaborating on what that actually means.
Faced with an absence of information about the new company, many outlets dedicated to covering technology focused on its name. Oath. Short and sweet, seemingly intended to fit in with the Silicon Valley trend of snappy product names, such as Bumble, Waze and Venmo.
“Verizon’s long-promised Yahoo acquisition has a name. And it, for some reason, is Oath,” TechCrunch reported before publishing a second, satirical story enumerating the pros and cons of Oath, which was short on pros and long on cons.
One positive is that Oath would be a “good brand if we decide to pivot to ‘Tinder for cults.’” Another is that Oath is “an actual word, unlike some corporate identities.” (That may well refer to tronc, the lowercase name of the Tribune company’s digital enterprise. The Verge simply wrote of Oath, “At least its better than tronc.”)
The cons included the fact that “Oath.com” remains unregistered, that it sounds like “oaf” when spoken too quickly and “internal communications regarding ‘taking the oath’ sound like suicide pacts, or at least something involving blood.”
The piece concluded that it could be worse. After all, “if we can get used to ‘Yahoo!’ we can get used to Oath.”
An Ars Technica piece titled, “Yahoo+AOL = Oath? LOL OMG WTF,” called the name “a special kind of bad.” It continued:
An oath is something you either take (an oath of allegiance, an oath of office, an oath of enlistment) or a blasphemous interjection. In the case of Oath the company, it may be more of an oath of acquiescence as Verizon’s mobile and broadband customers sign their contracts.
The Twittersphere, meanwhile, got in on the fun.
— BuzzFeed Tech (@fwd) April 3, 2017
ELDERS OF VERIZON, HEAR MY SACRED OATH
— Rusty Foster (@rustyk5) April 3, 2017
The remnants of Yahoo will be named Altaba and Oath, just like the prophecy foretold
— modest proposal (@modestproposal1) April 3, 2017
Q: Is "Oath" Yahoo or AOL?
Q: What will determine success?
Q: What's the strategy
A: Build a competitive moath
— Ashley Mayer ❄️ (@ashleymayer) April 4, 2017
Many (oh so many) referenced tronc:
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) April 3, 2017
Ratchet & Clank: Tronc’s Oath
— Robinson Meyer (@yayitsrob) April 3, 2017
All I'm saying is that I don't see why Yahoo & AOL are calling themselves Oath now when "Tronc Jr." is just sitting there, waiting.
— Rob Martin (@robmartin365) April 3, 2017
— It's Zeke! (@robertlitvak) April 4, 2017
Oath has to be the stupidest renaming of a company since Tronc.
— @RealDonaldTrump (@SocraticGadfly) April 3, 2017
Oath: Because 'tronc' was already taken. #MockTheOath
— Jonathan Pierce (@clubdirthill) April 3, 2017
If Tronc eventually acquires Oath, the new firm should be called Troth. pic.twitter.com/EyP9isUUI2
— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) April 3, 2017
These Internet comedians eventually flooded #taketheoath, the hashtag Armstrong used in his announcement.
We're officially on the darkest timeline, Yahoo and AOL merging to become Oath… #taketheoath
— Chaz Moore (@chaz_moore) April 3, 2017
— Matt Ortega (@MattOrtega) April 3, 2017
— Carly Stum (@carly_stum) April 3, 2017
— Mike (@sixpointtwo) April 4, 2017
— 1984 on Lifetime (@mascdonna) April 3, 2017
Perhaps the Internet’s general reaction will change when more details emerge. For now, as The Washington Post’s Brian Fung reported Monday afternoon:
AOL declined to elaborate on the meaning behind “Oath,” but said in a statement that it will be “one of the most disruptive brand companies in digital.”
Yahoo declined to comment. Verizon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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