Jabbar Internet Group

Published on August 25th, 2009 | by SayginYalcin


Confirmed: Yahoo Acquires Arab Internet Portal Maktoob

Yahoo has just officially acquired Maktoob, a very popular Arabic web portal that offers services including search, payments, social network, and auctions. Rumors of an aquisition have been building for months, and in the last hour they reached a head as news of an impending press conference broke. The price hasn’t been announced, but our sources say $85 million.

The MaktoobBusiness Twitter acccount notes that the deal will unite “Yahoo’s 20 million users from the Arab world with Maktoob’s 16 million”, with Vice President Ahmed Nassef stating that it will bring “a sea change in the industry.”

Up until now, Yahoo has held a weak presence in the Arab region, with no dedicated portal to speak of (though it still managed to attract millions of Arab users to its sites). The deal effectively gives Yahoo an instant foothold in the market. According to MaktoobBusiness, products will be cobranded with Yahoo and Maktoob, with the deal completing in the fourth quarter and new products rolling out next year.

However, the deal does not include a number of Maktoob’ products, including Souq (an eBay-like auction site), CashU (prepaid card payment system), Araby (search), and Tahadi MMO games. These will become part of Jabbar Internet Group, which we hear may be headed by one of Maktoob’s founders.

Maktoob launched in the late 90′s as the first free Arabic Email service provider. Since then it has grown to encompass a variety of services, including payments, gaming, search, and auctions. According to comScore, Maktoob has seen very impressive growth over the last year, growing from 6 million unique visitors in June 2008 to 21.8 million a year later. Likewise, its page views have grown from 406 million to 1.1 billion over the same time frame.

Update: Yahoo has now confirmed to acquisition on its blog:

We plan to join forces with the Maktoob team, the strongest in the region, to create locally relevant content, services, and programming. That’s no easy task when you consider the differences between countries like UAE, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But we’re committed to literally translating our winning formula for this growing market in many ways, including through locally-based editorial teams.

Initially, we’ll plan to introduce Arabic versions of Yahoo! Mail, Messenger, Search, and our homepage and then eventually local versions of properties like News, Sports, and Finance. We’ll also focus on creating content and services tailored to the region. No other global company has made this kind of investment in local relevance for the Arab world.

Source: http://techcrunch.com/2009/08/25/confirmed-yahoo-acquires-arab-internet-portal-maktoob/

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About the Author

Saygin is the Founder & CEO of the Middle East's (ME) first & largest car buying service, SellAnyCar.com and Founder of the first & largest online private shopping club in the ME, Sukar.com, which has been acquired by Souq.com, making him Partner at the Souq.com and Jabbar Internet Group, becoming the largest ecommerce company in the Arab world, with 3000+ employees. In its largest acquisition outside the US to date, Amazon.com has acquired Souq.com Group. He has been selected as a UBS Industry Leader, a network of Ultra-High-Net-Worth Individuals. He was also Advisory Board Member & Academic Lecturer of Entrepreneurship at the Canadian University of Dubai. He was referred to as "the region's online business guru" by the National newspaper in the UAE, while Arabian Business named him as "one of the region's finest young entrepreneurs and a major part of the entrepreneurial scene in recent years". Fortune magazine (mag) named him in the 40 under 40 list, as one of the most influential young people in business, Entrepreneur mag ME awarded SellAnyCar.com, with Saygin at its helm, as the "Fastest Growing Company in the ME", while the National newspaper sees it among a handful of tech companies to "have the potential to break the $1bn barrier". In a cover story, Entrepreneur mag ME titled him as "undoubtedly one of the youngest & most successful internet entrepreneurs in the ME”, awarded SellAnyCar.com as "Technology Innovator of the Year”, while Khaleej Times awarded him as the Technology Leader. Gulf Business selected him as 1 of the Top 10 Entrepreneurs in ME. In a cover story, Arabian Business counts him as 1 of the most successful entrepreneurs to call Dubai home. During the World Government Summit, HH Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed, Minister of Interior of the UAE, presented Saygin as an inspiring story for the country, in the presence of world leaders, incl. HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

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