Jabbar Internet Group

Published on August 25th, 2009 | by SayginYalcin


Yahoo acquiring Arab portal Maktoob after all

This is the first major buy by a U.S. portal company in the Arab region, a fast growing Internet and mobile market.

The Jordan-based portal was founded in 1999 mainly to offer a free Arabic language online e-mail service, a rarity then. It expanded from there to include all the regular features of a portal. In June 2005, the UAE-based PE house Abraaj Capital purchased 40 percent stake in the company for $5.2 million, which in turn flipped it to Tiger Global Management in Dec 2007. More about the company history here in Wikipedia.

According to Maktoob’s business news feed, a joint announcement for it by Keith Neillson, VP of emerging markets, Samih Toukan, founder Maktoob, and Ahmed Nassef, GM of Maktoob, at a company wide conference. The price was not officially announced, but our sources sayit is in the $75 million to $80 million range. The new Yahoo division will be called Yahoo Middle East.

Some selected tweets from the company’s feed (paraphrased for clarity):

•  After today yahoo products will be made arabic and content arabized.
•  Uniting Yahoo’s 20 million users from the arab world, with Maktoob’s 16 million.
•  Starting with Arabic mail and messenger
•  Other parts of Maktoob group, Souq.com, Cashu.com, Tahadi mmo games, and Araby.com are not part of the deal but will be a separate company called Jabbar Internet Group.
•  Product will be co-branded Yahoo and Maktoob; deal expected to close in Q4

Updated from a story on Maktoob’s business new channel: The remaining products under the Maktoob Group, not part of the Yahoo deal, will operate under a new entity called the Jabbar Internet Group, capitalized to about $20 million, which means the founders are not staying as part of this deal. Ahmed Nassef, the current GM of Maktoob.com, will continue to lead the Maktoob.com teams and will report to Keith Nilsson. Yahoo and Jabbar will continue to have a “strong commercial relationship” going forward, which will include the promotion of Jabbar companies on the Maktoob.com portal, the two companies said.

A very important concern that will come up with this acquisition by a global company like Yahoo: Concerns over freedom of speech in a region known for censorship of free speech online. Yahoo will be closely watched on how it reacts to such concerns and requests by local governments from here on. Its China policy has come under fierce criticism over the years.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/media/pda/2009/aug/25/yahoo-internet

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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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