Jabbar Internet Group

Published on August 25th, 2009 | by SayginYalcin


Yahoo! Of Arabia

Yahoo! and Microsoft may have announced their long-awaited marriage last month, but that doesn’t mean they can’t see other people. While Microsoft ties up a partnership with French advertising firm Groupe Publicis, Yahoo! is taking refuge in the Middle East, where it has sealed a deal to buy online portal Maktoob for an undisclosed sum.

The price is not likely to exceed $20 million to $30 million, according to Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities. He thinks the acquisition of Jordan-based Maktoob, which was announced on Tuesday, makes sense. “Yahoo! is a global brand, but global brands need to have a local presence,” he said. “I think it gets you good talent, and the synergies are there.” He added that Internet portals like Maktoob attracted display advertising in particular, such as banner ads, which do not fall under Yahoo!’s search partnership withMicrosoft .

Chowdhry said the move might trigger acquisitions of other portals, though there are few independent players in the top 10 most-visited sites in the Middle East. According to Maktoob’s Web site, Google , Facebook and MSN are the usual suspects dotting the top 10 rankings. One notable exception, however, is Kooora, a sports-focused Web site popular in countries including Saudi Arabia and Libya.

Yahoo! is not buying a market leader with this deal. When it comes to traffic rankings, Maktoob is actually less popular in the Arab world than its new owner–only in Saudi Arabia is Maktoob ranked higher, according to Maktoob’s Web site. But what counts is the local content, delivered in the Arabic language: Yahoo! says Middle East markets are in the “early stages” of Internet adoption, with only 1% of all online content in Arabic, despite the fact that there are 320 million Arabic speakers worldwide. In other words, the growth potential is promising.

Shares of Yahoo! ticked up 2 cents, to $15.01, during midday trading in New York. The stock is down 15% since it announced its search alliance with Microsoft at the end of July, which will see Microsoft shoehorn its Bing search brand onto Yahoo!’s platform in exchange for the lion’s share of expected search revenues on Yahoo!-operated Web sites. (See “Boo Hoo For Yahoo!”)

Maktoob was founded by Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury in 2000 as a free online e-mail service, but grew to encompass online payments under the “cashU” brand and Internet auctions with “souq.com.” These companies will be favorably promoted on the new Yahoo!-owned Maktoob.

Source: http://www.forbes.com/2009/08/25/yahoo-maktoob-microsoft-markets-equities-technology.html

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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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