Yahoo agrees to acquire leading Arabic portal Maktoob.com for an undisclosed sum. Maktoob boasts more than 16.5 million unique users, or a third of the total users in the Middle East. Yahoo plans to offer Arabic versions of the Yahoo home page, Yahoo Search, Yahoo Messenger and Yahoo Mail, and eventually local versions of Yahoo News, Sports and Finance content and services. Yahoo needs to keep expanding and innovating to continue to challenge Google, Microsoft and Internet upstarts Facebook and Twitter.
Yahoo moved to make its biggest geographic expansion in years Aug. 25 when
it agreed to buy leading Arabic Web community Maktoob.com
for an undisclosed sum.
The Yahoo of the Arab world, Maktoob boasts more than 16.5 million unique
users, or a third of the total users in the
Yahoo said in a statement. Maktoob.com, which offers news, finance, research
and sports content along with Web-based mail, search, payments, gaming and an
auction site, is accessed by users in the
The acquisition bid does not include
auction site Souq.com, payments platform
cashU.com, search engine Araby.com, online ad network E-marketing and gaming
destination Tahadi.com. These businesses will operate under a new entity called
the Jabbar Internet Group, managed by Maktoob founder Samih Toukan. Yahoo will
promote these Jabbar companies on the Maktoob.com portal.
Through Maktoob.com, Yahoo plans to offer Arabic versions of the Yahoo home
page, Yahoo Search, Yahoo Messenger and Yahoo Mail, and eventually local
versions of Yahoo News, Sports and Finance content and services, Keith Nilsson,
senior vice president for emerging markets at Yahoo, said
in a blog post
Interestingly, the acquisition comes one day after Yahoo upgraded
Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Messenger and began bucket
testing its new Yahoo Search engine
. The purchase also comes three weeks after
Microsoft and Yahoo agreed
to a 10-year search and search ad deal, with Bing
powering Yahoo. Taken together, these moves underscore a reinvigorated Yahoo
"This acquisition will accelerate Yahoo's strategy of expanding in
high-growth emerging markets where we believe Yahoo has unparalleled opportunity
to become the destination of choice for consumers," Bartz said in a
Yahoo said that while Internet usage in the
has grown significantly in the last decade, most markets are still in the early
stages of adoption. According to the World Bank, there are more than 320
million Arabic speakers worldwide, but less than 1 percent of all online
content is in Arabic.
Yahoo, which needs to keep expanding and innovating to fend off Web
audience-hungry Google, Microsoft, and Internet upstarts Facebook and Twitter,
aims to tap that Arabic market for new streams of online advertising. Spending
on online advertising in the
is expected to
grow by 35 to 40 percent this year in the region, according to Madar Research.
Yahoo and Maktoob.com hope to attack that market together.
To wit, the deal is part of Yahoo's larger strategy to grow its business by
tapping the world's emerging markets, Nilsson said. Based in
Yahoo's Emerging Markets unit targets growth opportunities in South East Asia,
"In many countries, vast populations-and advertisers-are just starting
to come online," Nilsson wrote. "The potential is tremendous. Yahoo
has a large and growing audience in these markets today, and our acquisition of
Maktoob represents the kind of investment we're making to cater to the needs of
these promising regions."
Should the deal close in the fourth quarter as Yahoo expects, Maktoob.com
will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Yahoo. Ahmed Nassef, the current
general manager of Maktoob.com, will continue to lead the Maktoob.com teams and
will report to Nilsson.
Read more about this acquisition on TechMeme here
and on this special
for the Yahoo-Maktoob.com buy.