ICT experts downplayed the impact of Yahoo’s decision to close its office in Amman, but urged authorities to do more to make Jordan more attractive for international ICT companies.
They said the US Internet giant’s decision to shut down its office in Amman before the end of the year — thus terminating 80 jobs and relocating some staff — is part of Yahoo’s efforts to cut down costs in its international operations.
“This is surely a loss for Jordan. Closing the office fully is a warning that Jordan needs to do more to be more attractive for global tech companies,” Jawad Abbassi, founder and general manager of the Arab Advisers Group, told The Jordan Times recently.
“This is, however, part of global restructuring for Yahoo,” he added.
In a statement last week, the Sunnyvale, California-based company said the Jordan office helped support Maktoob, Yahoo’s Arab Internet services company, which will continue to be operated from Yahoo’s office in Dubai and other regional offices.
“This decision is part of Yahoo’s global efforts to streamline operations that will help us execute more quickly and efficiently,” the company said in a statement released last week.
“The Middle East and North Africa will continue to be an important market for Yahoo and we remain committed to our users and advertisers in the region.”
ICT Minister Azzam Sleit told The Jordan Times that Yahoo clarified that its closure of the Amman office is not related to the investment climate in the Kingdom.
The minister, who said he communicated with the company after their announcement, noted that the government is surprised by Yahoo’s decision and is keen on the continuation of its operations in Jordan.
The government, he added, is committed to removing any obstacles facing ICT companies.
With more than 12,000 employees by the end of June, Yahoo is trimming staff and combining offices globally as it seeks to invest in driving more user traffic and revenue growth.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is also eliminating about 400 positions at its Bangalore, India, offices, as part of the company’s effort to bring more teams closer together, according to the Bloomberg News agency.
Yahoo, which acquired the Jordan-based portal Maktoob for $164 million in 2009, acknowledged that Jordan has provided strong support in the Middle East and North Africa region with the acquisition of Maktoob, the ICT Association of Jordan (int@j) said in a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times.
“While related to Yahoo’s internal policies, [the decision] also underlines that Jordan needs to work further to make our market more attractive for global companies to stay,” int@j said.
Commenting on Yahoo’s decision, Mohammed Khawaja, CEO of ICT company Startappz noted that it is a sign that we should be in favour of the region building “its own giants that would acquire others later and help them exit rather than wait for other global giants to play this role in our region”.
“It might be a loss… but the [Maktoob] deal positioned Jordan as a hub for world class talent and helped shape new initiatives like Oasis500 to try to replicate the same model and help more Jordanian start-ups get their shortcut to Silicon Valley,” Khawaja said.