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News  24, Jul 2012

Yahoo! resurrects Indonesia’s Foursquare, Koprol. Sign of a more Mayer-ish approach to talent appreciation?

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Yahoo! transfers Koprol trademarks to Barito Labs, to be run by the original Koprol founders.

The story of Koprol has been told again and again. Solid startup with a rockstar team, gets huge traction in Indonesia and was named the Foursquare of Indonesia, successfully exited the company to Yahoo!. Unlike other startups with happy endings, Yahoo! had to shut down Koprol as part of its latest move to drive innovation within a leaner, more focused company. There were much outcry from the community because the whole Koprol team had to be laid off.

What are the Koprol founders doing now?

However, fresh out of Yahoo!, the Koprol team are now back in action with two mobile development initiatives – a Silicon Valley backed software company focusing on international mobile projects, and a small mobile innovation company that just obtained the Koprol trademarks from Yahoo!. Ice House is the software development shop based in Jakarta, and focuses on cutting-edge mobile and web apps for startups and corporations in Silicon Valley. Managed by Koprol founders Fajar Budiprasetyo and Daniel Armanto, Ice House is also backed by Pacific Technology Partners, a private investment firm based in Palo Alto.

So what will happen to the Koprol trademark and domain?

Other than Ice House, Yahoo! has also decided to transfer all Koprol trademarks and related domains to Barito Labs, a new company established by Satya Witoelar, Fajar Budiprasetyo and Daniel Armanto. Koprol was originally scheduled to be shut down on the 28th August. Barito Labs, officially PT Barito Digital, aims to launch innovative mobile apps for the local consumers. “With our unique combination of entrepreneurial, product development and marketing experience in both a local startup and a global corporation, we will introduce amazing mobile innovations for consumers in emerging markets.

Trying to undo the damage

With Yahoo! handing over the Koprol name to its original founders, it definitely shows a goodwill gesture towards the local community. The announcement came shortly after Yahoo! chose its new CEO Marissa Mayer, whom is well known for appreciating talents and rockstar teams. She ran Google’s hand-selected prime talents of an accelerated leadership program at Google called Associate Product Manager (APM) which managed to produce high quality leaders in Google. Wired coined the program as Marissa’s secret weapon to save Yahoo!. While the Koprol team layoff by former Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson could not be undone, the goodwill gesture of returning the Koprol trademark might be an attempt to reestablish the relationship between Yahoo! and the local Indonesia community, which still remains as one of Southeast Asia’s largest internet community.

Yahoo! also released an official statement on the matter:

Yahoo! has reached an agreement with Satya Witoelar, Fajar Budiprasetyo, and Daniel Armanto – the founders of Koprol – to return all the rights associated with the trademark and domain names that were obtained by Yahoo! at the time of the initial acquisition in May 2010.

The granting of these rights will entrust the ownership of the brand name ‘Koprol’ and the associated domain names back to the founders. The goodwill gesture is Yahoo!’s expression of support and commitment to Indonesia’s Internet community, and follows Yahoo!’s recent announcement of discontinuing Koprol effective 28th August, 2012. The shutdown is in line with Yahoo!’s focus on more quickly innovating with our core products and properties to deliver the best possible experiences for consumers and advertisers.

“Yahoo! worked closely with us to arrive at an amicable outcome and we are very pleased with this decision,” stated Satya Witoelar, formerly the Product Manager of Yahoo! Koprol. Yahoo established its presence in Indonesia in the year 2009 and is one of the leading Internet sites in the country. The recent launches of Yahoo! She and Yahoo! Olaragha reinforce our promise of bringing locally relevant content to deliver the best digital experience to our users.

Jacky Yap

Jacky Yap

Having spent one year abroad in Shanghai under the NUS Overseas College Programme, Jacky has an avid interest in entrepreneurship and web based startups. Jacky used to run N-House, Singapore's first entrepreneurial themed residence in NUS, and was also part of the organizing team for Startup Weekend Singapore 2012. You can reach him at jacky [at] e27 [dot] co

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