Yes – we closed the deal. My hope was to bask in the deal closing success and enjoy the moment but unfortunately there was not a lot of time to do that. All sorts of stuff needed sorting from deciding how to announce the deal, to sorting out the structure of operations and of course just dealing with all the demands placed on the newly acquired team. Koprol was now our emerging markets baby – everyone inside of Yahoo wanted access and people outside of Yahoo wanted to interview the principals. All good. I think Yahoo’s bonus from the deal was the huge amount of positive, organic pr. Something Yahoo was not normally used to.
As far as the event itself – the announcing the deal to the public, we planned for a medium sized private event where all the regional bloggers and media where invited. At this time there was some notion of activity around Koprol and Yahoo but there had not been any leaks and no one had forecasted what had actually happened. I was proud of both the Yahoo and Koprol team for not having leaked anything. I am sure many people suspected something but no one called it. The event allowed the Koprol guys to announce the deal and the APAC management to introduce themselves to the community at large. Corporate stayed out of it and the excitement of the deal took center stage. All in all I was proud of the moment and of Yahoo.
Post deal announcement my friend from the IGTF and I spent some time in Bali hanging and trying to come up with some basic plans. Apart form this celebration and a few post deal parties at some of the regional events the air of celebration was exhausted quick since the need to get down to business was at hand.
Fortunately the IGTF lead for the deal was still at Yahoo and focused on making this work – this along with the APAC team focus allowed us to plan next steps. The goal being to grow the product in the region, learn from it and see what the team could offer Yahoo in ideas for emerging markets. Apart from the this the rest of the details needed to be worked out.
There were lots of open issues:
– what to name or brand it?
– long term reporting structures
– dealing with logins – yahoo users
– scaling points of interest
– platforms to grow into
– how to scale the team in Indonesia
– how to engage the rest of Yahoo
– how to spread in the other Yahoo regions
Post closing the Yahoo APAC marketing team started to discuss the branding and of course wanted it to be called Yahoo Koprol. Part of me resisted this cause I felt that the best way to conduct the experiment in the large would be to not overly influence it. Koprol was tiny and Yahoo was huge and it was assumed everyone knew Yahoo and no one knew Koprol. The idea was call it Yahoo Koprol and everyone would feel better about it. The focus groups mostly alluded to the same answer but for me I was more interested in using the resources of Yahoo but yet trying to not over Yahoo everything.
This was really the entire crux of our new found paradox – how does one take advantage of all that Yahoo has to offer and get shit done but not be saddled with all the bullshit of Yahoo that is notorious for not getting anything done. This is where my Yahoo career probably nosedived as I stated to assume the role of protector as someone wanting to do the right thing for everyone but yet having to piss people off along the way.
There was the local team, the Koprol team, the users, Sunnyvale and the world all watching and everyone wanting a piece. Yahoo wanted to learn from the team, the world wanted to interview them, the users wanted a growing product and the Koprol team wanted to try and please everyone – there was no easy way to do this but my full time gig become trying to make all this happen. I am sure I failed – but I learned a lot along the way and I think everyone else did to.
Decisions were quickly being made – the product would be called Yahoo Koprol, the product would keep the multi login system although would need to make the Yahoo stuff the real login and we would start throwing some marketing dollars at promoting the product in Indonesia. In theory this was all good but there can be too much of a good thing since the product was still really new. The idea of marketing a hong product might make some sense but the offer on the table was to do a TV commercial for Indonesia. At first reaction one thinks hell yeah – let’s do that but then reality sets in and one realizes that the product may just not be ready for something like a TVC. Here is another decision that needed to be made in that we wanted the marketing help but we honestly wanted it to come later however the TVC budget was there and needing to be used ASAP. Looking back I think we should not have done the TVC since it made us put off some product evolutions to prep for the TVC and we were forced to make some decisions around the features or the marketable features so that the TVC would have the message Yahoo wanted for the region.
Essentially it meant accepting more compromises for what the team would be working on and how the product would be presented by Yahoo to the region. It was all too soon really since we wanted to experiment around product features and we wanted to grow it more organically or within the Yahoo ecosystem prior to doing any hardcore marketing. Yes – the TVC was well done and it made a huge difference in users but it was probably also the wrong kind of user and it meant Koprol was getting a huge amount of attention both within the company and around Indonesia. Other groups at Yahoo were slightly peeved at such a young product getting so much money since marketing money had to be shared around the region and the product was having to deal with rampant growth without the time to work on engagement and making it a better product. It was a mass tradeoff that in my mind wasn’t worth the hassles.
This began the journey for what ultimately started to cave the entire experiment – Koprol was now expected to be the hero product for the region with the idea that market it enough and it will be big rather than building the best product and figuring out how to make it something the region desires versus flogging it. This is actually a typically Yahoo dilemma since there are ways between marketing dollars, PR and the front page to unleash a firehose on something within or outside of Yahoo that will result in mass traffic but won’t king make something that is not ready or is not a good product. Koprol now had the firehose but it really needed more time to mature first.