Yahoo fast-tracking RP office, Microsoft bid notwithstanding

By Erwin Oliva
First Posted 16:10:00 05/02/2008

MAKATI CITY, Philippines -- Yahoo! has accelerated plans to put up an office in the Philippines, targeting its completion this month or in June, an executive told on Friday.

Yahoo! Southeast Asian executives disclosed plans early this year to set up an office in the country due to encouraging Internet growth in the country.

"We're accelerating it. It has nothing to do with the dynamics in the industry," said Jojo Anonuevo, general manager for the Philippine operations of Yahoo!, in an interview here, as he hinted on Microsoft's offer to buy the Internet company.

"We're laser-focused here in Southeast Asia. What we're doing here will add value. What's happening there is not distracting us. But we know it's there," he added.

Yahoo! is now working on improving the Internet experience of a growing number of Filipino users here and abroad, he said. The Internet giant is working on deploying caching technology to improve the network traffic coming from local users. Currently, local users accessing content from Yahoo! are routed to the United States or Singapore, and back to the Philippines.

Anonuevo said they have recently seen a spike in traffic to their Philippine homepage, with more than 50 percent coming from Filipinos abroad.

Yahoo! is still on a hiring mode, looking for people to fill technical, marketing and sales positions for the Philippine office. Yahoo! is also looking for some local creative skills to help enhance its Internet services.

Meanwhile, the company has recently signed up big advertising deals, including one with Procter & Gamble and a government agency, Anonuevo said. Yahoo! has also signed up more local content partners.

"The digital marketing industry is poised for growth in the Philippines. If we spend more effort, we can accelerate our traffic," the executive said.

Yahoo! intends to have a dozen people working for the local office, but the numbers might increase, added Anonuevo.

Citing industry figures, Anonuevo said that the Philippines has about 22 million Internet users to date, with growth rates of about 30 percent a year.

Anonuevo left his regional job to take on a new role in the Philippines to help further build the Yahoo! brand and business in the country.

Yahoo! has also appointed Cris Concepcion, the new strategic consultant of Yahoo Southeast Asia, to help Anonuevo.