Embattled Yahoo opens office in the Philippines

It may no longer be the king of the Internet, but Yahoo still casts a long shadow here in the Philippines.It wasn't surprising, therefore, when the company announced last February that it was opening a local office.

It may no longer be the king of the Internet, but Yahoo still casts a long shadow here in the Philippines.

It wasn't surprising, therefore, when the company announced last February that it was opening a local office. The company made good on that promise last Friday, Jun. 20, when Yahoo Philippines was officially incorporated as a local subsidiary.

It's interesting to note that while the rest of the technology world seems ready to deliver their eulogies for the Internet giant, Yahoo has chosen to take the unusual move of expanding its reach by creating another office overseas.

Perhaps, this is its way of saying that the game's not yet over.

This latest move by Yahoo validated my own personal hunch early on that the company wouldn't allow itself to be gobbled up by software colossus Microsoft--no matter what. Even when Microsoft upped its offer price, I didn't expect Jerry Yang to give in as he seemed convinced that the company still had the tools and strategy to turn its fortunes around.

I hope Yang's right. The IT industry is better off with Yahoo and Microsoft as two separate and competing companies. Consumers simply have a wider choice and will not be limited to just two options--Google and Microsoft.

I like what my colleague Jing Garcia, technology editor of The Manila Times, told me about his view of the current strategy of Yahoo. He said that while Google may be bigger--and richer--now, Yahoo is more mature and wiser in its approach at the country level. For example, he said, Google is merely localizing the language of its Web site, while Yahoo has localized its content and applications.

In the case of the Philippines, it even set up a local office. This is quite unusual since the company's Singapore office--with its 200-strong workforce--is suppose to cover the entire Southeast Asian region.

The new subsidiary looks all set to swing into action with the batman-and-robin tandem of Jojo Anonuevo, who will serve as country manager, and Cris Concepcion, as strategic consultant.

Their pairing, I must say, is an interesting and exciting one. Jojo A, well-liked and respected, is known in the local IT scene as "Employee Number Zero" of Oracle Philippines for establishing the database maker's local office, while still based in the United States in the late 1990s. This is the second time, therefor,e that he'll be leading a new subsidiary--but this time as employee number one.

Concepcion's background is a bit different. He's part of the second batch of graduates from the University of the Philippines who took up Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, reputedly the hardest undergraduate course in that universit, and also has a doctor of medicine degree from the University of the East--Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center.

But he didn't get to practise his medical craft and flew straight to the United States, where he found work as director of product development and online content programming at a media company. He switched to IT after he got bored doing the paper work that was required as a medical practitioner in New York.

He unexpectedly got a job offer from Yahoo when he wrote in to offer a few suggestions for the company's then-newly launched product, Yahoo Answers. Being a Filipino, he was asked to assume a post in Singapore for a while before relocating eventually to Manila.

Unlike the pressure-load Jerry Yang has to bear, the duo of Anonuevo and Concepcion is expected to easily accomplish their local mission. The facts appear to augur well for them: about 85 percent of Filipinos Internet consumers are using Yahoo services such as e-mail and instant messenger. I don't know if that figure covers the Internet search category where Google is the clear leader.

But, obviously, as Concepcion explained to me in a recent interview, if an Internet user is using a Yahoo e-mail account and instant messenger, you cannot discount the fact they might be also using Yahoo--not Google--to scour the Internet.

Rigodon Update IT veteran Dittas Formoso has signed up with the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) as a consultant.

It was earlier thought that Formoso was gunning for the post as commissioner, after CICT chair Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua interviewed her for the job last January. Formoso, however, said the agency is still looking for candidates to fill up vacancies at the agency after the departure of some its commissioners.

As consultant, Formoso said she'll be taking up projects in the CICT's Human Capital Development Group, which is currently handled by CICT commissioner and National Computer Center director-general Tim Diaz de Rivera.

Formoso last worked for Microsoft Philippines. She left the company abruptly after a heated discussion with top regional executives, following the departure of Antonio "TJ" Javier as managing director. Before that, she was connected with the Philippine office of Lotus Notes, now part of IBM.