Jeeran acquires Talasim
Jeeran, the Jordanian online community portal, has made its first acquisition in its quest to launch a series of local websites in the region this year. Omar Koudsi, the co-founder and chief executive of Jeeran, said it had acquired the Arabic entertainment start-up Talasim and its engineering team for US$1 million (Dh3.6m) in Jeeran stock. Although the transaction may be small compared with Yahoo's acquisition of the portal Maktoob last August for $164m, the deal is an indication that the Arab online start-up business is beginning to mature.
"By any measure, Talasim was going to be one of the big things in the Arab world," said Mr Koudsi. "But for us to really be something, we had to combine forces. We're going to make use of [Talasim] as an entertainment content asset of Jeeran and we need the founders to help build us our products." Jeeran is one of the Arab world's most popular and oldest online destinations with about 7.5 million unique visitors logging on to the website last month. It was founded about 10 years ago and has been funded by two venture capital firms, IV Holdings and Intel Capital.
Over the past year, Talasim has emerged as an Arab-based start-up to watch. The website won the top prize last year in London at SeedCamp, an international competition that provides entrepreneurs with funding and incubation assistance. "For companies like Jeeran to take it to the next level, we need to keep entrepreneurial types within the company," said Mr Koudsi. "We cannot survive if we just have three really good people and 50 average staff."
The website is preparing to roll out localised versions of its portal, with the UAE and Saudi Arabia to be the first this year. Mr Koudsi said Talasim engineers would be the main developers behind its localisation plans. "When the world thinks of what is a successful Arab website, I think that there's a void there," he said. "What we want to do is fill up this void and I believe a lot of that is going to happen - localisation where websites cater to each country's unique demands."
Mr Koudsi said Jeeran had begun offering its employees a stock option package this month to help retain talent, and hire talented Arab engineers. @Email:email@example.com