The Jakarta Post
Great expectations crumbled on Friday when Yahoo! officially announced the shutting down of Koprol, a geo-tagging website that the Internet giant once said would be a worthy competitor to rival sites and would hold a place in the Southeast Asian market.
Koprol, accessible via mobile phone, allowed users to check in and share information about locations.
A year after its launch by founders Satya Witoelar, Fajar Budiprasetyo and Daniel Armanto of PT SkyEighty, Koprol was acquired by Californian-based Internet giant Yahoo!.
During the introduction of Yahoo! Koprol, Yahoo! Indonesia expressed optimism that the site, which it had invested heavily in, would win the market despite the presence of similar sites, such as Foursquare.
Yet, Yahoo’s tone took an about-face in a message posted on the Yahoo! Koprol website.
“In line with Yahoo!’s focus on speeding up innovation with our core products and properties, over the coming months we are shutting down or placing in transition a number of portfolios that did not meaningfully drive revenue or engagement,” the announcement said.
However, Yahoo! avoided providing further details on issues connected to revenue and engagement.
The shutting down of Koprol came three months after the Koprol team became part of the 2,000 worldwide employees Yahoo! laid off in a bid to retain its position amid tough competition from Google and Facebook.
Nanda Ivens, a digital world observer, called the shutting down of Koprol “a shame” because the site had managed to considerably expand its user base only to have Yahoo! “chuck it into the dustbin”.
Koprol previously noted in 2011 that it had 1.5 million users coming from the likes of Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam, although 80 percent of users were Indonesian.
Nanda added that Koprol had been an “Indonesian institution” and that Yahoo! should have considered handing it over to others instead of shutting down.
Koprol, which means somersault, stood out because it was a local startup amid a clutter of others that had managed to attract investment from one of the world’s largest Internet companies.
Antonny Liem, a startup observer, added that Yahoo!’s business rationing, which had been enacted globally, could be one reason for disbanding Koprol.
“It could also be because startup sites from Indonesia are still focused on expanding their user [base] instead of on growing their revenues. Similarly, Koprol does not have a solid revenue model,” he told The Jakarta Post.
One of Koprol’s monetization strategies was collaborating with brands, including restaurants, to provide rewards to Koprol users who visited and checked in from the brands’ establishments.
He added that Koprol’s fate could act as a cautionary tale for other startups to practice caution in choosing a strategic partner or investor.
According to him, the lifespan of the partnership would be short if both sides differed in vision, such as on revenue.
He added that the Internet industry was still at an early stage, and hence it demanded investors to show “ flexibility”.
Rama Mamuaya, the founder of startup blog DailySocial, said that the incident with Koprol reminded startups that there was still much to be done by them even after the acquisition.
“Being acquired is like hitchhiking. The journey and destination does not end. It’s a journey with a new partner,” he said.