|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Arabic Wikipedia. (July 2012)|
|Headquarters||Dubai, United Arab Emirates|
|Key people||Ahmed Nassef, MD/VP, Yahoo! Middle East|
|Products||(Maktoob#Maktoob-owned sites and services)|
Maktoob Inc. (Arabic: مكتوب) is an Arab Internet services company, founded in Amman, Jordan known for being the first Arabic/English email service provider. "Maktoob" in Arabic means "letter", "written", or "Destiny". Maktoob today has more than 280 employees with offices in Amman, Dubai, Cairo, Riyadh, and Kuwait. On 25 August 2009, Yahoo! Inc. announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Maktoob.com, thus turning Maktoob into Yahoo!'s official arm in the MENA region. Eventually Maktoob was sold to Yahoo!.
Maktoob was founded in 1998 by Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury who were able to introduce a webmail service with Arabic support for emails when no other free email service had such support. They also helped users who did not have Arabic keyboard or browsers that support Arabic to send and receive emails by using a virtual keyboard which was done in Java, and using Java applets that had better Arabic support.
The initial flourish of Maktoob and its large user base led the company to create several services and content channels for Arab users, many of which were not found previously in Arabic format. Chatting, Greeting Cards, and simple content channels were upon the first to be developed internally. Since then, Maktoob diversified its services through both acquisitions and internal development to have close to 40 different channels and services.
The success of the Maktoob portal drove the company to start new online businesses. cashU was founded to address the issue of electronic payments in the region, Souq.com as an auctions and marketplace; www.tahadi.com was founded to provide the best MMO/MMORPG games for the Middle East internet users, Araby.com an Arabic Search engine; Maktoob Research an online Research service and Sukar.com the first and biggest online private shopping club in the Middle East, founded by Saygin Yalcin.
Abraaj Capital acquisition
In June 2005, the UAE-based private equity house Abraaj Capital purchased 40% of the company shares in a USD 5.2 million buyout deal. The rationale for such an acquisition (according to Abraaj's website) is that Maktoob has a large user base (claimed to be more than 4 million) and, according to marketing literature, "a dominant online payment option cashU and a strong brand name. It has established the first Arab online auction site souq.com which will benefit from leveraging the large community network." So far, Maktoob has not revealed any net revenue figures, although claiming to make a profit for the past few years. In December 2007, Abraaj sold its share to Tiger Global Management with an Internal rate of return of 75%.
In 2009, Maktoob was sold to Yahoo! for $164 million.
Maktoob-owned sites and services
- Yahoo! Maktoob Blog: Arabic Blog Service
- Yahoo! Maktoob As7ab Maktoob: The first Arabic Social Networking service
- Yahoo! Maktoob News:News Service
- Yahoo! Maktoob Research: the Arab world's largest online marketing research business
- Yahoo! Maktoob Bentelhalal: Marriage portal
- Yahoo! Maktoob Travel: Arabic Community Travel Portal
- Yahoo! Maktoob Games: Casual Gaming with Arabic support
- Jeffrey Ghannam (3 February 2011). "Social Media in the Arab World: Leading up to the Uprisings of 2011". The Center for International Media Assistance. Retrieved 25 September 2013.