Yahoo Downsizes In The Middle East, Closing Its Office In Amman, Jordan

Another week, and another workforce reduction for Yahoo. Today the company announced to employees in Amman, Jordan, that it will be shutting down its offices in the country by the end of the year. It will instead funnel those operations — an Arab-language and English-language Arab-focused Internet portal that it picked up by way of its acquisition of Maktoob for $85 million in 2009 — to another of Yahoo’s offices in the Middle East, in Dubai, as well as other regions.

We first received word of the closure via an anonymous tip, and Yahoo has now confirmed it (full statement below). Similar to last week when Yahoo confirmed layoffs of 400 people in India, mostly engineers, a spokesperson says the decision is part of its “global efforts to streamline operations.”

We are reaching out to Yahoo to ask if there are other office closures planned, and how many people are being affected. Some employees in Amman will be offered to relocate, the company says. (Update: On the subject of more closures, “We have not announced any plans to do so,” and it is not disclosing how many employees are being affected.)

It’s not clear how many users Yahoo’s Arab portal has today. At the time of the acquisition, Maktoob was a fast-rising star, with 16 million users, while Yahoo itself had 20 million users in the Arab region. Closing the Amman office follows Yahoo shuttering its operations in Cairo about a year ago — again, citing the same decision to streamline operations.

The Dubai offices, which were opened in 2010, at the same time that Yahoo opened a new office in Amman, appears to be the last remaining outpost for Yahoo in the Middle East — we’re confirming this, too.

(The picture illustrated here is of Maktoob’s original offices, taken in 2009.)

The Amman office had some fun in its day — even giving the world its own rendition of the Harlem Shake (remember that?).

However, as Yahoo gears up to report its Q3 earnings next week, all eyes will be on how well CEO Marissa Mayer is growing the business and performing in its core market of the U.S., and how well it is controlling costs elsewhere if it’s not growing.

In Q2, the company said that the EMEA region added only $87 million to the $1.04 billion in revenues that it reported for the quarter (ex-TAC). It doesn’t break out the Middle East, but the bigger picture is that it is likely to have been a pretty marginal business — or one that Yahoo never managed really to grow after acquisition, depending on how you look at it.

That’s not to say that the company hasn’t made any efforts. For example, in 2012, it signed this licensing deal to integrate Yamli, a smart Arabic keyboard, into Yahoo products.

As of Q2, Yahoo employed 12,000 people.

Full statement, and Amman’s Harlem Shake video below.

Today we informed our employees based in Amman, Jordan that we’ve made a difficult decision to close the office by end of the year. This decision is part of Yahoo’s global efforts to streamline operations that will help us execute more quickly and efficiently. The Middle East and North Africa will continue to be an important market for Yahoo and we remain committed to our users and advertisers in the region.

Amman has provided strong support for Yahoo in the Middle East and North Africa region with the acquisition of Maktoob, which remains a leading destination in the region. Yahoo Maktoob’s operations will continue to be supported from our regional offices in Dubai and from other locations.

All of our impacted employees will be treated with respect and fairness through this transition and we will be offering relocations to some employees. We are incredibly grateful for our employees’ hard work and remain thankful for all their contributions.


Image: Flickr