Welcome to the Philippines StartupDigest!

People loved the Developer Profile last week -- so much so that it has found a home and re-posted at Young Upstarts, a tech blog based in Singapore (thanks @danielgoh):

This week, the profile is on Michael Francis Smith, Jr. (aka Smitty), Yahoo! Director of Global Initiatives. What does that mean? He buys startups like Koprol :) In addition, we have a startup profile + partnership opportunity with

Next week's profile will be with Brian Quebengco, co-founder of Inovent [], a PH-based consumer electronics startup competing with Google TV. He's building this amazing TV called the Ilumina. As before, please send me your questions by just replying to this email.

Advanced Happy 4th of July!
Philippines StartupDigest is curated by:
Terence Pua, Co-Founder of Insync, @terencepua

Table of Contents:
  1. Highlighted Events
  2. Developer Profile
  3. Startup Profile
  4. Contact Info

Highlighted Events

Mashable Social Media Day (venue confirmed)
When: June 30 @ 8pm
Where: Starbucks @6750 Ayala Avenue, Makati City
More Info:

Google DevFest Manila (venue confirmed)
When: July 6 @ 8:00am
Where: UP-Ayala TechnoHub, Quezon City
More Info:

Globe Blackberry Great White BBM Eyeball
When: July 8 @10pm
Where: REPUBLIQ The Plaza, Resorts World, Newport City (across NAIA Terminal 3)
More Info:

Internet & Social Media Marketing Program
When: July 9 @8:30am
Where: Oakwood Hotel, Ortigas, Pasig
More Info:

Form, Function & Class
When: July 10
Where: Venue to be announced
More Info:

The Philippines Six Sigma Conference 2010
When: August 4
Where: Hotel Intercontinental, Makati City
More Info:

Philippine Tech Startups Meetup
When: August 14 @4:30pm
Where: The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Greenbelt 3, Makati
More Info:

The 4th Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit 2010
When: August 19
Where: SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City
More Info:

Pinoy Greyhat
When: October 23
Where: Venue TBD
More Info:

Developer Profile

With Michael Francis Smith, Jr. (aka Smitty), Yahoo! Director of Global Initiatives

1) What do you do?
I report to Sunnyvale but work across APAC to help craft our Yahoo! Developer Network strategies, assist business development for everything technical, and work with corporate development for possible acquisitions or strategic partnerships.

2) Why work in SE Asia?

Why not Shanghai or India or Japan? Great question. I have worked in all those places when I worked for BEA Systems. However I have only lived in Hong King, China, Thailand and now Singapore. I guess the easy answer is SEA is the last untamed part of Asia and I like the nuttiness, the growth, the cultural diversity and the warmth of the locals. SE Asia is where I like to live.

3) What's your latest project?

Right now it is to continue the expansion of YDN, ramp up Koprol and some other stuff I can’t talk about here. ;)

4) What is the most promising country (in terms of tech entrepreneurship/startups) in SEAsia?

I don't think you can really pin it on one place. Everywhere has pluses and minuses. For example Singapore has the environment but not the audience or enough talent. Thailand should be doing much better but politically it is help back. Vietnam has tons of promise but is challenging. I think PH could be doing better than it is but is dominated by old school thinking and funding models. Indonesia is booming but a long way from huge monetization. MY is small but probably a better place to make money than SG in the long term. So every place  is different and there are even things to be done in Laos, Cambodia and maybe even Myanmar someday. It is a big region and lots of things to discuss.

5) Is there a lack of innovation in the region?

I don't think so but sometimes it is hard to do something no one else has done while competing with silicon valley.

6) Do you see the brain drain stopping or even reversing?
I am not sure I see it but maybe from where I sit I don't notice it. I see people always coming and going and I also see lots of valley people wanting to come to asia. It is all one big melting pot of travel anyway isnt it?

7) Why is Yahoo! so involved in SE Asia?
I cant speak for decisions made prior to my arrival but I think SEA is one of the last big palces left in asia with no clear winners and there is a chance for huge growth. I think we have a nice beachhead and are looking to take large shares of users that are coming online for the first time. Tough to predict but I think we have a good chance.

8) You have been to Manila, how do you see startups here?
I have not done enough time there but I have not been seeing any reason to think it is behind or ahead of other places. I think with english and technical skills it should be ahead but I think the funding environment and telco stranglehold hold it  back. I think many people work in call centers or back office outsourcing versus building or working at a startup. PH will keep progressing and I guess I need to get more involved and see how to help it along. Would love some feedback on this subject!

9) What's the inside story on the Koprol acquisition?
Inside story? Hmmm. I don't think there is one and sure there are lots of stories along the way I cant tell but long story short things just kind of came together. Yahoo wants growth in indonesia – first and foremost. At the same time we are exploring how product like Koprol could be used in other places – maybe PH for example. I happened to meet the guys while we were looking for open hack day stories and over time it grew into being an acquisition. It  was never a slam dunk but it seemed to be progress over time and build towards what you see now. We have a lot of work to do and this is only the beginning but it is exciting and a good barometer for the SEA region. That is one of the results I am most excited about.

10) Why did Yahoo! buy Koprol?
I think I answered it above but we want to be locally relevant,have local talent and expand our product org. In all of the cases Koprol seems to fit and we have a new talent pool to help us win in Indonesia.

11) Will Koprol expand to the US? If so, will it retain the brand?

Our current goal is not North America or Europe. We are very clear about what we can and can’t do. Apart from that though the world is pretty big and we see some huge places we can get to that are good fit for Yahoo! And Koprol. Right now the product is Koprol from Yahoo! and it may or may not change over time as we examine and research the product for new markets.

12) How would you go about nurturing and investing in startups here?
I think the incubators are a nice way to move things forward and I like what I am seeing in SG but that model needs to spread throughout the region more. I think there are some successes in SEA and people need to emulate what is working and kill what isnt. I think better times are ahead and people will see the only option is not just china, india, US or europe but that SEA is another regional play. It is early days yet but the growth looks to be there however the question is will the money be there and will there be room for locals or will the fabric of the web be dominated by a few players? Tough to answer but I am hopeful for some local innovation. Things like Insync are a great example!

Smitty will be one of the speaker at OpenWeb.Asia being held in Kuala Lumpur on July 13-14:

Startup Profile is a search engine for ferry timetables in the Philippines, developed after frustrating experiences with having to either ask around or look through newspapers to find information about how to travel from island to island. Instead of having to look through schedules, you can simply say where you want to go and when, and the system finds the possible trips. was developed by Kude Labs, Chinese company run by Silicon Valley engineers. The same software engine is also used to power similar sites for train and bus schedules in China ( A lot of effort was put into making entering and maintenance of schedule information as efficient as possible.  The system also generates search engine-friendly informative pages with schedule information, for example: 

Since the company is based in China and offers many other services, they are looking for a Filipino partner to run the site, maintain the data, promote the site online and offline, and possibly extend it to bus travel.

They are also looking for partners in other countries that could use a similar service (Indonesia, for example).

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