Talk about being hit by lightning. On Tuesday night I was told that the Koprol team at Yahoo! had been building what was going to be Koprol 2.0, a major reimagining of Koprol. The six month work had delivered something that would have been a much better product. It was going to be a leaner and more focused Koprol. On Wednesday morning, I went to Yahoo! Indonesia’s offices to find out what it was all about and later put everything in this blog post. And then this happened.
The layoffs were coming. Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson announced it a couple of days ago and Sarah Lacy heard that the International Yahoos were likely to be hit the hardest. Former developer lead Michael “Smitty” Smith Jr. penned a post of his own last weekend about this entire situation. Sources told Reuters that Yahoo is going to have an all hands meeting on Tuesday about the future of the company.
While Koprol had never matured to be a wildly popular product the way Foursquare did, it had a strong community support from a seriously hardcore band of Koprol members. Koprol’s acquisition in 2010 was seen as a highlight of Indonesia’s technological scene although I’m more inclined to see it as a way for Yahoo! to set up a presence in Indonesia legally and a backup to Yahoo!’s failed bid for Foursquare. Of course, Smitty would knock me on the head for saying this but that’s my view of the situation.
Last night Koprol’s product lead Satya Witoelar listed the names of Koprol’s former engineers and designers on his blog to help them find new jobs, which we reproduced in an earlier post. He said that the entire team was laid off, including himself and the other founders. I asked Witoelar about the layoffs this morning and he said, “We are still in shock about the layoffs, and just been grateful of people’s help in offering jobs to the [team]“.
At the moment, there’s no word as to what is going to happen to Koprol as the product was not listed among the ones that will be shut down. Witoelar said, “We understand lots of Yahoo! products around the world will be ordered to shut down. Hopefully we get more info about products including Koprol next week after the impact of the layoff settles”.
Not long after he sent me that email, Kara Swisher reported that the company’s product chief Blake Irving had resigned. I guess that meeting will go on without him.
Many of Yahoo! Indonesia’s laid off staff no longer have jobs as per today but a small number including Koprol’s founders are being retained for the next three months. For what purpose is unclear right now, perhaps to assist in the transition and to help determine direction of the local products before handing them off to other teams across the globe if the products survive the cut.
Again, the future of Koprol is unclear at the moment. The product is clearly still operational right now but we won’t know for sure how long it will remain. With the team gone and the product being specific to Indonesia and Southeast Asia, the future doesn’t look bright for Koprol.
When asked if he plans to release the reimagined Koprol as a new product under a new company the way Dennis Crowley launched Foursquare after his Dodgeball project was canned by Google, Witoelar declined to comment. “It’s too early”, he said.