Aug 24, 2011
Google Inc. may pursue technology assets to expand in Southeast Asia after Internet operators including Tencent Holdings Ltd. and LivingSocial acquired companies to add services and users in the region.
“We’ll continue to innovate ourselves, but where it makes sense, we will look out for opportunities,” Julian Persaud, managing director for Google in Southeast Asia, said in a video conference from Bangkok today, without elaborating. He couldn’t immediately confirm if the U.S. company previously made an acquisition in Southeast Asia.
Google, owner of the world’s most-popular search engine, is stepping up expansion in countries including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, where companies allocate a smaller proportion of their advertising spending online compared with the U.S. and Europe. Tencent, China’s biggest Internet company by revenue, and LivingSocial, the second-biggest coupon site, have unveiled investments in Southeast Asian Web firms in the past two years.
Internet advertising accounts for 1 percent to 2 percent of the marketing spending of companies in Southeast Asia, excluding Singapore, Persaud said. That compares with 27 percent in the U.K., and about 20 percent in Australia and the U.S., he said.
“We have proven recently as a company, that we are prepared to make acquisitions, wherever it makes sense,” Persaud said. “It wouldn’t make sense to exclude a part of the world, and say we wouldn’t look there.”
Earlier this month, Google agreed to buy Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. for $12.5 billion in its largest acquisition.
The Mountain View, California-based company will focus its efforts on Google+, rather than Orkut, in Southeast Asia’s social-networking market, Persaud said. Google is working on developing local versions of products including mapping and the Chrome Web browser, he said.
“A lot of our activity will be based around the Google+, rather than Orkut, in this region,” Persaud said. “It’s still a project.”
In June, Google unveiled its new Google+ social-networking service with streaming updates of photos, messages and other content from selected groups of friends, in a fresh attempt to compete with Facebook Inc.
Orkut, a social network started by Google in 2004, is popular in markets such as India and Brazil.
Google today said it would open an office in Bangkok, after setting up operations in Malaysia earlier this year.
Tencent last year bought a 49.9 percent stake in Thailand’s Sanook. LivingSocial this month said it will buy TicketMonster Inc., a South Korean company that also offers services in Malaysia.
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