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Great Tech Companies We Loved and Lost

Filipinos love tech. Despite being a 3rd-world country, we’re always considered early adaptors or heavy users. Why else are we considered the Social Media Capital of the World?

A lot of tech companies consider the Philippines their home or, at least, a great place to gain massive adaption. And us Filipinos almost always deliver. But, alas, the love affair doesn’t always last forever.

Here are some great tech companies that thrived in the Philippines and their eventual demise.

Yahoo!

Many might not see Yahoo! as their preferred search engine but a lot of the services and apps made by this Web 1.0 giant were a Filipino favorite. Everyone has Yahoo! Mail back then, some of them still being used until this day. Yahoo! Groups had the most number of users from the Philippines and so did Yahoo! Games (anybody still remember playing online chess and scrabble with their Yahoo! friends back in 2002?).

Yahoo! Messenger was the de facto chat service and the free chat-to-SMS feature was a lifesaver. Yahoo! Answers was also one of the channels I frequent a lot.

But alas, good things must come to an end. The Yahoo! Philippines portal officially shut down in June 2015, followed by Yahoo! Messenger in July 2018, Yahoo! Groups in December 2020 and only recently, Yahoo! Answers was also closed in May 2021.

Chikka

Chikka had the makings of a great tech company. In fact, we thought it was way ahead of its time — ahead of Viber, WhatsApp, Line and KakaoTalk.

Aside from being a popular mobile instant messaging, it offered mobile payment using load credits, Free-Reply SMS, mobile auctions, matchmaking and social networking, among others.

This locally-developed messaging app could have made it globally and, at its peak, its services were available with 45 carries in 14 countries. It had over 38 million users at that time.

In November 2009, we broke the story that Smart bought Chikka.com and inside sources told us the deal was worth around Php750 Million (not a bad exit if I may add).

Perhaps, that deal with Smart sealed its fate and in March 2018, Chikka announced that it will completely shutdown.

At the time it closed down, there were actually 4 other services offering similar features (4 Alternative Sites Similar to Chikka).

Multiply

Multiply started out as a social networking service. Its official entry in the Philippines started out in late 2007 when it made a ad deal with local TV network ABS-CBN.

In November 17, 2008, ABS-CBN made an announcement that it bought a 5% minority stake of Multiply.com.

By October 2010, Multiply was increasing its foothold in the Philippines and started looking for a General Manager. It re-invented itself as an e-commerce platform and pumped Php25 million to promote it, inviting big names like Kimstore and DBGadgets to re-locate with them. YugaTech was even giving away Php5,000 credits to readers just so people will try their platform.

The pivot was just too late and in May 6, 2013, Multiply Philippines officially announced it will permanently shut down.

Uber

Ride-sharing service Uber had a sweet but short stint in the Philippines between 2014 and 2018. People loved Uber and the service highlighted what was completely wrong with our transport system in the country.

In March 2018, Uber announced it was selling its South-East Asian business to Grab who is a major player in the region. Sad, but the odds were against Uber at that time (4 Reasons the Grab and Uber merger was unavoidable).

HonestBee

Honestbee entered the Philippine market sometime in November 2017. It became an early favorite, not for its food delivery service but mostly because of the on-demand grocery delivery feature, especially that had an exclusive partnership with Rustan’s Marketplace.

It did not take very long though and by April 2019, Honestbee had ceased operations in the Philippines.

Honorary Mention.

Sulit.com.ph

Sulit to OLX to Carousell. We could not really say that we lost Sulit since it’s just been gobbled up twice and now transformed to Carousell. Yet, there’s that little space in our hearts that tells us Sulit is gone. It’s one of the most celebrated local start-up success in recent history.

Friendster

Not a lot of kids these days will remember Friendster. It was the Facebook of our tito’s and tita’s generation.

And, we’ve talked about it a lot:

Social Media Sites of the Past
Dead Social Media Sites: What Happened?
#Trending: What’s your Friendster story?

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Avatar for Abe Olandres

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech with over 20 years of experience in the technology industry. He is one of the pioneers of blogging in the country and considered by many as the Father of Tech Blogging in the Philippines. He is also a technology consultant, a tech columnist with several national publications, resource speaker and mentor/advisor to several start-up companies.

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