How the mighty Sulit became OLX PH

How the mighty Sulit became OLX PH

It is no secret how Sulit became the Philippine’s internet superstar since its inception in 2006. That’s why it’s a huge surprise how a giant could just suddenly give up all its brand equity to become the lesser-known OLX Philippines.

Before Sulit, there was Buy&Sell Philippines, the company behind the free classified ads magazine. It was husband and wife RJ David that proved the internet is a level playing field, starting Sulit from scratch and a meager budget of Php2,400.

The growth of Sulit was the envy of the owners of the Buy&Sell magazine that they tried, in vain, to regain the crown.

By 2009, there were a lot of interested buyers. This includes eBay and the now investor and majority owner, Naspers. Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) was also interested in Sulit and made an offer. When their bid failed, they formed a joint venture with Schibsted ASA (a leading classifieds ad company in Europe) to create AyosDito.

(Disclosure: The author was one of those who attempted to broker an investment deal, but it was too late since Sulit had agreed to the terms of Naspers).

Naspers bought 51% of Sulit for an undisclosed sum (see story here).

The initial investment catapulted Sulit from the top 25 most visited sites to no. 1. The team grew from an initial 5 (the founding couple and 3 friends/relatives working as Forum Moderators) to just under 50 in a short amount of time.

Succeeding investments made Sulit a household brand with big-budget spending on TV commercials, billboards and bus ads; that’s on top of digital campaigns via Google, Facebook and YouTube.

The company even grew to almost 100. The office atmosphere was like that of Facebook or Google that includes free buffet weekdays and even their very own Starbucks kiosk inside the office during anniversaries. This also further reduced the share of the founders to merely 17%.


With all the spending and the expansion, it was already obvious that Sulit was building for scale and market share instead of focusing on profitability. Majority of the revenues came from Google Ads and very little from direct or premium ads. Essentially, they were still operating at a loss. The goal was to get as much market share away from aggressive competitors like AyosDito, eBay and the likes.

Sulit was already enjoying in excess of 60% market share but it wasn’t enough. They needed to be bigger so that competitors would become insignificant. At least, that seemed to be the direction.

Meanwhile, the mother company also wanted to get into verticals. Tsikot was among those that were approached, with offers reaching up to Php100M in investments spread out in 5 years (see story here).

That deal fell through so Sulit had to pursue their own, pushing sub-domain verticals like and

Sulit even bought out the fledgling Pinoy Auto Trader (PAT), a promising vertical in the car classifieds market.

All the while, Naspers had something else in mind. Not soon after the acquisition of Pinoy Auto Trader, Sulit announced that it will be closing down the site; a move that surprised even the founders of PAT.

In December of 2013, another announcement was made — Sulit is merging with OLX. OLX has been around for as long as Sulit but they were never really active in the Philippines and thus, wasn’t even a familiar name to a lot of Sulitizens (a name referred to folks who are members of Sulit). Nevertheless, the site is also a leading brand in so many markets globally and they’re also partly owned by Naspers.

By then, it became apparent that Naspers was looking at another direction altogether. The decision was made. OLX will have to be the new face of Sulit (see story here). It was a quick decision since Naspers was the majority owner anyway.

While it was very hard, the founders had very little or no choice but to follow in that direction. If they want to retain Sulit as it is, there will be no more additional investments and Sulit had to become profitable and support their operations. If they merge with OLX and make the pivot, they get fresh infusion and continue to run the company. The founders practically shed tears over this decision but it was a sacrifice they had to make for all the years they spent in building the company and the brand. It was their baby.

OLX is a huge network globally and while Sulit will no longer be the banner brand, the people behind it and the community remains the same. This is a landmark story of two Filipino entrepreneurs aspiring to go big. It’s a story of success. The OLX merger is a testament to that.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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38 Responses

  1. roiji says:

    sulit was fast becoming a household name..
    sad to hear that they had to change the name and domain.
    “Sulit” was a good name.
    It shows what the website does and what the visitors can have.
    …i don’t even know what OLX means..
    it could be a abbreviation of some sort, or just some random 3-letter domain that was available for purchase back in 2006.

  2. Ralph says:

    Same story with Mang Inasal. Only, I hope this one would not taste worse once the acquisition was made.

  3. Mark Lacson says:

    I hope nothing but the name changes. I have been a long time member since early 2007 and was able to sell all my stuff with the help of this site.

    Sadly, “Sulit” sounded very local and something that we can say that was “Ours”. Well, change is constant. Hope this one is for the better.

  4. Bong Sanga says:

    It’s a business after all and they were able to use their tag line “IBENTA MO NA!” :)

  5. ross says:

    syempre alam na naman natin sikat na ang sulit, ginawa nila OLX para mapag usapan lalo marketing strategy yan, tingnan nyo napag uusapan natin. on my opinion nag invest na sila sa pangalang un pa ang binitawan nila ung olx oo sikat din sya pero hindi tulad ng kasikatan ng anyway sila na ang bahala dyan. baka nga talaga publicity yan strategy na yan.

  6. Eason says:

    I say it’s a bad move, they wanted growth too fast and they lost brand equity.

    To be honest I also search via before and I hated their site. Now they merged, I can’t help think of the same thing until now. Even though they merged with sulit already.

  7. Mr A says:

    So basically Sulit created their own bubble and when it burst they ran and sell their soul to olx.

    Oh well, this is one trait I notice working in startups ran by Filipinos, is that they are all about immediate impressions. Always go out with a bang and needs to have the most grandest thing without looking at the big picture.

  8. Larry Insider says:

    Well the sad part is that gave away it’s soul to Naspers/MIH for less than $1 million (they own around 83% of Sulit now) but effectively Naspers/MIH controls the company as if they owned 100%. It’s like holding them hostage. They can turn the brand/strategy around how they want. So this name change doesn’t come to a surprise. Also this is the same company that pulled the plug on Multiply from one day to another. Multiply was making around PHP 100MM a month before Naspers/MIH shut it down. FYI, Sulit currently makes less than PHP 20MM a year. They only live by the monthly money infusions they receive from Naspers/MIH. The founder couple is cute and good looking and that’s exactly what Naspers/MIH wants – they are the type of people who won’t get in your way once you control/own them.

  9. AndreiLucas says:

    This is clearly a stupid decision by Naspers.

    If they know better, they clearly would have retain the name Sulit and just keep the ownership as it is.

    They could have just merged the 2 brands together and retain the Sulit brand name rather than OLX since it’s obviously the former which had the more ‘power’ to it.

    The Sulit brand is such a popular brand that it could have easily gained investments from other sources.

    But well there’s nothing that we can do as it’s already final.

    Let’s just hope that Sulit will be able to retain its ‘core’ self.

  10. Abe Dumlao says:

    It is my surprise when i see on the net that they become

    I thank you for this couple Mr RJ that i been there top ten members of way bacj 2006. And once is one of our fund raising sponsor last 2012 for our club fun run

    Surely Filipinos won’t forget as a household name.

    BTW we just started same year when i put up my online car showroom with

    Good luck for all of us ….

  11. Shopper says:

    OLX is such a lousy site

    I’ll just use the

  12. jansen says:

    I hate OLX. They shortened the decription of the items we are selling, they are not accepting the picture we uploaded to represent our items or services even it was purchased online thru dreamline. I am so much dissappointed the very strict restriction… I will just watch their down fall. I spent a lot to bug SG, now NEVER!!!!

  13. online seller says:

    Same here. I hate OLX now. Super resricted na ang mga post. Di na tulad dati.

    As one suggested here, i tried yung
    And guess what, no restrictions applied. Superhaba ng description ko, kahit walang pics napopost. And maganda more than a year valid ang ad mo libre!! Di tulad sa OLX, 30 days lang magbabyad pa para sa SG. Buti may pumalit na sa OLX. na ako.

  14. Andre Pena says:

    Sulit (OLX) is still a good platfom to sell because of the traffic it generates.. but there has been a lot of complains lately posted in the could be some migration issues but they could fix it.. Ayosdito is a clear runner up but I don’t like the’s too outdated for me..and its owned by another foreign company… An alternative is ..very simple and it’s a good platform if you want your ad to reach the overseas filipino workers market.

  15. Noehms says:

    It was a hard hit in my head when I learned that sulit will be out and replaced by OLX. But since this article shed light that the team behind sulit will still be the one to manage the new site then I guess it is fine.

  16. Noel says:

    It has been downhill since SULIT sold out to OLX. There are so many restrictions on posting an ad like you have to post actual picture, you cant place any design on your ad and such.

    Right now, I still do post in OLX, but does not get the same sales there as before. However, I do also post in AYOS and MYBENTA.

  17. Lloyd says:

    Please pakibalik na ang ayosdito kasi walang kwenta ang olx . Wala na nag tetxt sa akin mula nung nagcombine ang dalawa. .d na tuloy ako maka pagbuy n sale. .ang panget ng olx . .e balik nyo na ang ayos. .ayos is the #1 website sa mga buy n sale. .

  18. sulit_much_better_b4 says:

    naging bulok na sulit simula ng merging, dami ng bawal, mga pics, cp number, links tas tinanggal pa ang feedback system.
    kung sino man nakaisip na tanggalin ang feedback system ay napakahina ng utak, san na magre-rely ang mga buyers para makita ang background ng seller kung scammer ba ito o hinde.
    siguradong magiging pugad ng mga scammers ang olx dahil sa wala na ang feedback system up-to-sawa na ang manloloko sa pag scam, unli-scam na yan.
    hindi ko alam kung nagtitipid sila sa resources nila o sadyang mahina lang talaga ang kokote ng olx.
    ibalik nyo ang dating sulit, mas higit na matino kesa sa bulok na olx.
    mga manloloko lang ang makikinabang sa ginawa nyo mga walang utak.

  19. bobong_staff_olx says:

    BOBO ng mga staff ng OLX lahat na lang bawal. mga gago!
    tang ina nyo OLX!

  20. Vernel says:

    Yes. simula ng naging OLX na ang sulit, humina na ang benta. di mo pa alam bakit di lumalabas sa search ang ads mo eh parepareho naman ang sinulat na terms. Isa pa yung nawala ang feedback system na pinagpaguran mong dumami.

    Kung sino man ang humahawak ng OLX ngayon.


    It will go down the drain.

    Buti na lang meron pang TPC and TCP

  21. IAN says:


  22. This is not the same we have known for being helpful to all small time enterpreneurs that open our doors to business opportunies being in online buying & selling.

    Majority of the Sulitzens are very disappointed right now. You cannot post your ads now for free. Unlike before you can post your unlimited ads for free.

    OLX.PH really sucks. If you continuesly doing your unfriendly approach most of us will look for a better alternative. Remember is nothing without the people who patronizes your website.

    You have allowed all the notorious scammers to succeed with their illegal activities by removing the feedback system.

    Hope your management will listen to our sentiments before it’s too late for you.

  23. OLX stands for OnLine Exchange…

  24. OLX is the worst site ever. It bills the sellers for every ad. Plenty of loopholes.Better move to other sites and post your ad free. Good by OLX-Sunglit!

  25. Lorelei says:

    I got scammed in last monday. The ONLY time i got suckered in my 11 years of shopping online and by a fellow filipina no less. I’ve been an ayosdito member since 2010. it used to be fun there but now it’s just disappointing. I’m NEVER visiting the OLX.PH site again even if anyone would dare pay me to. Good luck to those who still do. Scammers must be so happy that the OLX feedback system is gone.

  26. dissatisfied says:

    removing the feedback feature is such a dumb move that it fails to make sense. everytime you look into a prospective item you want to buy and click on the details of the seller they are always newly created accounts which definitely leads to warning signs as the items are always just for shipping, now isn’t that just convenient. its ridiculous, might as well look into other sites to purhase item till they get their shit together.

  27. wakkafon says:

    ….. and starts the fall of :D

  28. Liza May says:

    For olx alternative I’m currently posting my ads at The website is user friendly and have a supportive admins. Plus traffic is starting to grow. So expect lots of sales from that website. :)

  29. Jeph San Pedro says:

    I went back to Sulit/OLX after a year of my last transaction and then this crap greeted me! Where the hell is the feedback or review features?! I already garnered some positive seller reviews from the past! How am I suppose to know if a seller is credible from his/her past transactions?

    I recently had a transaction that got awry because this seller backed out the last second, texting me he already sold the unit to someone else. WTF??? We had a deal and he just bolted out without informing me. I adjusted my work schedule and this is what I get. Now I cannot even leave a warning for other buyers to this seller’s bad treatment to a customer.

    If this is OLX way of “innovation” then I’m out. They’re practically shooting their own foot to cure an itch.

  30. Jan says:

    Sulit is horrible now and you’re likely to get scammed or flaked on by fake buyers and sellers. It’s been obvious that they’re trying to monetize on a poor business model. They can’t make money off ads that people just don’t click on. Impressions sure but clicks no. EBay is better.

  31. brian says:

    olx is a big disappointment. i tried to reset my password and a link was sent to my cell phone but when you click it you will get the page that says “we are under maintainance”. I waited for weeks but still I get the same page. Now I can’t get back to my account because of it. Olx/sulit is almost telling all of us that they are nothing but sh*t

  32. lord says:

    they’re now successful in killing the companies altogether – ayosdito, sulit, olx. *slow clap*

  33. Xion lim says:

    Worst app ever… delete! Whats the new alternate app for free selling in the Philippines?

  34. adel santos says:

    now …Feb 1 2017..they removed the “saved bookmark” feature…damn I was going to buy a certain house which I saved but now I have to find it again …shitty management will kill this company I’m sure!

  35. Jasper Laguitao says:

    i was trying to find my boyfriend something nice in OLX. instead I got scammed. so much for my hard earned money working parttime selling myself =(

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