by Esther Fung

Updated 08:47 AM Jun 10, 2009

Mr Ken Mandel, vice president and managing director of Yahoo! Southeast Asia. Photo Courtesy of Yahoo! Southeast Asia

UPBEAT about its prospects in South-east Asia including Singapore, American search engine firm Yahoo! is now hiring more staff here - a turnaround from the layoffs carried out last year.

"What we're doing now is hiring specific people for specific areas. Every company goes through a downsizing phase especially when the world economy is imploding," Mr Ken Mandel, vice-president and managing director of Yahoo South-east Asia, said on the sidelines of the ad:tech fair for digital marketers yesterday.

The firm is now looking to hire people in Singapore with competencies in performance marketing and business development.

Yahoo's website lists at least 23 available positions in the region, with over half of the openings in Singapore.

Media reports last year said that Yahoo's South-east Asia headquarters, based here, employs about 150 staff.

Mr Mandel declined to provide any employment figures and would only say that the company axed less than six per cent of its workforce in South-east Asia last year.

"We wanted to make sure our organisation was poised for growth because it was a matter of time before the economy sorted itself out, and we'd be back on the fast track of growth," Mr Mandel, who took on his current role in January last year, told Today.

Last year was about plugging gaps, but, the focus this year is to accelerate growth, he added.

In Singapore, Yahoo is targeting small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), especially "smaller players who just want to reach someone very specific," said Mr Mandel.

SME owners, after buying keywords related to their specific businesses, will have leads generated by the search engine.

Yahoo, which has 50 million unique users a month in South-east Asia out of a total of 100 million Internet users, sees potential growth in the online advertising space.

"Right now, we're looking at one or two per cent of total advertising spend in Singapore," said Mr Mandel. Through education, he hopes that online advertising spend would make up at least 10 per cent.

From TODAY, Business – Wednesday, 10-Jun-2009; see the source article here.

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