Cobone.com – a Dubai-based daily deal website – has been acquired by Middle East Digital Group only one year after being acquired by Tiger Global Management. The 2013 deal was worth between $20m and $40m for Jabbar Internet Group. Middle East Digital Group has not disclosed the purchase amount, and also has ExpatWoman.com in its portfolio.
Cobone was founded by Paul Kenny in 2010 and has become a well-known coupon website in the UAE region, also serving Saudi Arabia. Cobone sold 2.6 million coupons to date to 500,000 users, and has outlasted LivingSocial which exited the region in 2011.
ME Digital Group chief executive Jane Drury said, “I had been looking to develop e-commerce for ExpatWoman. We haven’t had any e-commerce on the site at all and I was looking at ways to introduce that, and then Cobone came on the market quietly this year and it was a case of being in the right place at the right time.”
According to Drury, Cobon’s platform will serve to complement ExpatWoman. They will now look into including shopping and purchasing on ExpatWoman. The company will also develop digital advertising for Cobone. Drury noted that Cobone will continue as experts in e-commerce as ExpatWomen will focus on editorial and connectivity. While they share a management team, the websites will still run as two businesses.
Kenny will focus on Safarna – a travel deal site – which is still in the Tiger Global Management portfolio. The rest of the management team for Cobone will move to Middle East Digital Group. There were no job losses in the acquisition.
Kenny said the sale process started at the end of the second quarter. The company made the decision to focus on the travel industry in order to do it well.
ME Digital Group will guide ExpatWoman to global expansion. The company’s reach has grown to 240 countries. Over 14,000 pages of content has been generated.
Drury said, “We now has seven sites in the Middle East, and from there we launched in Singapore, Hong Kong and Azerbaijan. We acquired ExpatWoman.com, which made us global and we will be looking to build on that global reach.”