Smart + Rocket Internet = Voyager > Chikka?

It’s coming together – the ultimate plan of Smart to wipe out the culture of Chikka. Well, it’s not deliberate I guess but that’s the effect of the new business direction that we’re headed. You should well know that recently, PLDT bought 10% of Rocket Internet. If you don’t know Rocket Internet, it’s the parent company of Voyager — just look at the similarity of their names and logos! Exploring the depths off this planet thru a rocket and stuff.

Just kidding. Rocket Internet is the biggest copycat there is on the face of the interwebs. But the good thing about it is that it brings internet products and services to developing markets like our country. If you ever got rescued by Easy Taxi during your morning commute towards a big boss meeting, you have Rocket Internet to thank for that. If you applauded Zalora or Lazada by their prompt delivery of that cat double bed you ordered, applaud Rocket Internet. We in this developing country need not wait for Amazon to cater to us – Rocket Internet’s business model is built this way. They will bring Amazon to our doorstep but in a different packaging under a different name. You may call it fakery, unoriginal, imitation — or class A if you may but what more can you ask for? They are serving us iPhone 6 just weeks after it was released in public. Otherwise, telcos will offer it a day before Apple releases yet a new version.

This is the reality that we’re in now, the business model of Rocket Internet is being adopted by Smart – putting Voyager in the place of Rocket Internet. Voyager will incubate ideas – a new one or an existing one and it will be spun into the hands of an “independent” company. In case you’ve noticed the quotation marks, you might have sensed my sarcasm. The independence of a company isn’t simply rooted to it’s differently-incorporated name. It’s not even in the effectiveness of it looking like it has sprung from bright ideas and hard work without any backing from big shots. It’s effectiveness lies behind its culture – it’s years and years of built-in traditions, values, and principles.

When a parent company suddenly barges in with all these new business directions, they would be like two giant feet trampling over ants mound. People and everything they built will be disturbed — some will run around like headless chickens. It will spell D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R. Sometimes C-H-A-N-G-E spells the same. But let me be clear — change is good especially for a very stagnant and antiquated product development company like Chikka. Development is best for everyone especially in the view of sustainability and progress. But the balance between upholding a company’s culture and introducing development to it is very delicate — tip one side over and you get a very people-centric company and tip the other side over, then walls come crashing down on them. In this situation Smart did it poorly. Two giant feet.

This is all about business but the people are a company’s greatest asset. Or are they?


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