Jason Xenopoulos has been ingrained in the making of South African internet from day one. In the dot com boom and bust he lead a band of young (now familiar) internet executives in building Metropolis Interactive. In true Silicon Valley type fashion they raised (and burned) over a R100m trying to build a company in a very under developed internet sector (watch the interview to find out what happened).
Many years on he came back and convinced the same guys he was working with before at Metropolis and VWV Interactive to merge their growing companies and start a new mega agency – enter Native. I sat down with Jason as he gave me insight into how Native came about and how they are overcoming some of their biggest challenges. Full transcript below.
Charl: Jason Xenopoulos, welcome to Bandwidth Blog video.
Jason Xenopoulos: Hi Charl, thank you.
C: Before we get into the making of Native, I want to talk a little bit about your history. I’ve always been quite fascinated about the dot com boom and bust in South Africa and you were right in the middle of the trenches with your Metropolis Transactive business. Tell us about you know what the landscape was like back then and you know listing the entity on the stock exchange etc… (more…)
There have been rumblings in our local community that Old Mutual have acquired local finance startup 22seven.
BWB can now confirm that this is true, based on the below internal memo sent to Bandwidth Blog.
The acquisition comes as part of Old Mutual’s strategy to develop digital support for its customers that now wholly-owns the Cape Town based startup.
We previously video interviewed Christo Davel, the founder of 22seven about his new company.
Davel has now officially commented on the acquisition saying, “We’re fired up about where we can now take 22seven, and I don’t just mean geographically. We’ve always had big plans for our service, and what we think it’s capable of doing. With Old Mutual’s support, the evolution and enhancement will happen much faster.”
Read the memo below:
I had the opportunity to sit down, once again, with Alan Knott Craig Jnr, to discuss his high profile exit from Mxit. We spoke about his thoughts on the industry, the future of Mxit and what’s next for him. We met in the very same office as the first interview, which we filmed just after he acquired Mxit.
Alan is currently in America. Why? Watch the video interview to find out.
See the video and full transcript after the jump. (more…)
In a Bandwidth Blog exclusive, it has been confirmed that independent online retailer SAcamera, that sells photographic equipment and accessories has been acquired by MIH Internet Africa, a subsidiary of Naspers Ltd.
MIH will be integrating SAcamera into its very own e-commerce site Kalahari.com. As a seller of books, movies, games and electronics, SAcamera will retain its own identity as part of South Africa’s biggest online store as the specialist photographic equipment and accessories partner.
Jesse Hemson-Struthers, who established SAcamera in 2004, said the deal would see the business benefit from the infrastructure and resources of MIH in continuing its growth. “The appetite for online retailing in South Africa, and for quality products backed up by efficient service at the right price, has grown, and continues to grow significantly,” says Hemson-Struthers.
Hemson-Struthers added that the management team of SAcamera.co.za would remain in place. He added that “Aligning with MIH and Kalahari.com is already contributing to the growth of SAcamera. We are actually expanding our team to cope with the surge in demand over the past year and we expect the relationship to continue yielding positive results for both SAcamera and Kalahari.com”
The acquisition price was not disclosed.
Jesse is also the Co-Founder of BetTech Gaming, a cloud sports betting platform provider that powers many book makers online sports betting ambitions like local player – Bet.co.za. Jesse noted that he welcomed the SAcamera acquisition which would allow him to focus more of his time on his sports betting company.
We learned last week that Vodacom was looking to find new investors for Zoopy or even sell the company outright.
Bandwidth Blog just received this official statement from Jason Elk, Co-Founder of Zoopy:
After launching Zoopy in March 2007, we have built a company and service that we have been incredibly proud of. We have decided that it’s now time for us to move on to new opportunities and we will be leaving Zoopy at the end of September. We would like to wish the company the very best going forward. Jason Elk, CEO Pat Elk, Operations Director
What does the future hold for Zoopy with its parent company looking for outside investors and the champions of the business leaving after 6 years? Zoopy’s rebirth was a well executed play and seemed like a logical move seeing as its parent company is a mobile network operator. MNO’s are looking at various ways to drive data revenue and Zoopy’s short video news clips did just that.
But with all that expensive video equipment, editing and presenter staff (see their old office photos here) it’s likely a costly operation to maintain and with digital ad revenue, especially video ads, not quite mature enough in our local industry to be a big revenue driver for them.
Zoopy played its part in establishing Cape Town as a local startup hub and we would like to wish Jason and Pat good luck with their next move.
Christo Davel is a veteran of our local internet community. He made waves with his 20twenty virtual bank startup more than 10 years ago and now he’s back helping consumers understand their spending habits – enter 22seven.
Click play below to watch the video interview. Full interview transcript below.
Charl: Christo Davel, welcome to Bandwidth Blog video.
Christo: Thank you.
Charl: For the readers of Bandwidth Blog, before we get into 22seven I just want to talk about one of your previous companies. Along time ago you started a very innovative company called 20twenty which was just an online bank right in the dot com boom and bust. tell us a little about that.
Christo: 20twenty launched in 2001, so it was you right, it was right in the flux of the dot com boom and bust. The idea was to create a bank that people would ultimately love, um, using tech to make that possible. The challenge then was to convince people that banking online is a viable option. We had to convince people it’s safe, that you don’t have a branch so it shows you how long ago that was. But our backer was Sambo Bank and Sambo went into curatorship six months after we launched. So the truth is that 20twenty was only alive for six months. I stuck around, we were committed not to let our customers lose any money, and eventually sold to Standard Chartered Bank, 18 months later so that was quite a fascinating journey. (more…)
Ad Dynamo has announced its entry into Brazil today.
“Brazil represents an enormous growth market in both online and mobile advertising, and we’re very pleased to be launching here with a relevant and established player such as Realmedia,” says Sean Riley, CEO of Ad Dynamo.
Though today is the official launch date, Ad Dynamo has been quietly building traction in Brazil over the past couple of months. The global contextual ad marketplace brings more choice to the market currently dominated by Google. Website owners who work with Ad Dynamo get paid faster than any other ad network can offer, and advertisers now have an additional avenue to reach their targeted audiences within Brazil.
Realmedia serves more than 3,4 Billion ads per month in Brazil and represents a very interesting proposition – this is a market where Ad Dynamo launches with real traction and critical mass.
Couple this with Ad Dynamo’s global publisher network of more than 26,000 websites, Brazilian advertisers have a compelling option to market their businesses both within Brazil and abroad.
Over the next month, Ad Dynamo will be launching a Brazilian Portuguese version of the site and introduce Brazilian Real support for both publishers and advertisers. In addition, Brazilian based publishers have the option to be paid in their local currency, the Ad Dynamo Debit Card is already available as an alternative form of receiving funds – publishers that qualify get their very own Visa card that is automatically topped up monthly with the revenue they earn by placing ads on their website.
According to Peter Gervai, Managing Director at Realmedia “Realmedia consolidated its story through the areas of technology and media in vertical sites. Our plans for the next year includes expanding the range of products we offer to the market and increasing participation in various forms to meet the consumer at the right time. Partnering with Ad Dynamo is an important step on this path, especially because Ad Dynamo is as dynamic and agile as our market. “
Rob Stokes has built one of South Africa’s most successful digital agencies – Quirk. BWB video takes you inside what it’s like running a mega multi-national agency. Click play below for the interview and you will find the full transcript below.
C: Rob Stokes welcome to Bandwidth Blog video.
R: Hello Charl nice to see you.
C: Congrats on all the recent success it seems that Quirk is just cleaning up all the awards.
R: (laughs) I think we’ve got a long way to go.
C: OK. Tell us about the early beginnings of Quirk you know legend has it you started in your bedroom.
R: That is a true legend strangely and embarrassingly to admit. I was in my third year of business science at UCT and I ran out of money and an entrepreneur makes a plan and so I started a business called Quirk and here we are today.
C: Beautiful story for your memoirs or autobiography one day.
R: It is yah. I think, tough beginnings make for hopefully a resilient business and we certainly had some tough beginnings so I’m hoping we will make it long term.
C: Tell us about Quirk today – the amount of staff, office locations etc…
R: So we got three agencies – Joburg, London and Cape Town. We’ve got about 200 staff in the agency side of the business and there’s about 100, 120 of them in Cape Town, 50 or 60 of them in Joburg and I think about 30 in London. We’ve also got a couple of other businesses. We’ve got an online education and training business specifically focused on marketing training called Quirk Education that’s got about 10, 15 people in it. We’ve got Brandseye which is an online reputation monitoring software. That’s also about 10,15 people and then much smaller business Idea Bounty which is a crowd sourcing platform and yah, the biggest of the three offices is Cape Town which is I guess because we were birthed here, which is in many respects our HQ but I see that momentum shifting increasingly to Johannesburg particularly next year. (more…)