MATTHEW BUCKLAND: Can Naspers’s fund help to find the elusive SA tech unicorn?
His view may explain why the company has been influenced to fund Naspers Foundry with R1.4bn, which will help SA technology entrepreneurs grow their start-ups.
Former Naspers CEO Koos Bekker has always been vocal about the lack of good technology entrepreneurs in SA. It’s a statement that makes many wince and defensively start rattling off a list of successful local tech entrepreneurs. Why, they say, there is Takealot.com, led by former Naspers man Kim Reid, and the edtech business Getsmarter that was recently sold for $100m. And many more. But people misunderstand Koos. He is not talking about these businesses at the level they think he is. When he says the country has no great tech entrepreneurs, he is thinking on a much bigger scale. This is a man who bought a stake in the massive gaming and social network conglomerate Tencent, and who once flirted with buying a stake in a fledgling Linked.in many years ago. (It didn’t happen, and not without some regret.) The truth of the matter is that this country, for all its tech talent, has yet to produce a “unicorn” in the technology wave of the last 20 years. A unicorn is defined as a privately ...
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