How M-Net was started with R50,000

To build a successful business one needs a good business plan, a great business team, and the support of the board of directors, said former Naspers chair Ton Vosloo.

By - January 29, 2016 Share on LinkedIn
Mnet M-net blue logo

To build a successful business one needs a good business plan, a great business team, and the support of the board of directors, former Naspers chair Ton Vosloo said on Wednesday.

He was the guest speaker at the annual general meeting of Kaapstad Sakekamer (Cape Town Business Chamber).

As for negotiating deals, he said one has to do your homework well before you enter into a transaction. In this regard he praised current Naspers chair Koos Bekker for the amount of preparation he and his team do before entering a deal.

“I never tried to squeeze the other party too hard. I always used to say ‘let us also leave something for the other side on the table’,” said Vosloo.

When assessing a company’s balance sheets for a potential acquisition, one should look at the track record and most importantly, at the cash situation.

“There is a saying that turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, but cash is reality,” explained Vosloo, adding that, of course not everyone can be successful in the business world.

He related how, when Naspers started M-Net in the 1980s, many people said it would not work in South Africa. Yet, in Vosloo’s opinion, starting M-Net was actually a tipping point for Naspers as it ushered in the move away from print media.

After he was introduced to the concept by Bekker, Vosloo managed to convince the Naspers board to give him R50 000 to start M-Net. He explained that M-Net was constructed in order to help all the daily newspapers in the country. At the start, M-Net focused mainly on movies, but Vosloo suggested opportunities in broadcasting sport should also be investigated.

“One had to have nerves of steel as the so-called hockey stick curve before becoming profitable was to be expected.” Yet he said he is good at handling tension – “it is like water off a duck’s back to me”.

On the other hand, the sale of MTN by Naspers was a different story.

“We had to choose between pushing capital into MTN or into DStv. We did not have enough capital for both and we chose DStv,” said Vosloo. “I like MultiChoice and think it is a wonderful company, but selling MTN was a bit of a mistake,” said Vosloo.

He explained that at the time the important future role of mobile phones in media consumption was not yet clear. At the same time he is happy about the trend of printed books becoming more popular again, even beating sales of e-books.

“From the start Naspers believed in innovation. I always say ‘show me a contented editor or businessperson and I will show you a bad editor or businessperson,” said Vosloo. Naturally, he regards good service as one of the most important cornerstones.

“We grabbed opportunities and due to its digital expansion, Naspers is currently light years further from where it originally started.”

As for corporate social investment, Vosloo said it is important to invest in talent when giving money to a company.


More on Naspers

Naspers to raise R36 billion through share sale

DStv still making good money for Naspers

Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

Connect with Us



Would you buy a Mercedes-Benz bakkie?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

More News

Microsoft Surface Studio desktop PC – transforming how you work


Microsoft has unveiled a new desktop PC that could compete directly against the iMac.

Microsoft unveils its most powerful laptop ever: the Surface Book i7


Microsoft has unveiled an inside-out refresh of the Surface Book laptop.

Cheap Microsoft virtual reality headsets announced


Microsoft has stated that hardware partners will bring affordable virtual reality headsets to the market in 2017.

Windows 10 Creators Update announced

Windows 10 logo

Microsoft has announced the next update for Windows 10, the Creators Update.

Free MyBroadband Newsletter