Many local Internet professionals had decided in 2010 to take the leap from a steady corporate income to start their own online businesses.
These new businesses are typically in the online marketing and new media space, complimenting the skill sets of the people involved.
Here is a rundown of some of the high profile Internet start-ups lead by online professionals in South Africa in 2010.
Colin Daniels started his career as an academic at Rhodes University in the new media space, but moved to Avusa to boost their online presence. Colin quickly moved through the ranks, and became publisher of The Times Online (South Africa) and also founded and managed Avusa’s first commercial digital innovation unit (Avusa iLab).
Daniels left Avusa to become the Head of Digital for the South African division of the Trader Media Group. Daniels left the Trader Media Group to focus on his MBA, but also founded More Than Media, “a small digital agency that has a wealth of experience in helping brands and businesses make a big impact online.”
Gregor Rohrig joined Avusa at more or less the same time as Daniels, starting off as a new media specialist under Daniels. He later acted as publisher of Times LIVE at Avusa and became Head of Digital Innovation at Avusa, but left the publishing house to start an online agency called ‘Social Code.’
Social Code offers social media, mobile and development services. The company currently has over 90 clients, including the likes of Hyundai, Remgro, Vodacom, Naspers and Distell.
Justin Hartman also joined Avusa under Daniels as a ‘digital innovation manager’ but left the company in 2008 when MIH invested in his blogging aggregator service Afrigator. Hartman recently bought back his shares from MIH, and continues to head up Afrigator and the spin off advertising division Adgator.
Hartman also co-founded the Social Code online agency with Rohrig, and currently acts as CEO of the company which employs 11 staff members.
Matthew Buckland is well known in the South African Internet market, having headed up the Mail & Guardian online for many years. Buckland left MG Online to join 24.com as GM of Publishing, where he also founded and heads the innovation startup 20FourLabs.
In 2009, Buckland left the corporate world to run his web agency and consultancy Creative Spark full time as CEO and also started the new media website site Memeburn.
Vincent Maher has a long history in the local online environment. He served as multimedia director at VWV Interactive, was managing director at Digital Commerce, acted as director of the New Media Lab at Rhodes University’s School of Journalism & Media Studies, and later as a strategist at the Mail & Guardian Online under Matthew Buckland.
Maher left the MG Online in 2008 to join Vodacom as the portfolio manager of Vodacom Internet Services and as commercial manager of mobile advertising. Maher left Vodacom in mid-2010 to start Motribe – a mobile social networking platform based in Cape Town, South Africa.
Nic Haralambous is a journalist with close links with Maher. He worked as head of the mobile division at Mail & Guardian Online with Maher, and after a short stint as GM of Zoopy Gauteng, he again joined Maher at Vodacom as Product Manager of Vodacom SA’s mobile social networking division.
Haralambous left Vodacom with Maher to become the co-founder of Motribe, and currently acts as head of Operations and Business development at the start-up.
Andy Hadfield has been involved in the online space for many years, and previously served as Managing Director of gal.co.za and COO at The Virtual Works. Hadfield is most likely best known for his role of digital strategist at First National Bank, but left the financial institution September 2010 to start One Big Widget.
One Big Widget is a boutique strategy firm and digital advisory for corporate clients, and Hadfield currently acts as CEO of the company.
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