Musical chairs in local Internet market

The local online market is showing strong growth, and media companies are starting to wake up to the fact that they must have a strong online and mobile presence to survive in the fast changing media space.

The fact that the South African online media environment is relatively young means that it is not easy to find high level skills in the area of developing and executing a successful online strategy.  It is therefore not surprising that there is a lot of head-hunting going on between the large media houses and other online businesses.

There have been numerous high profile moves recently, with Naspers’ 24.com, Avusa, Mail & Guardian and Vodacom all stocking up on talented individuals in the Internet and mobile arena.

High profile moves

Colin Daniels, publisher at the Times Online, recently left Avusa to join the Auto Trader group to run their digital business.  Daniels was largely responsible for Avusa’s online strategy and the revamp of many of their websites.

Daniels will be replaced by Elan Lohmann who has been appointed as General Manager: Online.  Lohmann started his career at Avusa where he managed the Sunday Times’ online unit from 2002 – 2005. Since then he has been at News24.com as Publisher as well as being responsible for running several other 24.com businesses.  Lohmann will join Avusa in August.

The Mail & Guardian has also decided to head hunt talent from the 24.com stable.  24.com editor-in-chief Chris Roper is on his way to the Mail & Guardian as editor in charge of digital media products.  Roper will take up his new position in August.

It isn’t one-way traffic regarding Naspers’ online staff, they too are acquiring skilled staff within the industry.  In Mid-2008 24.com recruited previous GM at Mail & Guardian Online Matthew Buckland to head up their new media division and the newly formed 20FourLabs.

Naspers also bagged Justin Hartman through an acquisition of Afrigator by MIH Print Africa – a subsidiary of Naspers – in September 2008.  Before the move to Naspers Hartman was Digital Innovation Manager of Avusa’s online and mobile excellence unit known as the iLab.

Gregor Rohrig has now taken over from Hartman as Manager of the Avusa iLab. His responsibilities include driving innovation and digital strategy for Avusa Media’s online products as well as managing and overseeing these developments.

Buckland’s right hand man at the Mail & Guardian Online, Vincent Maher, was scooped up by Vodacom in mid-2008 where he is now the portfolio manager for social media.  Nic Haralambous, another previous Mail & Guardian Online employee, joined Maher’s team at Vodacom in June as a project manager for social media.

The eagerness for companies to invest in their Internet and mobile skills bodes well for IT professionals, online media specialists and mobile experts who will most likely see higher salaries due to a skills demand.

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Musical chairs in local Internet market