The new Shuttleworth

The 28-year-old IT guru is clinching more deals than a Mannenberg drug baron.

Already dubbed the “new Shuttleworth” in IT circles, Lingham is making headlines far and wide in a revitalised software world.

His IncuBeta online marketing company recently attracted a R25- million investment from no less than Shuttleworth himself — via Shuttleworth’s HBD Venture Capital company — and he has started his own venture capital firm, Lingham Capital.

Lingham is the archetypal Internet geek, complete with high- speed attention-span and broadband interpersonal connectivity.

“We’re effectively disintermediating software companies,” Lingham says , building his sentence with two busy hands. “We’re applying global thinking using the Internet as a conduit.”

Lingham’s meteoric rise defies the current Telkom stranglehold on Internet bandwidth and pricing, which, he says, is stifling innovation and preventing a possible IT renaissance.

So what does Lingham do? He specialises in e-marketing and, more recently, website publishing. After working as a techie in Johannesburg for, among others, Johnnic and Dimension Data, he went solo six years ago.

First came IncuBeta, which now owns and manages various online marketing companies, doing everything from search engine optimisation — the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a particular website — to site conversion rate analysis.

But it’s Lingham’s latest venture that has bloggers in a virtual froth: SynthaSite, potentially the “next big thing” on planet Internet because it cleverly taps into the bloggosphere craze exemplified by Facebook.com (25 million users) and MySpace (100 million).

By offering free software and user-friendly instructions, the site allows visitors to create their own website and manage web content, with fees only kicking in for more sophisticated “add-ons” or specialist services.

The SynthaSite website speaks for itself: “Allows you to assemble your website from any PC. No more are your applications and files stuck on the office PC. Ever lost a file? Not with SynthaSite.”

Lingham explains further: “Anyone who wants to create content online or publish a website or a blog, anything online, can come to SynthaSite. Our primary goal is web publishing for everyone.

“If we can tap into one percent of people online then those are big numbers. We’ll only find out when we take the product live to market. This could be the next Thawte,” Lingham says.

He dreams of a Cape Town Silicon Valley at the heart of a massive local IT industry that could remedy SA’s over-reliance on natural resources.

But Lingham says that to succeed SA will need greater Internet bandwidth as soon as possible.

“Innovation is not possible without high bandwidth. Someone on dial-up couldn’t use this software because there would be too much data. This is one of the reasons why innovation is stifled in SA.”

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The new Shuttleworth