A history of Mxit in South Africa

As Mxit shuts its doors, here are key statistics about the once giant South African social network.

Mxit announced on Friday that it is shutting down commercial operations and being taken over The Reach Trust. The Mxit app will still be available as a download but the technology will be used by The Reach Trust in social and education projects in Southern Africa.

Launch

Mxit was launched in 2005 by Namibian born Herman Heunis.

Peak

Mxit peaked at 42 million users across the globe in 2011, according to Herman Heunis. But it recorded 2.7 million monthly active users in South Africa at the end of 2014. The company announced in a statement on Friday that it had plunged to just 1.2 million monthly active users in July 2015 in South Africa.

Three chief executives

Herman Heunis built Mxit into the once dominant social media player in South Africa. Alan Knott-Craig Jnr bought the company and expanded its mobile e-commerce platform and launched a free Wi-Fi programme. He was replaced by Francois Swart who drove international expansion and development for smartphone platforms.

User base is 65% black.

Males make up 59% of its user base. 60% of users are between 18 and 25.

Analysts react

David Luis, former head of Internal Communications at Mxit, told Fin24 that it would be difficult for a South African startup to build a compelling application, but content would likely be a key driver.

“The next winner in the local market is going to be an app that delivers shareable entertaining content, that allows users to create and share that content themselves. Users are no longer mere content viewers – they are content producers, and the success of apps like Vine,Instagram and DubSmash bear this out,” said Luis.

Arthur Goldstuck, head of World Wide Worx, also said that local startups need to be aware of international competition.

“We do have the potential to compete but we also have to keep the eyes wide open, and when we do succeed we’ve got to avoid arrogance and complacency,” Goldstuck told Fin24.

Fin24

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A history of Mxit in South Africa