This is interesting. WeChat users signed up to microjobbing service M4JAM were on Monday greeted with a message telling them to cash out all the money from their wallets before 31 March.
Update: Hugo has confirmed that the company is set to close if it cannot find a buyer.
The only reason given for the request, is that “M4JAM is in the process of restructuring the business”.
Update: The announcement has also been sent out on Twitter and Facebook:
M4JAM is in the process of restructuring the business. All jobbers: Please cash out the money in your wallet before 31/03/2016.
— Money for Jam (@m4jam) March 14, 2016
When asked if he was willing to comment on the message, which appears to have been rushed out, M4JAM founder Andre Hugo told Ventureburn that he was about to board a plane and would be able to comment tomorrow.
Founded in 2014, following a challenge from ex-FNB CEO Michael Jordaan, the service rapidly became a darling of the South African startup space.
In February 2015, it announced funding from WeChat, something which was designed to allow it to scale up its local and global ambitions.
Later in the year, it appointed Brett Loubser, head of WeChat Africa, and Poshu Yeung, general manager of international business at Tencent — to its board of directors.
It then bought out online research tool Pondering Panda, before launching a couple of new features.
Some within the industry have speculated that the notice signals the end of M4JAM. If that is the case, the decision would have to have been made fairly quickly.
A little under a month ago, Hugo spoke on a panel at the Ecommerce Confex Africa and seemed confident that M4JAM was well on its way to profitability.
It is however worth bearing in mind that internet and media giant Naspers holds a major stake in Tencent, the company behind WeChat (the mobile messaging service works out of Naspers HQ in Cape Town). Naspers itself has a reputation for making major decisions in a very short periods of time, so it wouldn’t be all that surprising if that culture had swept through into the WeChat South Africa.
The service has also been inactive on Twitter in the last couple of weeks, with the last tweet prior to the cash-out announcement coming on 3 March. Its Facebook page has been similarly quiet, with the last ordinary post coming on 4 March.
No announcements have been made on the M4JAM site.
Updates to follow…