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All posts by Stephen Timm: Editor

  • Konza City headquarters expected to be completed by December says agency head

    The headquarters for Kenya’s Konza Techno City is just months from completion, Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) CEO Eng John Tanui revealed yesterday. Critics in Kenya have regularly bemoaned the initiative -- which is expected to cost $14.5-billion, take 10 to 20 years to be fully operational and has been dubbed “Silicon Savannah” -- as slow to get off the ground. In an email Tanui told Ventureburn that construction on the nine-storey headquarters is 90% complete and is expected to be completed by December. The building will host the agency's staff and provide office space for anchor tenants, investors and the innovation community. Construction of Konza City's nine-storey...

  • Springleap’s Eran Eyal did not seem like scammer to me – DocuSign founder [Updated]

    UPDATE: Ventureburn had earlier incorrectly reported that Shopin had not yet released a statement in response to Eran Eyal's fraud charges, when it had indeed done so -- on 28 August (see here), announcing that Jennifer Haggerty has been appointed interim CEO.  DocuSign founder Tom Gonser says he's "shocked" that the SA entrepreneur whose $42.5-million Shopin initial coin offering (ICO) he was an adviser to is now facing fraud charges in the US. But Gonser says nothing on the recent ICO seems untoward. The former Springleap founder Eran Eyal (pictured above) was charged with fraud last month relating to allegations that he misrepresented his...

  • Charges against Springleap founder not first time Eran Eyal’s in trouble with law [Updated]

    The latest charges laid against former Springleap founder Eran Eyal are not the first time he has had trouble with the law. Eyal, who currently resides in the Brooklyn in the US, appeared before New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood last Friday. The charges were contained in a statement on Saturday (25 August) by Underwood. Last year a case was lodged against Eyal in a Khar police station in India, by a Mumbai businessman in connection with a $50,000 investment that he alleges was cheated out of him. The case was lodged after a court order from the Bandra magistrate's court. The Times of India in 7 June last...

  • Investor gatvol over losing R8.5m to Springleap through ‘misrepresentation’

    SA business owner and angel investor Duncan Barratt says he lost R8.5-million to Eran Eyal's former company Springleap. Eyal, the former CEO of Springleap, faces fraud charges in the US. Eyal has been charged with allegedly stealing $600,000 from investors by fraudulently soliciting investors to purchase convertible notes through false representations of his company, Springleap. If convicted of the top count charged, he faces up to 15 years in prison. Barratt (pictured above), who is the CEO of Dairy-Best, was a key angel funder behind Springleap and at one time held a 60% stake in the startup before he parted ways with the company in 2012. He is co-operating...

  • Springleap charges: Are claims as world’s 7th most innovative firm a fabrication? [Updated]

    SA entrepreneur and former CEO of Springleap Eran Eyal faces fraud charges in the US, one of the claims he has made is that his former company is the "7th most innovative in the world". Is it really? The charges against Eyal were contained in a statement on Saturday (25 August) by New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood. Eyal has been charged with allegedly stealing $600,000 from investors by fraudulently soliciting investors to purchase convertible notes through false representations of his company, Springleap. If convicted of the top count charged, he faces up to 15 years in prison. A simple internet search by Ventureburn found that at least one of...

  • CoGrammar to make 200 hires in Cape after new funding, reveals SA founder

    Riaz Moola, the founder of UK and SA-based edtech startup CoGrammar, says his startup will hire 200 employees in Cape Town by the end of next year, after closing a funding round earlier this year. Speaking to Ventureburn yesterday while on a short visit to the city, Moola (pictured above) pointed out that the startup expects to hire 50 of the new hires by March next year when it kicks off a recruitment drive on 10 September. The news comes amid a tech boom in Cape Town, with SA bitcoin exchange Luno currently looking to fill 40 new positions for the company’s Cape Town office. Read...

  • Investors use loophole in VC tax incentive to invest in own companies – Sars

    Investors are using a loophole in a SA venture capital (VC) tax incentive to invest in companies connected to them and benefit from a whopping 125% write-off on their taxable income, the SA Revenue Services (Sars) revealed yesterday. The incentive, which falls under Section 12J of the Income Tax Act and came into effect in 2009, entitles investors that invest in accredited VC companies that then invest in small businesses, to make a tax deduction of 125% in the year that the investment was made. Last week saw an outcry from South Africa’s venture capital (VC) and private equity sector over...

  • Kenyan hub Nailab busy identifying African partners for Jack Ma programme

    Kenyan hub Nailab, which has been selected to run Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma's $10-million Africa Netpreneur Prize, is in the process of identifying and selecting  hubs and other collaborative partners from across the continent, Nailab founder Sam Gichuru revealed yesterday. During an event held earlier this month in Johannesburg to launch the initiative, Ma revealed that the Nairobi-based hub would act as the lead continental partner for the programme, which kicks off next year. The programme will award $10-million to 100 African entrepreneurs over the next 10 years. Responding to an email enquiry from Ventureburn, Gichuru (pictured above) said yesterday that his hub, which he founded in 2011, has been playing a consultative role...

  • Google to reveal names of second cohort of Launchpad Accelerator Africa today

    Google set to announce the names today of the startups that will take part in the second cohort of its Launchpad Africa Accelerator. A PR representative for Google South Africa told Ventureburn last Monday (20 August) that the ceremony would be held at 11am SA time (10am Nigerian time) today in Lagos. Google opened applications for the second class of its Launchpad Accelerator Africa programme in June, adding 12 more African countries from which it would accept application from -- to the six that it took applications from in the first class. Applications for closed on 8 July (see this story). Google set to announce the names...

  • State must close door on those that misuse VC tax incentive [Opinion]

    This week saw an outcry from South Africa's venture capital (VC) and private equity sector over amendments the National Treasury plans to make to the country's VC tax incentive, which falls under Section 12 of the Income Tax Act. The SA Venture Capital Association (Savca) told MPs in Parliament that should the National Treasury go ahead with them as they are at present, the amendments risked making the incentive unviable. The amendments contained in the 2018 Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (see the National Treasury's explanatory guide here) include a number of proposals intended to root out misuse of the incentive by investors. The incentive, which came into effect...