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  • Diaspora scores on privacy but will it ever go mainstream?

    Diaspora, the open source social network that puts user privacy above all else, is now rolling out in private alpha. The question is: can it hold its own against Facebook, or MySpace, or even Ning?  Early indications seem to indicate that the answer is no. Although Facebook has run into backlash several times over its approach to users’ information, it continues to grow like gangbusters, surpassing more than 550-million unique users in October, according to ComScore. Clearly, privacy concerns are something plenty of people pay lip service to, but rarely do anything about.  If Diaspora is to succeed, it will need...

  • Company Office

    Merchant solutions could be the answer to mobile money’s last mile issue

    The mobile money agency system has made huge progress in increasing access to financial services and reducing the cost of transactions, though in terms of serving the “last mile” - those wishing to make single dollar transactions - there is still much to be done. But the answer may be staring us in the face. In disrupting the traditional financial system, with its reliance on formal tellers and ATMs, mobile money and its agency model have taken off across Africa. According to Frost & Sullivan, the value of mobile money transactions in Sub-Saharan Africa reached USD 656 million in 2014,...

  • Google’s Groupon deal makes no sense

    Faith Merino at VatorNews reported on Monday that Google had purchased Groupon for $2.5 billion: "... according to an unnamed insider who spoke with VatorNews. Neither Google nor Groupon could be reached for comment to confirm the report, but Vator's source is reliable and the report falls in line with the recent string of Groupon acquisition rumours." On Tuesday Kara Swisher at All Things D reported that her sources said that Google would pay $5.3 billion plus a $700 million earnout if Groupon meets sales targets. "... it is a killer move for Google-despite the high price-given it has long tried to...

  • What a startup can learn from a restaurant menu

    It's often said that one of the biggest challenges for an entrepreneur is focus. Naturally, this is coupled with multiple challenges like cash flow, growth management, and your general sanity. It's also said that the great thing about being an entrepreneur is the freedom that comes with it. However, that freedom is largely illusionary unless you are running a lifestyle company or you've hit the megabucks early. Most entrepreneurs find themselves shackled by other responsibilities: Responsibility for the talent in the organisation, strategic direction of the company, trying to build more with less, the demanding pace of the new startup...

  • Evly.com first look: Will this new crowdsourcing social network work?

    Sometimes it just so happens that a new technology service really speaks to you. The first time I saw Groupon, I thought that it was one of the most compelling services seen in quite some time. Clearly I was not the only one. Google is rumoured to have made an offer to acquire Groupon for US$3-billion. My first look at Evly however did not elicit quite the same initial reaction. The crowdsourcing social network had a soft launch this month. Its founder, Eran Eyal, of Springleap fame, touted their efforts as cutting-edge and having the potential to revolutionise the internet. Based...

  • Salesforce.com in major expansion drive

    Salesforce.com has been on a tear this year with financial results exceeding Wall Street estimates; a massive expansion of its headquarters in San Francisco; a gift of $100 million to build a Children's hospital; and now: luring JP Rangaswami, Chief Scientist at UK Telecom giant BT to assume the same position at Salesforce. Larry Dignan, writing at ZDNet, reports: "...Rangaswami will contribute to the company's product strategy and be an evangelist for cloud computing around the globe. Rangaswami will focus on European customers and preaching real-time collaboration." In a statement, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said Rangaswami has "the...

  • Developing a great idea into a business

    Being able to make something doesn’t mean you’re an entrepreneur, being able to make a business out of it does. I’ve met many great developers across Africa, some who would be considered "top of the class" in any country in the world. Unfortunately, some confuse starting a company for running a business. It’s easy to get a legal entity, a company name and even a prototype out into the market. It’s hard to earn money off of that idea, even enough to make it self-sustaining, much less profitable. I can think of a couple reasons why this might be. Sometimes I...

  • Can entrepreneurship be taught?

    For decades, entrepreneurship has been viewed as something risky and mysterious that only a few lucky mavericks could master. This perception has been fuelled by a public reverence for successful individuals, who seem to have had no formal training to which their entrepreneurial success could be attributed. Some educational institutions have also shunned or quashed entrepreneurship as a non-discipline, something unteachable and incongruous with traditional discipline-based courses. Whilst the significance of entrepreneurship for a country’s economy is rarely disputed, the much-debated question is whether entrepreneurship is an elusive and exclusive "talent" that is inherent in some, or whether it can...

  • Four things large companies can learn from startups

    Any startup company is agile by design and necessity. There are certain characteristics of a startup that make an agile approach come naturally, and allows startups to achieve far more in a month than some larger companies do in a quarter. Paying attention to these key principles, one can encourage the startup approach in larger organisations - not just in the design and development teams, but beyond to all areas of the business. As a disclaimer, let me say upfront: this is not a technical discussion. It’s not about how to implement a specific Agile methodology, but more about finding...

  • SA startup selected as one of Techcrunch’s ‘Best New Startups’

    The TechCrunch Europas, the European Startup Awards for tech companies, has listed Cognician, a South African technology startup, as one of the top 11 Best New Startup's in 2010. The Europas serve to honour the best technology companies and startups across the web and mobile space. The awards span 22 categories and recognise and celebrate the most compelling technology startups, internet and mobile innovations of the past year. Cognician, the original thought processor that presents content in the form of provocative questions, helps users to apply the author's ideas to their own tasks, so that they can think better, further and...

  • Evly.com: The art of outsourcing crowdsourcing

    Evly.com claims to be the "world's first crowdsourcing social network" and launches next Monday with the goal of bringing users together to "solve new challenges". The site is the brainchild of the team who developed Springleap, a Cape Town-based T-shirt design crowdsourcing company, based on threadless.com, which has carved out a remarkable niche on the web. Crowdsourcing is the method of sourcing a solution from a crowd, community or social network as opposed to a single contractor with the understanding that the wisdom of the crowd is greater than the wisdom of the individual. As an example South African snack-food...