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  • Online chess play scoops $1.25m in funding

    ChessCube has concluded a US$1.25m funding agreement with Venture Capital fund, InVenFin (Pty) Ltd. InVenFin, the VC-focused subsidiary of VenFin Limited, invests in intellectual property-based start-ups with global potential. This transaction brings ChessCube’s total funding to date to US$1.8m. ChessCube is an online chess site, which allows players of all skill levels to compete and learn chess, while socializing with others. With a potential market of over fifty million active chess players in the world, ChessCube.com has already attracted over 650,000 registered users across 207 countries -- making it one of the leaders in the growing online chess market. Mark Levitt,...

  • Company Office

    AlphaCode makes fourth investment, in Luno an international bitcoin platform

    South African bitcoin trading platform Luno today (19 September 2017) announced its expansion into 35 new markets across Europe, and the conclusion of a R120-million Series B funding round, led by London-based Balderton Capital, one of Europe’s leading venture capital firms. Rand Merchant Investments, through its fintech investment arm, AlphaCode, and existing investors Digital Currency Group also participated in the round. This follows Luno’s R60m Series A round, which was led by emerging market tech giant Naspers. To date, AlphaCode has invested in Prodigy Finance (August 2017), Entersekt (June 2017) and Merchant Capital (June 2016). Luno is one of the world’s most popular Bitcoin platforms, making it easy for people to buy, sell and learn about digital...

  • Survey claims 80% of SA users shop online

    A survey by Master Card claims that 80% of South African users are shopping online. CDs, DVDs and VCDs” emerged as the most sought after item category, with 58% of online shoppers saying that they frequently shopped for these items online. “Airline tickets” and “books and arts” emerged as the next most sought after items, with 45% of online shoppers saying that they had frequently shopped for these items in the three months prior to when the survey was conducted. These are some of the primary findings of a survey commissioned by MasterCard Worldwide on online shopping behaviour, the results of which...

  • SA bank claims 1-million mobile phone banking users

    Absa, the country's largest retail bank, says it's one of the first banks in the world to notch up a million cellphone banking customers, prompting it to call "2009 the year for Cellphone Banking". It was the first South African bank to introduce Cellphone Banking services in the year 2000. Absa says that over the last few years there has been a surge in uptake, with up to 5000 new clients registering for Cellphone Banking each day. Absa says: “From observing the registration and usage numbers, 2009 will be the year in which Cellphone Banking develops serious traction in the market such...

  • Sequoia Capital on startups and the economic downturn

    This presentation from famous Silicon Valley Venture Capital firm, Sequoia Capital, is a must-see. It explains the effects of the economic downturn on venture capital and internet startups. The news obviously isn't good, as investors will shun typically risky online startups, unless they are entities that can turn faster, if not immediate, profits. There’s quite a bit of information on what went wrong in the economy, why the recovery is going to take some time, and what startups can do to survive. Sequoia reckon that startups without at least a year's worth of cash in the bank are in trouble....

  • Internet Solutions to create new VC fund for web innovation?

    It looks like Internet Solutions (IS) may be creating some kind of incubator or venture capital fund to encourage local web innovation and startups. The details are sketchy at this stage, but it in fact looks like the new initiative will launch as soon as this month, possibly middle of the month, with the launch of their website. I've been promised further clarity on the new venture in the coming weeks. I am guessing there is some Ronnie Apteker influence in this, as Ronnie has been travelling the world lately looking at new online ventures to invest in. Apteker was...

  • Venture Capital: The lies people tell

    Got this from a presentation by David Murray of Cape Venture Partners, a Venture Capital fund which has invested in quite a few successful businesses. Was alerted by a comment about 10 seconds after I posted this (literally) that it was originally adapted from Guy Kawasaki, here and here. So duly credited. Top ten lies entrepreneurs tell 1. “Our market is $X billion” 2. “We won’t need a second round of financing” 3. “A large contract with BigCo is signing next week” 4. “If we sell less than 50% of the company we still have control” 5. “All our estimates are very conservative” 6. “We...

  • SA aggregator cracks CNN mention

    This is killer. CNN.com mentioned Afrigator as a hot web 2.0 startup. Afrigator is the Africa-focused blog aggregator by Justin Hartman and Mike Stopforth. Nice. Very nice guys. Just noticed that my evil twin, who called me about it on the way back from work, also blogged about it here. This is the second time an SA Web 2.0 project has cracked a mention. Neville Newey's muti, a local Digg, was also recognised by CNN some time ago. Nice to see these cool, local projects on the world map.

  • New launch: Easy web publishing via Synthasite

    Well, well, well. The boys and girls from Incubeta -- the PPC marketing company -- have been busy. They've launched Synthasite. I'm a bit late on this, but hey I was down in Cape Town for the World Association of Papyrus and it kept me busy. Synthasite has already got some good reviews from a couple of major sites around the world, including Mashable and Read/Write web. (The Vinny marketing machine has clicked into gear). It's great to see more innovation from this South African web company. They say that "Synthasite is about revolutionising Web Publishing" and that Synthasite is...

  • 15 Startup Commandments

    Found this a good read, especially in the context of creating Amatomu.com. Got it off a Facebook group. The commandments 1. Your idea isn't new. Pick an idea; at least 50 other people have thought of it. Get over your stunning brilliance and realize that execution matters more. 2. Stealth startups suck. You're not working on the Manhattan Project, Einstein. Get something out as quickly as possible and promote the hell out of it. 3. If you don't have scaling problems, you're not growing fast enough. 4. If you're successful, people will try to take advantage of you. Hope that you're in that position,...

  • Scoop: New “Web 2.0” recruitment site launches in South Africa

    Here's a scoop for ya. I've just been alerted to what looks like a new and pretty serious "Web 2.0" entrant in the South African web market. www.employmint.co.za, the site owner claims, is a web 2.0 recruitment site "packed full of all the Web 2.0 goodness you can think of including mashups with Microsoft Virtual Earth, user generated content, AJAX / Atlas interface and more...". The way it works is quite novel. It works via a referral system. All jobs posted offer a cash reward to anyone who refers a friend for a job and is successfully placed....