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      Tech-savvy insight and analysis
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      Incisive reviews for the gadget obsessed
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  • The startling rise of Groupon, and predictions of the fall [Infographic]

    Groupon and the collective-buying model that it spawned is the darling of social web. The company began in the United States in 2008 and has grown rapidly to include 38 different territories, all offering the basic deal-of-the-day model to more than 35-million registered users. It gained instant fame when it declined a purchase offer of US$6-billion from Google. In case you still don't know, Groupon's business model works like this: You reserve your deal by clicking the “Buy Now” button and entering your credit card details. Once the required number of people have signed up to the daily offer, the deal...

  • Company Office

    Tshwane free Wi-Fi TV – TV by the people, for the people, on the people's network

    The City of Tshwane has added another trailblazing project to its name with the launch of the WiFi TV, a Video-On-Demand service made available over the Tshwane Free WiFi network. The WiFi TV is another pioneering project geared towards positioning Tshwane as a Smart City by using technology to bridge the digital divide, engage communities on government affairs and bring about social cohesion.  Local crews have been recruited and trained to create videos covering local topics including music, current affairs, entrepreneurship, religion, jobs and sport in the townships of Mamelodi, Soshanguve, Atteridgeville and the Tshwane CBD. These videos are then uploaded...

  • Prominent SA startup FireID hits the skids

    FireID, a Stellenbosch-based startup specialising in mobile authentication, will probably be forced to close its doors or dramatically downscale after news that its main investor has pulled its funding. The main source of funding was via the Luxembourg-based Reinet Fund S.C.A., run by billionaire Johann Rupert, who invested in the company through Cape Town VC 4DiCapital. The company employs just under 40 people. Justin Stanford, who runs 4DiCapital, told Memeburn on Wednesday night that Reinet's refusal to renew the funding "came as a surprise". "It's been an emotional day... We were confident of a renewal due to FireID's revenue," he said. Stanford...

  • Groupon moves into South Africa, India, Israel via new acquisitions

    Groupon, the famous collective online buying phenomenon, has announced the launch of Groupon India, Groupon Israel and Groupon South Africa via acquisitions of similar daily-deal sites in those countries, namely SoSasta, Grouper, and Twangoo. Using the principles of collective buying, Groupon negotiates discounts with businesses and shares them with subscribers via free daily emails. The deals are activated only when a minimum number of people agree to buy, encouraging subscribers to share the promotion with family and friends. By guaranteeing a large number of new customers, Groupon has created a marketing vehicle for local merchants in thousands of cities...

  • Mobilitate: A social media platform that takes on government

    Social media has become the proverbial soap-box for causes, issues and many things that need a voice. Social media campaigns spear-headed by individuals often lose momentum because they fail to mobilise people. The power of platforms like Facebook, Twitter and blogs lie in the fact that they empower individuals to publish, influence and make a cause known. But that's the ideal world. The reality is that the impact most individuals can make on a regular basis is limited, fragmented and not coordinated. Enter Mobilitate -- a platform that allows an individual to coordinate a response using various social media tools to...

  • Facebook IPO: ‘Suddenly it feels like 1999’

    The high valuation of Facebook on secondary share markets might be out of line with its revenues but it does show one thing: A large investor appetite for investing in leading Silicon Valley companies. The fact that the investors are making large bets without having access to the underlying financial information is similar to the wild days of the dotcom boom, when companies were able to IPO on the basis of very little proven financial information. Investors were happy to pay high multiples for a stake in a business that might have a bright future. The comparison between now and the...

  • Insights from a VC: Social networks overdone, but storage is hot

    I spoke with Bob Ackerman, managing director of US-based Allegis Capital and a veteran Silicon Valley venture capitalist about some of the trends and issues in VC. Here are some of his insights on the key issues: - Cloud will be big this year and a big buzzword and that worries me because there will likely be too many companies funded that shouldn't be. - Storage is another hot area simply because of the massive amount of data being created daily and the need to make it available online and searchable. - Social networks are overdone and over invested. There have been too...

  • TrustFabric: One startup’s solution to call centre hell

    Pretty much everyone hates calling a call centre. They keep you on hold perpetually and when you finally get past the annoying repetition of bad eighties music and speak to a human being they have no idea how to help. So begins the "departmental bounce" and after you run the gauntlet of incompetence, running up a colossal phone bill, the call is ended without any real help being delivered. The days of the call centre gauntlet are apparently over according to a new Cape Town-based startup TrustFabric.com. The company claims to offer a service to individuals and businesses to...

  • So retailers are now media companies… but is that a good thing?

    The retailer is now a publisher. And we see retailers rolling out multi-channel networks filled with original editorial content spanning everything from how-to videos and gift guides to new-technology primers and behind-the-scenes looks at popular movies. As Natalie Zmuda, writes on Ad Age: "The press corps at this year's Consumer Electronics Show may find themselves jostling for soundbytes and product demos on the Vegas strip with video crews from Best Buy. "Execs say the intent is to be complementary to, not competitive with, publications like CNet, Engadget or Gizmodo, which cover consumer electronics. But while Best Buy says it's not looking...

  • Five red-hot Indian tech startups

    China’s enormous internet population has been getting quite a bit of press lately, but India is undoubtedly as much of an emerging world internet power. With more than 400-million internet users China’s online success stories, like QQ and Baidu, make even Facebook’s numbers look average. But India’s open economy, its high percentage of English speakers and its highly educated new caste of IT whizz kids make it a perfect breeding ground for tech entrepreneurs. Here are five of the most interesting startups to watch: Voicetap Founded: March 2009 Homebase: New Delhi Elevator pitch: Voicetap connects people in need of advice with genuine experts on every...

  • Groupon raises $500m

    Internet sensation Groupon, which specialises in dishing out local bargains, says it has raised $500-million, just weeks after rejecting a multi-billion-dollar takeover bid by Google. The mega-financing, revealed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), was part of a funding round launched on December 17 that could fetch up to $950-million dollars. Google was believed to have offered more than five billion dollars to buy up the online discount shopping site early this month, but Groupon decided to remain independent. The Chicago-based startup is also considering an initial public offering to issue common stock or shares for the first time as part...