Since being acquired by Mxit, mobile social network builder Motribe has seen a staff exodus reducing a once 10-strong staff to four people, with only one person working out of the Motribe offices.
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Mxit inked a deal to purchase Motribe late last year after a long working relationship that incorporated most of Motribe’s staff.
One of the first members of staff to leave the company after the acquisition was co-founder and former CEO Nic Haralambous who says the reasons for the exodus aren’t clear.
“I can’t really say what motivated their departure from the company post-acquisition. I do know that they joined Motribe to work with smart and talented people at a startup. And that they enjoyed the work environment we provided them at Motribe.”
Mxit admits that there have been some staff losses but that the remaining team members have been fully integrated into the company.
“There has been some attrition since the acquisition,” says Mxit. “Four key individuals are now fully integrated into Mxit. Vincent Maher is the CMO, Bradley Whittington is product lead on Mxit Launch, Mark Griffioen is VP: financial services and Natalie Govender is the community support specialist.”
Kyle Redelinghuys, who left the company earlier this year, says he left for “logistical reasons”. The developer says that he felt the “office was getting smaller.” Notes Redelinghuys, “other people who I enjoyed working with left, we were headed to working in Stellenbosch, and then I was offered a better opportunity.”
Maher argues that though the company has lost some people it also “added some new blood in the form of a designer. Yes the team isn’t what used be but we get very focused on the community.”
According to the terms of the deal, all existing Motribe contracts were to be seen to completion before the teams were refocused on Mxit projects. There have been some claims that this has not been the case.
“I don’t know what Motribe was ‘forced’ into. But I can verify that some of the clients have contacted me asking about support. I put them back in touch with the relevant people at Mxit/Motribe. I was told explicitly by Mxit that all Motribe contracts would be honoured,” says Haralambous.
He says he cannot confirm whether or not Mxit has honoured those contracts, but notes: “I was led to believe that all my agreements and contracts would remain in place”.
According to Mxit the claims are wrong.
“Some contracts ended naturally as the campaigns and projects came to an end. The biggest shift since the acquisition is that Motribe no longer offers custom mobile development — it focuses on building communities on Mxit. Where customers specifically need custom development, the team has supported the clients in migrating to other suppliers and assisted in a hand over. There are several contracts still running and these clients will be migrated onto the Mxit platform by June 2013.”
According to Maher there some complexities with the contracts that weren’t “really planned out”.
“Though campaigns have run out the sites are still there and we need to decide what happens with that. We are busy talking about this now,” he adds.
Mxit believes that the deal has been quite successful and the remaining Motribe team members have been “invaluable” to the company.
“Motribe’s experience in building communities in Africa was a key driver for the acquisition. This IP is being spread throughout the business and forming part of many strategic conversations from the design of Mxit 7 to the growth strategy for Mxit in the rest of Africa. On a more practical level, the technical development at Motribe has evolved into Mxit Launch, Mxit’s community builder tool currently in beta.”
Ventureburn can however confirm that Mxit is reviewing the lease on Motribe’s Cape Town offices and will decide whether or not to renew it in mid 2013.