African tech startup community pays tribute to Matthew Buckland

Members of the African tech startup community have paid tribute to Burn Media Group and Ventureburn founder Matthew Buckland who passed away yesterday (23 April).

Buckland founded the Burn Media Group — which includes Memeburn, Ventureburn, Gearburn, Motorburn and Jobsburn — in 2010 with Mich Atagana as founding editor.

In 2013 Buckland was a committee member of non-profit tech initiative Silicon Cape. Buckland, who was also a mentor at Endeavor SA, also sat on the advisory board of home cleaning startup SweepSouth.

At the time of his death, Buckland was also an entrepreneur in residence at the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF).

Buckland — or Matt as he was fondly known — also penned a number of articles for Ventureburn, his last being an opinion piece on ecommerce firm Jumia (see this story).

Buckland founded the Burn Media Group in 2010 and regularly wrote opinion articles for Ventureburn

Indelible impact

Atagana, who is now head of communications and public affairs at Google SA, wrote in a post on Twitter yesterday; “oh @matthewbuckland. Who will I discuss IPOs and startups valuations with now? No more calls to ask me to come back to @memeburn and jokes of how its all grown up now. I will miss you terribly my friend. Rest now. 💔 #RIPMatthewBuckland”

Speaking during a phone call earlier today, Atagana said Buckland’s impact on the African tech startup community is indelible.

“He helped people understand just how important Africa was in the tech space,” she said.

Always humble

Knife Capital co-founder and partner Keet Van Zyl said in an email yesterday that Buckland will leave a huge gap in the African entrepreneurial ecosystem as a successful digital media entrepreneur, angel investor and startup advocate.

“(He was) always humble about his achievements. Eager to listen, consider and air various viewpoints to shape his content.

“He was one of our early investors in the Knife Capital Section 12J VC Fund,  KNF Ventures and was active in referring deals and giving portfolio inputs. Sincere condolences to everyone close to him,” said Van Zyl.

Startup Grind vice president global community Guillaume De Smedt said in an email today (24 April) that he came across Buckland in person for the first time when he was speaking at a WordCamp event a few years ago.

“Over the years we worked more closely with him and he was a great supporter of the startup ecosystem in general. Matt and Ventureburn were also a valued partner of Startup Grind over the years and we really appreciated that. I was very sad to hear about Matt’s passing.

“We would like to offer our condolences to all those that were close to him as Matt leaves a lasting legacy behind him,” said De Smedt.

Inspiring individual

In an email to Ventureburn today, Silicon Cape chairperson Sumarie Roodt said the loss of such a formidable and inspiring individual is a profound one not only for the tech innovation ecosystem in Cape Town, but for all of the innovation ecosystems on the continent that “he loved so much”.

“Matthew was — as Einstein said of himself — ‘passionately curious’ and it was that character trait that enabled and drove him to foster and nurture necessary dialogues about the benefits and challenges of creating startups, amongst others.

“A keen philanthropist, Matthew gave of his time, wisdom and energy selflessly to the Silicon Cape Initiative for a number of years and was always personally vested in establishing the Cape as a top innovation hub in the world. Thank you Matthew, you will always be remembered, and sorely missed,” said Roodt.

‘Candid on success, failures’

SweepSouth co-founder and CEO Aisha Pandor explained in an email today how Buckland had advised the startup on growth and marketing via Endeavor.

“Matthew was really candid about sharing based on his own successes and failures, and Alen and I enjoyed his frank nature, principled stance, and how as an advisor, he gave thoughtful insights that forced us to think creatively.

“He spoke really fondly about his family, and more recently about being able to spend more time with them and enjoy his hobbies.

“It’s especially shocking to hear of his passing since he’d still been writing so actively, recently sharing articles about how tech was improving South Africa’s informal sector, and another about the positive effects that Jumia’s IPO would have on the African tech ecosystem,” said Pandor.

“As a pioneer of digital media not just in SA but on the continent, he was a true advocate of the power of tech and startups, and not only will we miss him personally, but his passing leaves a huge gap in the industry as a whole,” she added.

Meanwhile, SA venture capitalist Michael Jordaan wrote in a post on Twitter yesterday, “Last week I read the yet unpublished book by @matthewbuckland who had asked me for a review and in the final pages I read about his illness. Today I’m even more shocked to hear that he has passed on. RIP”

Silicon Valley based SA entrepreneur Vinny Lingham wrote on Twitter yesterday: “A very sad day for me and the whole SA startup scene. @matthewbuckland was one of the nicest people I have ever met and a good friend…#RIPMatthewBuckland”.

Brett Commaille, the founder of AngelHub Ventures, said in a tweet yesterday: “Shocked by the news, still hard to believe it could be. Far too young. Truly sad”.

Buckland, said Endeavor SA yesterday in a tweet, was a “digital pioneer, father, husband, mentor, and businessman”. “We celebrate his life, his role in Endeavor as a Mentor, and the legacy he left. We are honoured to have had the opportunity for more than 5 years, to work alongside Matthew. #RIPMatthewBuckland”.

Cognician co-founder Patrick Kayton said in a tweet earlier today he was very sad to hear of Buckland’s passing. “He was a long time advisor to @cognician who gave generously of his time and insight. A great loss to the SA business world. My heart goes out to his family. #RIPMatthewBuckland

African Business Angel Network president and Lagos Angel Network founder Tomi Davies said in a tweet yesterday,”May Matt’s soul rest in perfect peace! Africa has lost an asset!”

SA startup advisor and HYBR Group partner Vuyisa Qabaka wrote in a post on Twitter yesterday: “Just hearing the news of the passing of Matt… incredibly and heart broken. We’ve lost a giant of our industry. We will cherish his invaluable contribution for many years. Condolences to his wife and family. #RIPMatthewBuckland

VC4A founder, director and CEO Ben White wrote on Twitter yesterday that he was very sorry to hear the news of Buckland’s passing and to have lost another dear colleague in our industry.

“What a tragic loss for the startup community and our colleagues at @Ventureburn. Very sorry for your loss. The great work Matthew did promoting the industry – a champion of the African startup!” wrote White in another post on Twitter.

Online digital talk show Quintessential ZA posted a tweet of a video of Buckland sharing his journey to his first startup.

“We were privileged enough to sit down for a mentorship chat with @matthewbuckland thanks to @mdiforg. He gave the best advice a small digital startup could ask for…by telling his own story. He was a risk taker. A pioneer. We are shocked to hear of his passing. Rest in peace.”

BRCK CEO and iHub Nairobi founder Erik Hersman said in a post on Twitter yesterday,”What a loss. A part of that small gang of us blogging back in the early 2000’s and someone who could think, speak and build things. #ripmatthewbuckland”.

Cameroonian tech entrepreneur Rebecca Enonchong described the news of Buckland’s passing as heartbreaking, in a tweet yesterday in which she offered condolences to his family and colleagues.

Disrupt Africa founder Tom Jackson said in a tweet yesterday,”Shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of @matthewbuckland. Always a top, top guy and did a lot for the South African media/tech space. Thoughts with his family”.

MyRunner founder and CEO Zimbabwean Vusumuzi Mkhwanazi said of Buckland in a post on Twitter yesterday,” Truth is his work touched beyond SA. His publications did a lot for the Startup ecosystem in Africa. #RIPMatthewBuckland”.

Buckland is survived by his wife and two daughters.

A memorial will be held for Matt on Tuesday 30 April at 10am at the Cape Point Vineyards in Noordhooek, Cape Town. All are welcome to attend.

Read more: Mentor, friend, visionary: Tributes pour in for the late Matthew Buckland
Read more: Matthew Buckland, an SA media industry giant and our dear founder, has died

Daniel Mpala


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