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Vinny Lingham, Koos Bekker, Matt Mullenweg. These are just three big tech and advertising personalities that the late Matthew Buckland mentions in his new book So You Want to Build a Startup?
The book was launched last Friday (26 July) by publishers Tafelberg and is available in all major book stores, as well as from various online stores (see this story).
Here then are five tech and advertising personalities mentioned by Buckland in his book:
SA entrepreneur and now Shark Tank presenter Vinny Lingham helped Buckland out with office space.
Back when Buckland started Creative Spark in 2010, Lingham was running Yola, a free website-building site, that he founded.
Writes Buckland: “Vinny was a larger-than-life character, full of positive energy and big dreams. Every time I interacted with him, I would walk away feeling 30% more energised. He was also one of my inspirations for leaving sheltered employment and plotting my own course.”
When he worked at Naspers’s News24, Buckland brazenly against the advice of his colleagues, emailed the company’s head Koos Bekker after finding his email address in a group email and asked for a meeting to discuss ideas he had to improve the company.
Bekker was known for getting personally involved in firing staff, so Buckland knew he was taking a chance. But Bekker immediately responded, inviting him up to his 14th-floor lair.
“I was struck by how casually he was dressed. He wore jeans and a slightly raggedy t-shirt visible under a pastel-blue collared shirt. Maybe it was a Friday thing, or maybe he was dressing like an internet person now,” writes Buckland.
Entrepreneur Nic Haralambous, whose crypto investing platform Coindirect in February netted €1-million in funding (see this story), worked with Buckland in Mail & Guardian — before they both later started their own businesses.
Buckland was Haralambous’s manager and flew into a fit of anger when he was told Haralambous would be leaving the publication barely six months after joining the company. Later Haralambous would describe in his own book Do.Fail.Learn. Repeat how Buckland had “laid” into him “like I’d never experienced before or since”.
Writes Buckland: “As a young manager, I didn’t take resignations well: I was so vested in the work we were doing that I saw them as a sign of personal rejection. In Nic’s case, however, I was particularly outraged and felt it was unethical that he had started negotiating with a supplier I had put him in touch with to serve the interests of Mail & Guardian.”
Buckland would host regular “Thought Leader Fridays” at Creative Spark, where experts were invited to talk to staff about current trends and innovations in the industry. One of these was American Matt Mullenweg who together with Mike Little started WordPress.
Writes Buckland: “One of the pinnacles for us (Creative Spark — Ed) was when Matt Mullenweg, a genuine celebrity in tech and developer circles, came to chat to us. The creator of WordPress, the world’s largest open-source CMS, Matt was named by Time magazine as one of the ’30 people under 30 changing the world’. Afterwards a little shrine was created by one of the developers in the chair where he sat: a sign noting, ‘Matt Mullenweg sat here’.”
After entertaining several acquisition offers the right one finally came along, from global advertising giant M&C Saatchi, and Buckland in 2015 was soon celebrating a multi-million rand acquisition with the owner of M&C Saatchi’s SA entity, Mike Abel.
But Buckland soon felt sidelined, especially after many of his staff left for M&C Saatchi. Those that remained were often made fun of by the new buyers as digital nerds. Creative Spark was hit with central costs from head office and his CFO was awarded a raise that put him on the same pay level as Buckland.
Frequent clashes ensued with Abel until Buckland opted to trade in his remaining shares, which were about 10% at the time, for spinning out the websites he’d created under the Burn Media brand (which included Ventureburn and its sister publication Memeburn).
Writes Buckland: “I suggested to Mike that we start talking up the partnership of the companies and emphasise the digital agency’s critical role in the group. His response was: ‘Matthew, we don’t do needy’. ‘Who is being needy, Mike?’ I responded. ‘This is not about being needy. It’s a question of leadership, team work and culture creation.’ But I found his statement offensive and one that summed up a general attitude. On 9 February 2018, I handed in my resignation.”
Read more: You think it’s never going to happen to you, but it’s happening to me – Matthew Buckland [Book extract]
Read more: Tafelberg publishers launch late Matthew Buckland’s book
Read more: Matthew Buckland shares all in brutally honest memoir [Review]
Read more: Buckland helped bring together, inspire tech startup community – Silicon Cape
Read more: Farewell Matt, your legacy will forever live on [Obituary]
Read more: African tech startup community pays tribute to Matthew Buckland
Read more: Matthew Buckland, an SA media industry giant and our dear founder, has died
*Sadly Matthew our founder (or Matt as he was known to all close and dear to him), passed away just over four months after writing these words, on 23 April 2018. He will be sorely missed by all.
‘So You Want to Build A Startup’ retails for R295 and is available in all major bookstore in South Africa (it can also be ordered on Amazon, Takealot and Loot), but Ventureburn is giving away three free copies.
To stand a chance to get a free copy email firstname.lastname@example.org and simply let us know whether you are an investor, entrepreneur or observer and tell us:
- What are the best things about startups in Africa.
- What are the most frustrating things about startups in Africa.
- How Ventureburn help improve what’s good and challenge what’s bad