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Pan Macmillan

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Nearly Missing Mxit: Two Extracts from Alan Knott-Craig Jr’s Mobinomics

MobinomicsMemeburn has published two extracts from the opening chapter of Alan Knott-Craig Jr’s Mobinomics: Mxit and Africa’s Mobile Revolution, written with journalist Gus Silber and recently released by Pan Macmillan.

In the first extract, Knott-Craig reveals how he nearly missed out on buying Mxit, having twice turned down the opportunity to buy a stake in the company under founder, Herman Heunis.

The second piece details his first encounter with Heunis and the development of World of Avatar:

Run a small business. Find a job. Educate a child. Pay your bills. Bank. Run a big business. Learn, teach, share, counsel, build. Connect.

In Africa, my home continent, there are about a billion people, and more than half of those hold in their possession the most powerful instrument of social, economic, and political transformation ever invented. We skipped the printing press, the telegraph and the fixed line. We leapfrogged every major breakthrough in communication technology, waiting for the ultimate.

The mobile phone.

In 2006, while I was running a wireless broadband service provider called iBurst, I had flown down to Stellies [Stellenbosch] on a mission to stake my claim to Mxit. A modest stake, but still.

The service at that stage had some 360 000 users, more than two-thirds of whom were in the dream marketing demographic of 12 to 25. And more than 10 000 new users were signing up every day.

Even so, it would have been crazy, back then, to project that Mxit would grow to almost 50-million users, in 120 countries, 23-billion messages a month and up to 50,000 daily signups by 2012. But that’s exactly what happened.

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