MXit CEO Heunis steps down

2011-09-22 12:15
MXit CEO and founder Herman Heunis is stepping down after selling the company. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

MXit CEO and founder Herman Heunis is stepping down after selling the company. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Social network MXit has announced that Herman Heunis is stepping down after the firm was acquired by World of Avatar.

One gets older and one gets more tired. It's time for new energy," founder and CEO Heunis told News24.

World of Avatar CEO Alan Knott-Craig jnr is expected to take over as CEO of MXit by early October and Heunis said that it has not been easy at the helm.

"It's not a one day thing; I think it's been coming for a while now and it's been a tough ride since 2005. I've been in the software industry now for 31 years and a nice break will be fantastic."

It is unlikely that the MXit platform will be dramatically changed in the short term said Knott-Craig.

New energy

"In the short-term, we want MXit to maintain and grow its position as the largest mobile social network in Africa.  This means a focus on consolidating and strengthening the core of the business before we move to implement the long- term strategy."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Heunis is happy to take a break and is considering several options.

"There's a couple of things I'd like to do: I'm seriously considering doing the Cape Epic next year, the Dakar race on a bike. I want to write a book about the MXit story - there're many things I want to do."

He said that the social network with 42 million users, bigger in South Africa than Facebook and Twitter, needed new energy.

"I'm very excited about where they can take MXit to and the staff is also excited. I think we need new energy in the company.

"The only advice I can give is I've assembled a team of brilliant people - some of them are probably some of the best in the world - and it is to look after those people," he added.

The current staff will all likely retain their positions and there are no plans to move the company from its Stellenbosch headquarters.

Both current shareholders, MIH Holdings (a subsidiary of Naspers) and Heunis have sold their entire shareholding in MXit and Heunis wished the new CEO well, but added that running a social network was no walk in the park.

"Running a tech company is not for sissies, some days it's straight from hell. It's a very demanding, but very satisfying job."


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