MXit CEO Heunis steps down

2011-09-22 12:15

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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  • Johannes Viljoen - 2011-09-22 12:24

    Nice one dude!!

  • Currie_Mafia - 2011-09-22 12:34

    Great homegrown talent ! Bigger than Facebook & Twitter in SA, Impressive !

  • Deadr4t - 2011-09-22 12:35

    Who uses mxit?

      DoublySalmon - 2011-09-22 12:36

      Easier to say who doesn't.

      Ace - 2011-09-22 12:54

      Easiest way to vote for South African Idols. We're almost moving into 2012....get upto date.

      Currie_Mafia - 2011-09-22 12:56

      42 000 000 users.

      MrMojoRisin - 2011-09-22 13:07

      What he meant is, who uses Mxit anymore . . . Whatsapp and BBM is killing it now.

      Ace - 2011-09-22 13:23

      So why does a international franchise like Idols use MXit? Because Whatsapp and BBM has consumer restrictions as you need Android and or Black Berry devices to use the service.

      droplet - 2011-09-22 13:38

      @mrmojo... smartphone saturation in south africa is minimal

      Currie_Mafia - 2011-09-22 13:50

      Agreed droplet, just ask Vodacom.

      MisterMR - 2011-09-22 16:01

      People who don't have BBM...

  • IC1 - 2011-09-22 12:45

    Job well done Herman, you deserve all the good this is going to get you, well done.

  • Inhlanzi - 2011-09-22 12:46

    Good idea getting out of Mxit,it was good back in the day, now with BBM,Wazapp etc. I can't see it growing, only pervert will keep using it

  • Aron Patel - 2011-09-22 12:52

    As a mxit user from the very start, it has been one of the most affordable social networks out there and does not consume the world of data. If the new CEO starts playing with figures and tries to milk the users for more money by drastically increasing prices and data requirements.the other social networks will see a nice rise in users as twitter and Facebook will seem more and more appealing never mind the impact of the blackberry BBM. It will be hard shoes to fill for this new CEO as Herman Heunis kept a good balance and grew Mxit into the company it is now, not through flashy advertising but through word of mouth and an epic app that basically sold itself.

      Rudi Kay - 2011-09-22 13:29

      With a Knott-Craig at the helm, lots of money has to be made. Watch the costs rise!

  • Brakkies - 2011-09-22 12:56

    Every man's dream, work hard, build up your company and sell it for a few hundred million or so (I presume he would've gotten plenty). Then retire and go play and do the things you love. Nice one, well done dude

      Neles - 2011-09-22 13:47

      or even better, become the buyer of other businesses so that their owners can retire and play golf while you diversify your portfolio and forge ahead with your empire in the making

  • Johnaton - 2011-09-22 12:59

    How much did he sell it for?

  • Jean - 2011-09-22 13:04

    What a great example of " hard work pays off " .. an exaple to us all.

      Tokkel Loshi - 2011-09-22 13:37

      Yeah mean the D.A did not give him this business beacuse of he's colour ?

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