Change has come to the White House


Check it out if you haven’t already:

Really like what they are doing on the site, think it sets the tone and raises the bar of online efforts for pretty much everyone trying to engage… awesome work.

As for today, I certainly feel different about America, so I can’t imagine how Americans are feeling.
The world waits….

It’s not about being the most frugal


Henrik comments on my Building a Startup You Love (is Hard) pdf / ebook
_ Henrik Torstensson’s Weblog: It is not about being the most frugal

Indeed, frugality is a great trait to have, in my humble opinion, when building a startup. You go and buy fruit and nuts instead of getting food delivered from the Ritz, you use online services with a cheap monthly subscription instead of buying in hardware / software, you start with interns and grow them into superstars instead of hiring FTE MBA grads… there are many examples.

However, I think being sustainable is more important. If frugality is living beneath your means, then sustainability is the bar you set to decide what your means are…. Does that make sense?

Would we be seeing the proliferation of services / apps everywhere, if they all had to make cash from Day 1? Probably not.

We’d be the poorer for it, and have less gimmicks to play with during lunch, but I also think we’d get better quality, and more attention to what is actually useful, as ultimately that is what people will pay for. Anyways, that’s another rant.

Henrik – thanks for the plug ;-)

Shake and bake baby – MyHeritage buys Kindo


A few years ago, I think it was October 2005 to be exact, I was leaving Open Box Software, and had decided to go it on my own, for the second time. If someone had asked me then if today was where I was going to be now (start to acquisition in just over a year), I think I would have been hopeful but would probably have laughed.

After all, I had no money, knew few people, and although I was certainly competent technically I was never going to be a Larry Page. Breaking new ground and creating awesomeness is not easy for me, I tried being an artist but didn’t get very far. I’m a zoologist you see, I analyse and optimise, always within the constraints of an ecosystem which has rules and flows. I don’t regret not being a proper zoologist yet, there will be time for that one day.

So here I am 3 years later and what a rush it’s been
Kindo loves MyHeritage
Kindo loves MyHeritage

Full story on the Kindo blog.
Seen on Techrunch UK, VentureBeat, Techcrunch US, paidContent and PHP Kitchen to mention a few of the 130 odd posts thus far.
Here is the official press release.

Along the way, I’ve managed to learn many new things, grow with some fine people, evolve as a person, adapt to changing situations, and almost break myself in the process. Looking back it was brute force until recently. Now I get by on smarts. Hopefully it’ll stay that way.

The chair it all started on
This is the chair it all started on, back in my bedroom.

I’ve been wondering what this post should be about for a while now, as so much blood, sweat and many tears are tied to this, but I’m pretty sure that getting too personal is not really interesting to most people. Those that know me know what I’ve been through and why it’s something I could get emotional about. Instead I think I’m going to thank the people that have been involved along the way, and leave it at that.

Malcolm – thanks for believing in me right at the beginning, truly, truly appreciated.

Joseph – thanks for all the time we’ve spent discussing things dude, you’re a legend.

Rachel – thanks for all the work you did with me, it’s made a massive difference. I’ll be grateful to you for as long as I live…

Fraser and Cliff – thanks for the first lessons you imparted, your support, and the opportunities you’ve given me.

Debora, Georgie, Andrew, Katherine, Leo – thanks for being so good at what you do, being human, and letting me grow in my own lunchbox.

Alistair, Nick, Tom, Tim and Ido – thanks for taking a chance, I hope you guys are realising the benefits of the stuff we did for you.

Ryan, Gill, John, Dustin, Erin, Peter, Ed, Andy, Hash, Dave, Chris – you guys have given so much support and understanding when I couldn’t find that anywhere else.  More than anything, you understand.  We’re all older and wiser now, lets do some cool stuff, shall we ;-)

Stephen – I don’t know what you were thinking when you carried on past the first weeks of working with me back in the Summer of 2006, but I think we’ve come a long way since then. Thanks for being so reliable. Thanks for your sense of humour. Most of all, thanks to the Hoff. Looking forward to company 3… ;-)

Andrew – like Stephen, you’ve stuck around through thick and thin, which for me is both a compliment and a wonder. Thanks for your calm head, and experienced hand. Looking forward to company 4… ;-)

Demian – I’ve learnt much from you, and have enjoyed the benefit of your experience, it’s almost unbelievable we made it through that cold office and into 38k profiles a day ;-)

Stan, Dmitri, Julien, Thomas, Ali, James, Damon – You’re all great hackers, it’s been a pleasure working with you, even when the office felt like a pressure cooker at times.

Ryan, Adam, Andy – You guys gave us the designs that made us stand out and look the business. You’re all great to work with, and it’s been awesome. Hope we can work together more in the future.

Nils – I was doubtful at first, ‘cos I couldn’t see through your calmness, but now I’m a believer. It is a pleasure, and I’m looking forward to the next chapters. Onwards and upwards.

Mario, Martin, Julia, Alberto, Fabien, Sophiane – Guys, we couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it without you. So many startups forget that the human (read: marketing / pr) side of things is actually what makes progress in the real world. All the code in the world doesn’t matter if people can’t find you. So, thanks for the long hours, dedication and hard work, I hope you guys become giants when you’re grown up ;-)

The day of the announcement
An awesome bunch of people, would go with you anywhere.

Saul, Robin, Stefan, Taavet, Eileen, Peter – Thanks for believing in us, the help and guidance you’ve given, and ultimately what’s rubbed off onto us. I/we couldn’t have asked for a better group of people for backing.

Sarah – thanks for being there when things got tough, I’m gutted you’re not around now ;-(

Marisha – your honesty, perspective and values are appreciated more than you know or will admit to… Thanks!

Tina – thanks for your hard work in the sale process, enough said ;-)

– thanks for the advice, even though we didn’t work with you guys…

Morgs – thanks for being so patient, and for putting up with so much of me being unavailable as a brother, and for not throwing my laptop out the window when it would have been expected to do so. You’re the best, almost like a Gillette razor ;-)

Mom and Dad – where do I start? How do I begin? Everything I call a virtue has been instilled by you, so what else can I say?

– I’ve only known you a relatively short while, but it’s been great. Thanks for your insight, wisdom, and for hitting me on the head a few times – looking forward to the next few years!

Gilad, Sueli, Uri and Nir – great job on MyHeritage so far, lets build something significant to families around the world!

And last but certainly not least, the good guys that have kept my feet planted firmly on the ground, in no particular order:
Anne, Scurry, Wazza, Georgie, Wagon, Sean, Snorkes, Biff, Cone, Dunners, Tim, Penguin, Pete Z, Worville, Strola, Hobbo, Steel, Deano, Brettie, Mark, Phil, Lazza, Irish, Miles, Richy, Frances, Russ, Hollster, Matt, Trish, George, Brett, Lisa, Jen, Shev, Debsk, Benno, Edge, Jon, Tina, Stoner, Charlie “Heart like fire, Mind like Ice” Reville, Charlie “Richard” Charlesworth, Cookie, Jim “The Legend” Sayer, Badman, B Hanlon, Charlie “Yeah!” Howard, Charlie “C-F” Theux… and more to come as I think of them ;-)

TECH4FRICA conference postponed for 2008


I’ve been delaying this blog post in the hope that one or two avenues would change things, but unfortunately they haven’t and so it’s time to face reality ;-(

In short, unfortunately I/we weren’t able to raise enough money through sponsorship to cover enough of the costs needed to make the financial risks tenable, which effectively means no conference this year. The majority of responses were along the lines of “we’ve already allocated our budget for this year”, or “it’s not our business focus so we won’t spend money on it”.

*** Please spread the word ***

So, the obvious course of action is to try get into next years budgets; and keep plugging away at people to get at least a yes/no. Based on that, it’s either a yes for sometime in 2009 / 2010; or give up on the idea having tried, failed and learnt from it. I’m not convinced that giving up is the only option just yet though!! ;-)

That said, a few good things have come from the efforts so far, and they are:

  1. a few people have stepped forward to offer sponsorship in the last week or two, unfortunately it’s not enough to cover costs, but it is a good sign.
  2. word seems to be spreading, I’ve been amazed at how many emails have come in every day, from all over.
  3. Most of the speakers have committed to staying involved, which means that we’re still able to speak to sponsors with such a great lineup

Bottom line:

  1. My sincerest apologies to you all.
  2. If you have any questions or comments, please comment.

You can read the blog post and comments here.

Thanks, and will be blogging soon with more news!!

Job: Social Media Manager in Johannesburg


(Directing strategy, content and actions on niche social networks)

Context: Social media and digital technology offers business powerful ways to interact and collaborate with their customer, channel and employee communities. This speed and flexibility offered by innovative Web 2.0 tools and Social Networking platforms is one of the only remaining avenues for competitive advantage.

The Virtual Works are an 11 year old business that supply outsourced expertise, creativity and engagement systems and management services to help clients build and engage their enterprise communities. We run niche social networks – for business reasons – and offer our clients a REAL rate of return on Web 2.0 platforms. For a live example – check out

Roles: 4 key functional roles exist at The Virtual Works:
1.Strategy: We help our clients develop community engagement objectives and strategies.
2.Data: We gather and capture profile data and the opt-in consent to engage members.
3.Systems: We configure open source Web 2.0 platforms to help our clients manage their interactive relationships.
4.Engage: We create the content, the value and invent tactics to get community interaction, engagement and commitment – and measure our results.

Social Media Manager: Drive community interaction and engagement to get community commitment – profitably:
1.Design social networks (Strategically – this isn’t a development position! Just be at home with Web 2.0…)
2.Implement widgets / Web 2.0 measuring tools and plugins
3.Implement the strategy/Build community eco-system. Make sure the right people exist inside the network – it’s the only way to trade value for loyalty.
4.Create and Manage content and value distribution. Work with writers to direct the content strategy.
5.Administrate the network
6.Set up moderation processes to keep content focussed.
7.Invent and innovate.
8.Promote, blog and market the niche social network. Liase with PR to make it famous.
9.Analyse and measure. Web analytics. Sales analytics. ROI.
10.Grow the network in terms of member base, interactions and client sponsors.
11.Rinse. Repeat. Refine.

Skills required:
1.Social media / Web 2.0 / internet savvy.
2.Trained in marketing communication discipline. [Degree/diploma]
3.Good communication/writing and presentation skills.
4.Strategic thinking ability.
Personality attributes
1.Results orientated.
2.Over the top passionate about the web as a medium… but clever enough to think strategically though its impementation.
3.Good planner/co-ordinator. Inventive/creative
4.Self starter. No spoon feeding. Take the ball – web with it.
Package: R20k to R25k p/m CTC and a 20% profit share on the community. Run a business, within a business!

Email CV’s and a reason why you’re great to [email protected]