x3C Fig Jam | Observations on business, tech, politics & coffee

Deal-makers, dealbreakers, and the crowd

There are three kinds of people. Dealmakers, dealbreakers and the crowd. The crowd is arb. The crowd follows. It won’t lead, it won’t block. Dealmakers make things happen. A combination of intelligence, creativity and perseverance allows these people to find a path when the crowd says it’s impossible. Once they’ve found the path the crowd […]

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13 differences between Stars and Slackers

1. Stars arrive at the office at 7am without being asked. Slackers slouch in at 9, with a new excuse every day for why they’re late. 2. Stars never make excuses; they just own up to their mistakes and fix them without a fuss. Slackers always make excuses and try to shift blame. 3. Stars reply to emails […]

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Don’t leave your company or country because you have a bad jockey

If you believe in your company, don’t quit your job even if your boss is an ass. Bosses come and go, but good companies are forever. The same applies to countries. A great president can’t fix a broken country. A great country can’t be broken by a bad president. Don’t give up on your country, […]

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Who thinks the world is doomed?

Who thinks we’re doomed? Who thinks its game over, insert coin? Not me. The Internet will save the world. Why? People don’t make bad decisions because they’re stupid. They make bad decisions because they don’t have access to all the information information. People don’t do bad things because they’re evil. They do bad things because […]

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Excerpt from Tshwane Mayor’s State of Capital speech

This is awesome for South Africa… “Madam Speaker, we are a society of unequal opportunities on many fronts, often contributing to the widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. In the current digital economy, a lack of access to internet connectivity denies the poorest in our society the requisite opportunities to access basic […]

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Smartphones are like US cars in the 70′s

Every time I reopen an app it refreshes. Every minute brings another push notification. Every software update is over 1GB. It’s like the designers of smartphones live in a land where data is uncapped and free for all. Oh wait, they do. Which is why there is complete disregard for data efficiency. I guess it’s […]

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The mobile Web is killing gatekeepers

Newspaper paywalls don’t work because you can Google the article and go directly to the source. Advertising on the mobile Web doesn’t work because the phone screen is too small to fit in 30 banners selling everything from online poker to insurance. The Internet is taking us down a road where the gatekeepers are being […]

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Why free Wi-Fi is more important than cheap Wi-Fi

When I ran Mxit I saw how it changed peoples lives. The brainchild of some Stellenbosch techies allowed youngsters in the Cape Flats to connect with a world of which they could only dream before. Jobs, education and mostly importantly, social networks were created overnight thanks to cheap messaging that worked on all phones, regardless […]

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4 tips before starting a business

1. If you don’t know how you’re going to make money from day one, you will fail 2. If you don’t have enough savings to last six months without a salary, you will fail 3. If you are not willing to risk asking family and friends for money to start your venture, you will fail Of course, this […]

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How to make money using premium-rated SMS

Many people ask me how to make money via premium rated SMS. To save further repetitions, here is a summary… Since 2002, in South Africa (and most African countries), the mobile operators developed the WASP model (Wireless Application Service Provider) whereby a company can register as a WASP and apply for premium rated codes for […]

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7 lessons for CEOs from @bhorowitz book: The Hard Thing About Hard Things

When raising money, look for a market of one. You only need one investor to say yes, so it’s best to ignore the other thirty that say no. If you’re going to eat shit don’t nibble. Give bad news or take pain all in one go rather than drag out over months. Figuring out the […]

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Accelerating Internet access in Africa…

If bandwidth is like water, then Africa is a desert with Perrier vending machines everywhere. If you have money, you’re fine. If you don’t have money, you’re dying of thirst. Although over 70% of Africans have a mobile phone, and over 90% are covered by mobile networks, less than 10% use the Internet. Which means […]

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2014: The year of going sideways (again)

They say when you are happy you can hear the music. When you’re sad you hear the lyrics. It feels like I’ve been hearing the music and the lyrics in the past few weeks. I could especially hear the words to every song on the day Madiba died. 2013 was a confusing year for many […]

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Why Wi-Fi is ideal for low income communities

Some people are asking is Wi-Fi the best technology for the masses in Africa to access the Internet. Here are 3 reasons: 1.             Network equipment The disintegration of Motorola resulted in the world’s best radio engineers breaking off and starting their own companies, Ubiquiti being chief amongst these. The result, 5 years later, is a paradigm […]

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The secret to taking risk

Taking risk is partly a matter of mind-over-matter, but mostly about environment. It’s more about being in a position to take risk than having the willpower to do so. The following factors create the environment for risk-taking: Financial risk Marry rich Professional qualification to fall back on Savings Wealthy parents (that love you) Low personal […]

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3 kinds of social networks

This is obvious to some people, but it bears summing up for us laymen… There are three kinds of social networks: 1.    Broadcast – Twitter This is about telling the world what you think, and finding out what other people think. It’s more like watching TV than having a conversation in that you don’t have […]

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The difference between excellent and mediocre

The difference between excellent and mediocre is price. And the difference between the haves and have-nots is affordability. To make something available to everyone means to compromise. Its only through compromise that you can the economics work (ie: cheap enough for everyone to afford). To make something excellent is to inevitably raise the price such […]

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The major flaw of Wi-Fi over TV white space

There seems to be a fair bit of excitement of the potential for using the soon-to-be-freed TV white space spectrum for providing Wi-Fi in Africa. Whilst there is no arguing with the awesomeness of this spectrum, we should all be aware a major flaw: There are no devices in the world, outside of prototypes, that […]

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The 3 unloved ingredients of start-up success

We all hear of the big factors for business success, ie: IQ, hard work, perseverance, luck, etc. But there are a couple traits that are as important but get less of the limelight: 1.             Tolerance for uncertainty Start-up life is all about not knowing what the future holds, being ready for curveballs, and being cool […]

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A letter from entrepreneur to employee

Dear John, I think I finally have a small inkling of why you’re choosing to start your own business. I hear you when you say the corporate beast is killing your soul, but is that enough to take the path less travelled? Perhaps it is because you know you can be great. I’m sure many […]

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