Google in Africa

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Archive for July 2007

Google SA – dusty outpost or a revitaliser of industry?

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posted by Vincent Maher

After what feels like ages [and countless rumours] Google has appointed someone to the position of general manager for South Africa. Kimberly Guest’s exclusive on ITWeb reports that Stafford Masie, Novell’s country manager, has been appointed to the job.

There has been much debate about which industry this person would come from – media, advertising, tech – and what sort of attributes they would need to have. Until last week I was thinking it would be a media person, but then someone reminded me of the difficult relationship Google tends to have with traditional media. The pure-play online media people tend to have less business experience/success in South Africa and advertising people are too specialised for a job like this so I think they made the right call.

It’s not that South Africa is a major focus area for Google, though in the EMEA context it probably is big alongside Egypt, it’s that the impact of Google making direct and interpersonal connections with advertisers in this country might well have a significant impact on the online media industry and their margins. The fact is the local online ad industry doesn’t need a revitalisation, it has been going through one for the last two years and the entry of Google on a more serious level may have a negative impact on the local entrepreneurship we’re seeing.

Aside from that, local companies paying offshore companies for local ad-spots seems a bit like we’re a banana republic.

On the other hand, and I know some people are already thinking this way, it might just turn out to be a regional backwater in Google’s colonial sprawl. Either way it’s going to be interesting to find out.


Written by aheavens

July 27, 2007 at 3:03 pm

Google grabs Novell SA boss

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[ Johannesburg, 27 July 2007 ] – Novell SA country manager Stafford Masie has resigned in order to establish and head up the local operation of Internet giant Google.

The Novell veteran has led the South African office since 2003. Prior to that, Masie served at the company’s corporate headquarters in Utah and Arizona, US.

This morning, Masie confirmed his resignation from software house Novell and his appointment as GM for Google locally.

“I will be heading up Google’s operations in SA as of 3 September, more than that I cannot say. Google will issue a formal statement soon,” he said.

Last year, ITWeb reported that Google was advertising three posts in SA on its jobs site. These included a country manager, vertical account manager and a multi-sector vertical head. Currently, the company has no available posts listed for the Africa region.

Meanwhile, Novell SA’s marketing and channel manager, Trish Barwick, says the company is “honoured” that one of its people has been selected to open Google’s local office.

“We are sad to see him go; but very excited about what he will be doing,” she says.

A statement regarding Masie’s replacement will be made shortly, Barwick adds.

Google was unavailable for comment. Its chairman and CEO, Eric Schmidt, was recruited in 2001 by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin from Novell, where he was chairman and CEO.

Masie spent four years at Novell corporate headquarters in Utah, where he was involved in developing the strategy that saw Novell acquire Linux innovator Ximian and SuSe Linux in 2003, and become an open source software (OSS) company.

He returned to SA in late 2003 to take the reins of Novell SA, becoming the youngest country manger of an IT multinational subsidiary in the country. He has been credited with repositioning Novell as an OSS vendor, as well as being a champion of the OSS movement in South Africa.

Written by aheavens

July 27, 2007 at 2:54 pm