Tag: tech

Need tech? Rent it.

In answer to the 16-million South Africans unable to afford essential home and business equipment, along with those locked into inflexible contracts for outdated technology, Rentoza has created a secure online marketplace that allows consumers to subscribe for the use of products for a specific time period.

Says Aviraag Ramdhani, CFO of Rentoza: “Customers who subscribe to Rentoza have the option of upgrading, returning or purchasing the product on completion of the subscription.

“Subscriptions are for six or 12 months, and users get access to their specific orders rapidly, with an option of collection or Rentoza delivery.”

Having secured partnerships with world-renowned OEMs and distributors, giving subscribers access to over 1 000 unique products such as mobile phones, wearable devices, laptops and more, Rentoza is currently undergoing rapid expansion, proof that its business model is one that is responding to consumer’s needs now and in the future.

Ramdhani says that the company has already increased its staff compliment to maintain the company’s growth of 48% growth in revenue from January 20-20 to April 2021, and 500% user base growth in the same period.

Rentoza’s online rental marketplace also allows individuals to list their used assets for sale. “Our portal offers to choose from a variety of household and electronic equipment which can be rented as per availability,” says Ramdhani, “enabling users to get hold of products they require and the rent the products in a cost-efficient manner.”

To facilitate their current business model and future growth, Rentoza chose to align with ProfitShare Partners for alternative funding. Says Ramdhani: “There are thousands of SMEs that cannot access finance through traditional channels due to restrictive funding criteria.

“Alternative funding such as that Profitshare Partners offers is imperative to support the growth of SMEs which ultimately leads to job creation and prosperity. We have found Profitshare Partners to be an innovative and efficient funding partner that is breaking new ground through its funding model.”

Ramdhani highlights Profitshare Partners’ speedy and efficient digitally enabled application process and helpful, responsive employees which ultimately leads to far quicker availability of capital.

“It was a perfect fit for Rentoza. While we offer the sustainability of renting and selling products at any stage of their life span, Profitshare Partners is at our side to help us grow our business. It’s a win-win situation for like-minded companies seeking success.

Amazon on a hiring spree in South Africa

Amazon is advertising 168 jobs in South Africa, including work-from-home positions that can be done anywhere in the country.

South Africa is one of the countries where Amazon is expanding its presence. Last year Amazon Web Services (AWS) went live with the Cape Town region, which opened many new positions.

This followed an announcement by Amazon in June 2020 that it was hiring 3 000 new staff members in South Africa, ranging from customer service associates to technical experts.

Amazon customer service director in South Africa, Andrew Raichlin, said they were “thrilled with the talent in South Africa.”

This hiring spree will take the number of employees of Amazon in South Africa to 7 000, which makes it one of the largest tech employers in the country.

Another vote of confidence in South Africa is Amazon’s decision to base its new African headquarters in Cape Town.

The company is the anchor tenant in the new R4-billion River Club development, which received the go-ahead from the City of Cape Town earlier this year.

Amazon’s expansion in South Africa continues and the company is now advertising many new vacancies in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

There are also a few work from home vacancies where successful candidates can work from anywhere in South Africa. Applicants must have a fibre broadband connection at home.

Most of the new Amazon jobs are technical, including operations and support engineering, software development, and technical product management.

Why LG killed its phone business

By Lisa Eadicicco for Business Insider US

LG is officially bowing out of the smartphone market.

The South Korean tech giant announced on April 5 that it’s exiting the “highly competitive” smartphone business by closing its mobile unit, signaling the end of an era for a company that was once a top-tier handset maker.

The decision underscores how difficult it is to compete with industry giants like Samsung and Apple, particularly in the United States which is part of the world’s third largest smartphone market.

LG was once among the top five smartphone makers in the world. However, it failed to stand its ground.

Worldwide, Apple took the number one spot in the fourth quarter of 2020 with 23.4% of the market while Samsung came in second with 19.1%, according to The International Data Corporation.

Samsung and LG are longtime rivals in the electronics and home appliances industries, but there’s one critical advantage the former has that the latter lacks when it comes to smartphones.

Samsung established itself as the primary competitor to the iPhone when the smartphone market was still fairly young in 2012. Back then, it had a blockbuster hit on its hands with the Galaxy S3, which overtook the iPhone 4S to become the world’s best-selling smartphone in 2012, according to Strategy Analytics.

The Galaxy S3’s successful launch helped shape a narrative that the smartphone market had become a two-horse race between Apple and Samsung. It fuelled headlines in outlets like The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and The Guardian declaring the two tech giants as the winners of what had become the biggest shift in computing in recent history.

No Android phone maker had anything that came close to the popularity of the Galaxy S3 at the time. It put Samsung’s Galaxy S series on the map, setting it up to be the iPhone’s main competitor for years to come.

And despite being more innovative in some ways, other Android phone makers simply couldn’t keep up. For example, tech critics praised HTC in 2013 for its eye-catching One M7 phone, which outpaced every Android phone on the market in terms of build quality and design. But it never had the sales to match those accolades, and HTC sold a chunk of its smartphone business to Google in 2018.

Motorola’s original Moto X from 2013 was also ahead of its time with hands-free voice controls that preceded the Amazon Echo and was well-received by reviewers. But Google sold off Motorola’s mobile unit to Lenovo 2014, and the PC giant has struggled to boost its presence in the smartphone market.

Even Google, which operates Android, has had a hard time breaking into the smartphone business. It pivoted to selling less expensive Pixel smartphones after it had trouble selling high-end phones designed to compete with the iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S line.

LG took a similar path. It was ahead of competitors in some ways, such as its decision to bring cameras with a wider field of view to its smartphones years before Apple and Samsung did. But its smartphone division has incurred losses totalling $4.5 billion over six years, resulting in the decision to shut down the unit after it reportedly failed to find a buyer. LG will instead focus on areas like smart home devices, electric vehicle components, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

Of course, the success of Samsung and Apple is just one element that’s influenced the market for mobile phones, albeit a big one. Popular Chinese brands that have stood out for their more accessible price points like Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, and OnePlus also rose in popularity around the time that LG’s market share began slipping around 2015, as Gartner data provided to Insider indicates.

Still, Samsung and Apple have been comfortably at the top of the smartphone market for years, and LG is just the latest casualty.

 

Source: EWN

Elon Musk, the charismatic chief of electric automaker Tesla, has overtaken Bill Gates to become the world’s second richest person, according to the Bloomberg list of billionaires.

The South African-born Musk, 49, added $7.2-billion in wealth on Monday alone following Tesla’s latest surge. He now has an estimated $128-billion.

The outspoken Musk, who is also cofounder of SpaceX, had already overtaken numerous luminaries in recent weeks, including Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Bernard Arnault, the head of French luxury giant LVMH.

Now the only person he stands behind is Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, whose wealth is estimated at $182 billion.

The upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic has allowed the ultra-rich to amass even more wealth as technology companies have gobbled up more market share of the economy.

In 2020, Tesla shares have surged more than 500% and the company is now valued at more than $500-billion.

Musk, who owns about 18% of the shares, has made some $100-billion during this stretch.

Tesla shares have gained further since the presidential election of Joe Biden, who favours more aggressive policies to address climate change. Tesla was also boosted by an announcement that it is being added to the prestigious S&P 500 index.

 

Naspers to invest R1.4bn in SA tech start-ups

Source: BizNews

Naspers Limited, the multinational Internet group which is known for its principal operations in Internet communication, entertainment, gaming and e-commerce, held its 106th annual general meeting last week.

Naspers Limited, the multinational Internet group which is known for its principal operations in Internet communication, entertainment, gaming and e-commerce, held its 106th annual general meeting

Following the Prosus listing, Naspers is still the largest South African company on the JSE.
We are one of the foremost investors in the South African technology sector, with the country’s leading etailer and its leading print and digital media business.
Through Naspers Foundry we aim to invest R1.4bn in the next generation of outstanding South African tech start-ups in the coming years. And Naspers Labs is pioneering an innovative hyper-local programme to tackle youth unemployment.

We also continue to contribute significantly in terms of tax: in total, Naspers group paid R13.2bn in taxes in South Africa during the year. In April 2020 we donated R1.5bn in emergency aid to the government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.

This comprised R500m to the Solidarity Response Fund announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, and R1bn of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, which we sourced in China, in partnership with the Chinese government and Tencent, to support South Africa’s health workers.

This included the logistics to fly the equipment to South Africa and, in conjunction with the South African government, the distribution to medical facilities across the country.

Source: MyBroadband

While the impact of COVID-19 on IT and telecoms companies is not as severe as many other industries, these industries are still faced with big challenges because of the downturn in the economy.

ICT companies which have a lot of exposure to the travel, tourism, and restaurant industries, for example, have to deal with a significant loss in revenue.

One of these companies is Adapt IT, which said the negative impact of the lockdown on its clients in the hospitality sector has resulted in 20% of its employees being unable to work or perform their regular duties.

The poor forecast of the hospitality sector has forced Adapt IT to consider staff cuts, and it is currently in a consultation process with 4% of its permanent staff who may be affected.

Altron COO Andrew Holden told MyBroadband they have had to effect temporary layoffs due to the inability of some customers to pay for services as their businesses had been affected by the lockdown.

“Where possible, Altron will seek alternative opportunities for affected employees within the group. Retrenchments are a last resort, and will be limited as far as possible,” said Holden.

Many other large tech companies like Altron, Dimension Data, Blue Label, and Alviva have also indicated that staff cuts may be necessary in the event of a prolonged economic downturn.

Salary cuts
Many South African IT companies had to implement salary cuts to mitigate the financial impact of the lockdown.

Salary cuts in the IT industry were necessary for two main reasons:

Many clients stopped paying because of the impact of the lockdown on their businesses.
Employees could not work because their clients had to close their businesses during lockdown.
In April, EOH CEO Stephen Van Coller announced that the company’s executive committee would take a salary reduction of 25%, with other staff taking a 20% pay cut.

This was needed because of the anticipated drop in payments from clients and future uncertainty on the full impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the company.

Cell C also implemented salary cuts and used the COVID-19 TERS Relief Funds to cover the shortfalls for those employees to the extent provided by the UIF.

Alviva told MyBroadband there were no mass pay cuts at the company, but that it had to implement salary reductions in a few isolated cases.

Altron followed a different approach to ensure the sustainability of the company. Instead of cutting salaries, it reversed all salary increases granted as of 1 March.

Good news for the telecoms industry is that very few of the large mobile operators and ISPs had to implement salary cuts during the lockdown.

Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, Liquid Telecom, Rain, Afrihost, Cool Ideas, and Cybersmart said they have not implemented any salary cuts during the lockdown.

The outlook for the South African ICT industry
While many large IT and telecoms companies were able to prevent retrenchments, they warned that the full impact of COVID-19 may result in staff cuts in future.

Alviva said the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and the company will inform their decision regarding future staff cuts.

Blue Label echoed this view. “Should the lockdown persist indefinitely, and economic conditions continue to adversely impact ourselves and our customers, hard decisions regarding retrenchments will have to be made,” the company said.

Dimension Data told MyBroadband should the need arise to reduce its workforce to ensure sound and responsible fiscal management, it would be done only after exhausting all possible alternatives.

“We will always take a long-term view of the market opportunities, trends, economic outlook, and investment and spend forecasts and put them in the context of our strategy and vision before making any decisions,” Dimension Data said.

Telkom said while it has not cut any salaries at this stage, it is still studying the impact of the virus and the lockdown on the business.

Big tech companies no longer attractive employers

By Jessica Stillman for Inc.com

Look at any list of America’s most in-demand employers from the last decade and you’ll find it’s dotted with big tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook. This prominence, coupled with these firm’s legendary perks and generous pay, might lead you to believe the best and brightest tech talent is knocking down the door to work there.

But according to a handful of fascinating recent reports, the appeal of working at big tech companies is actually on the wane.

The “techlash” comes to college campuses
A parade of ethics scandals, from Facebook’s disinformation problem to Google’s troubles with sexual harassment and Chinese censorship, combined with younger generations’ commitment to working for companies that align with their values, has made going to work for big tech something of an embarrassment at many of America’s elite universities, Emma Goldberg writes in the New York Times.

College seniors and recent graduates looking for jobs that are both principled and high-paying are doing so in a world that has soured on Big Tech. The positive perceptions of Google, Facebook and other large tech firms are crumbling.

Many students still see employment in tech as a ticket to prosperity, but for job seekers who can afford to be choosy, there is a growing sentiment that Silicon Valley’s most lucrative positions aren’t worth the ethical quandaries.

“Working at Google or Facebook seemed like the coolest thing ever my freshman year, because you’d get paid a ton of money but it was socially responsible,” reports one senior Goldberg interviews. Now, “there’s more hesitation about the moral qualities of these jobs. It’s like how people look at Wall Street.”

Another grad, this one from Stanford, relates that when fellow students announce they’re going to work for the likes of Facebook there is “an awkward gap where they feel like they have to justify themselves.”

Working on Wall Street, of course, hardly makes you a pariah, nor are financial firms unable to attract smart young people. But tech companies once enjoyed rock star-like appeal. To find themselves suddenly consigned to the same uncool category as the amoral (at best) finance industry is a big come down.

And Goldberg has numbers to back up this reputational slide. Pew research shows that the percentage of Americans who believe tech companies have a positive impact has fallen from 71 percent just five years ago to 50 percent in 2019. A former recruiter for Facebook revealed the acceptance rates for job offers is down around 40 percent.

Nor is Goldberg the only reporter digging into the story. April Glaser wrote a deep dive into anti-big tech activism at Stanford for Slate last summer. She describes how various groups are warning classmates about the ethical lapses of potential employers, including handing out leaflets at career fairs. Others are nudging computer science grads towards more ethical gigs at non-profits.

A headache for Big Tech, an opportunity for others
For big tech all this is definitely a headache (and possibly a wakeup call). For smaller companies without the ethical entanglements of the industry’s biggest players, it’s an opportunity to win exceptional talent at slighting less eye-watering cost by framing your work as a force for good. Finally, for tech-savvy employees, the so-called “techlash” may represent a dawning realization of their own power.

“Tech companies can hire new cafeteria workers and gig economy drivers, but talented software engineers, security researchers, and mathematicians are in short supply,” Boing Boing points out. “They have incredible leverage over the Big Tech companies, and, as they start to build solidarity with their users and more easily replaced co-workers, they have it within their power to bring Big Tech to its knees.”

Tech billionaires are just getting richer

By Yusuf Khan for Business Insider US

Tech billionaires are leading the ultra-wealthy in growing their fortunes, according to a UBS report titled “The Billionaire Effect” released on Friday.

The Swiss bank found tech tycoons’ wealth grew 3.4% or $1.3 trillion (roughly R19.1 trillion) in 2018, and the number of tech billionaires nearly doubled from 76 to 148 in five years.

Billionaires have become a key policy issue in the US as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic presidential candidates have proposed wealth taxes.

Tech billionaires are leading the ultra-wealthy in growing their fortunes, according to a UBS report titled “The Billionaire Effect” released on Friday.

UBS, one of the world’s largest wealth managers with roughly 1 000 billionaire clients, found tech tycoons’ wealth grew 3.4% or $1.3 trillion (roughly R19.1 trillion) in 2018, and the number of tech billionaires nearly doubled from 76 to 148 in five years.

The Swiss bank estimated the wealth of tech entrepreneurs like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg almost doubled in the last five years – growing 91%.

“If tech billionaires’ wealth were a country, it would rank second only to the US,” the report said. “Looking back over five years, tech billionaires have driven almost a third of the growth in billionaire wealth. US tech billionaires accounted for more than half of that growth.”

Billionaires have become a key policy issue in the 2020 US presidential election with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other democratic presidential candidates saying they would implement a tax on the ultra wealthy.

Warren has been criticised by billionaires such as Leon Cooperman for her proposed wealth tax of roughly 3% to 6%. Cooperman said she was “s——- on the American dream”.

Meanwhile, tech billionaires have come under fire for issues such as data protection and political advertising on their platforms. Zuckerberg – who’s worth $72.9-billion (roughly R1-trillion), according to Bloomberg – was recently grilled by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Facebook’s sale of personal user data to third parties and policy of allowing false political adverts.

“I think there will be a change in behaviour [of billionaires] driven by the mainstream, with a reduction in risk appetite and I think there will be a reduction of output,” said Josef Stadler, head of UBS’ global ultra-high net worth department. “Whether that’s a good or bad thing I don’t know,”

Stadler made the comments at the report’s launch event in London, in response to a question about whether billionaires will be forced to clean up their acts.

The report highlighted that entrepreneurs who built software, the internet, and equipment are the wealthiest in the tech industry. However, fintech and multimedia have grown rapidly – 419% and 504% respectively in the past five years.

“Even so, pioneers of the future such as e-commerce, fintech, ride hailing, and data systems are making headway, as they stand to disrupt swathes of the global economy,” the report said.

“Banking today is already different today than it was five years go. You look at Revolut and Monzo and the newly developed systems and this will fuel new billionaires or at least millionaires,” said Marcel Tschanz, Swiss head of wealth management at PWC, at the event.

By Jeanny Yu for Bloomberg, Fin24 

China’s biggest online platform Tencent’s accelerating sell-off could get a lot worse if the stock fails to hold above its key support level.

There’s a risk that will happen Thursday: Asia’s biggest stock was down 0.6% in Hong Kong as of 1:03 p.m. local time, despite an otherwise upbeat stock market.

Tencent is now trading below the key level of HK$320 that supported its shares on three occasions this year. The stock has lost about 20% since a peak in April, equivalent to some $93 billion in market value.

Naspers, which via its new digital company Prosus owns a 31% stake in Tencent, is also feeling the pain. Both shares fell by more than 5% yesterday, losing R145 billion of their combined market value in a single day.

While the Tencent shares have been stuck in a downtrend for months, selling was particularly aggressive Wednesday despite no apparent trigger.

Theories circulating round some trading floors included souring sentiment from investors in China, as well as concern that Tencent’s decision to air National Basketball Association games may backfire.

Adding to jitters this week was a local media report that China is considering revising a law to control young people’s online gaming activities – a business that remains one of Tencent’s most profitable.

The Internet giant will report third quarter earnings on November 13.

Prosus, which is currently trading at around R1,020, has now lost almost 18% of its value since its listing in Amsterdam and on the JSE mid-September.

ACSA to spend R1.2bn digitising SA airports

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has set aside R1.2 billion to digitise the country’s airports, according to a recent article in ITWeb.

The announcement was made as the company released its financial results to 31 March.

Highlights include:

  • Profit fell by 58%, largely due to a 50% increase in security costs
  • R287-million was spent on data centre and network upgrades in 2018/19
  • The organisation says it has embarked on a five-year IT upgrade programme
  • The board has set aside R1.2-billion in capital expenditure to spend on IT infrastructure
  • Upgrades will focus on digitising local airports
  • R301-million will be spent on IT network optimisation
  • R142-million will go towards IT backup and storage solutions
  • R240-million will be spent on improving and upgrading the company’s physical IT infrastructure
  • Legacy equipment will be replaced
  • Paperless travel will require it to tightly integrate its passenger processing systems with databases residing with the Department of Home Affairs and Department of Transport, as well as with other airlines
  • Faster passenger processing will allow the retail component of the airport to generate more non-aeronautical revenue
  • A new mobile application will allow customers and passengers to interact with airports remotely

Image credit: ACSA

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