Hasso Plattner (ex-SAP CEO) Ventures launches $45mm VC fund in South Africa

I’ve mentioned Hasso Plattner a number of times in my blog. He is the colorful co-founder and former CEO of SAP AG. He is also the father of SAP’s client-server 3-tiered product called R/3.This week Hasso Plattner launch HP Ventures Africa (Hasso Plattner — not to be confused with Hewlett Packard) in Cape Town, South Africa. Vendorprisey mentioned it in his blog. HPV is also active in Europe. Jeff Nolan used to work for SAP Ventures and he had blogged about his first meeting with Hasso Plattner.I quote from this week’s BusinessWeek article:

Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa will be targeted mainly at companies in telecom, mobile applications, media, software, renewable energy, and energy-saving technologies.

and from the SAgoodnews.co.za website:

A new R350 million venture capital fund has been launched to give innovators in South Africa a leg up into the global technology arena.The Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa, named after the co-founder of software giant SAP, aims to invest in and manage a portfolio of investments that have a unique innovative offering either based on the business model, product offering or underlying technology.Focusing predominantly on activities in South Africa and later in other emerging African markets, the technology investments will concentrate on telecommunications, mobile applications, media and software as well as clean technology investments such as renewable energy, energy-saving concepts and similar business segments in early stages of their development.Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa aims to identify companies that have the potential to succeed on an international level and will provide access to an international network of leading companies, venture capital firms and institutions in the technology arena, according to Andrea Böhmert, who is going to head the fund.”In the past SA technology companies have found it almost impossible to get funding from international groups outside of South Africa,” said Böhmert.“All start up businesses know, that it is extremely important not only to get investment funding but also assistance in accessing global markets. This is where our fund can score. Prof. Plattner and co-funders MAN Ferrostaal will be able to `open doors´ for start ups that would never be accessible otherwise across the IT industry as well as in the industrial solutions sector.”

C|Net talks about the fund’s Green focus.And finally you can click here, to submit a proposal to the Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa Fund. Good luck!

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100 Ways to Succeed and Make Money

Tom Peters is always interesting and unconventional. I found his 100 ways to succeed and make money and interesting read. It’s similar to Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” .Here are some of my favorites:

  • Number #3: Write thank you notes.
  • Number #4: Make the difficult call NOW!
  • Number #6: Make today count — legacy. Similar to my principle of making each moment count.
  • Number #14: Read (and act on) these 3 books. You’ll have to read the manifesto to find out.
  • Number #17: He/She who has the Best Story wins!
  • Number #23: Design means you.
  • Number #29: Get the story! – everyone is important and has a story.
  • Number #33: Out-read ’em.
  • Number #47: Just drill – drill more wells than the next guy.

This is from the first 50 found on ChangeThis.com. I’ll list my favorites from the rest next…

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Global South Africans project

The Global South Africans (GSA) project recently launched their website. Quoted from the Welcome page:

GSA is a growing network of talented and successful South Africans who live abroad but still feel deeply attached to the country and want to contribute to the country’s growth and success.The initiative is being spearheaded by the International Marketing Council of South Africa, a public-private partnership dedicated to increasing global support for South Africa’s young democracy and for the continent of which South Africa is a part.There is a supply and a demand side to the GSA project. On the supply side, the idea is to empower network members to contribute in ways that suit their talents and desired level of engagement. On the demand side, we are marketing GSA as resource to South Africans who could benefit from the extraordinary range knowledge and connections the network represents.In coming months, we will be launching a more formal website. In the interim, we will use this blog to talk about how things are progressing, stimulate discussion and linkages and, we hope, generate a growing list of network contributions.A word about that word contributions. GSA isn’t about passing the tin cup. As we hope this blog will elucidate, it’s about knowledge transfer.

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Vinny Lingham – CEO of Synthasite


Recently Vinny Lingham stepped down from his post as chief strategy officer of IncuBeta, the online marketing company he co-founded, to concentrate on the interests of his venture capital company, Lingham Capital and more specifically on Synthasite. Lingham, along with his wife, Charlene, and a couple of friends started IncuBeta in 2003 and have grown the Cape Town company into a 50-employee operation with offices in the United Kingdom and United States. IncuBeta owns and manages several businesses, namely Clicks2Customers, a performance search marketing partner; SEM agency Quirk, ReveNews, and CostPerNews.


Another IncuBeta startup company, Synthasite, is now one of the primary investments of his venture capital enterprise, Lingham Capital, and one of the primary targets of Lingham’s attention. Synthasite recently received another round of financing worth $5mm.


Lingham is a mix of youthful energy and idealism, hard work, brains and national pride. He’s 28, works 60-70 hours a week, is a member of the Mensa organization, and loves South Africa.


Raised in East London, a city on the east coast of South Africa, Lingham received an information systems degree from the University of Cape Town and (Vinny corrected me: he dropped out because he didn’t have the finances to continue. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets an honorary degree from UCT) an honors degree in electronic commerce from the University of South Africa. He is a fourth generation South African with ancestors from India. He loves to read, especially novels by Dan Brown and Tom Clancy, and is a movie fan. He considers Virgin founder Richard Bransen and U2 lead singer Bono personal role models. (He admires Bransen for his passion and fun, and Bono for his work for Africa.) In 2006 Lingham was the winner of the Top Young IT Entrepreneur in Africa Award. He is also listed in South Africa’s who’s who database.


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Just-in-time (JIT) training for entrepreneurs

I think that the exponential increase of on-demand video (youtube.com, Yahoo! video) will allow entrepreneurs to learn on-the-fly from some incredible sources. The problem with Youtube is that it takes time to find quality videos, like this Sellingpower interview of SAP Americas CEO, Bill McDermont.The Stanford’s Educations Corner is an entrepreneur’s best friend. It contains wisdom, knowledge, tried-and-tested experience from very well-known and experienced business people like John Doerr (Kerner Perkins), Carly Fiorina (former HP CEO), and Guy Kawasaki (Garage Ventures). This month’s Futurist click-of-the-month is SciVee.tv. This is a great example of a site aggregating some quality videos.

We expect to disseminate science to the widest possible audience, thereby bringing the YouTube generation–who are the next generation of leading scientists–the best science using a medium they have adopted and use on a daily basis,” says University of California, San Diego, pharmacy professor Phillip E. Bourne, one of the directors of the SciVee project.

Apple’s iTunes now contains a section called uTunes. uTunes contains audio lectures from prominent universities like MIT, Stanford, Duke and Berkley.Another interesting site is slideshare.net. On this site you’ll find lots of very well articulated business presentations. Again, you’ll have to search a little to get gems like this one:View on SlideShareWhich sites do you use for your JIT training?

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Lyndon Rive – Green energy CEO (SolarCity) and Underwater Hockey player

Even though Lyndon Rive is the architect and builder of a successful IT company and now serves as CEO of a growing solar power operation, the most interesting thing about this 30-year-old South African may be that he plays mid-mid position on the (and I’m not making this up) U.S. Men’s Underwater Hockey Team. The sport works pretty much like ice hockey except, of course, the playing field is the bottom of a swimming pool. Two teams of six players each hold their breaths for as long as they can and smack the puck around the pool using a foot-long stick. Rive’s been playing since 1992.Hockey aside, his head seems to be placed well above the water. Rive, along with brothers Peter and Russ head SolarCity, the leading provider of solar energy systems to homes and businesses. They want to bring solar power to the mass market by making it affordable. SolarCity’s method of accomplishing this is by group buying. The company’s sales force blankets a targeted neighborhood and when it gets 50 or so commitments, buys the solar panels and sends out installation teams to erect them. Customers save 20-30% from the group discount.Rive thinks America is ready for solar power. “People want to go green,” he said, “but they won’t do it if it costs them an arm and a leg. Even the extreme environmentalists can’t justify it.” He feels mom and pop solar operations don’t offer the stability that SolarCity provides, backed by capital provided by his cousin, Internet giant Elon Musk (who serves as chairman at SolarCity) and JP Morgan Bank. They recently received $21M in new funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson. SolarCity employs around 150 full-time employees and installs 60 to 70 systems a month. It concentrates on California but has plans to expand to Colorado.

Rive @ the Going Green 2007 conference.In 1998 Lyndon and Russell Rive created Everdream, which serves small businesses that have fewer than 20 employees by providing computer hardware, round-the-clock technology support services, desktop management services, Internet access and free online training for a single monthly subscription charge of about $150. Offerings include application management, software distribution, hardware integration and help desk services. The brothers started selling their services going door-to-door on skateboards and, after securing some seed money, grew the business within eight months into a 100-employee operation occupying a 40,000-square-foot space. The Rives have since replaced themselves at Everdream with another management team so they could start SolarCity, but Lyndon still serves Everdream as vice president.Rive’s past business ventures include an alternative health production and distribution company, which he grew to over 1000 sales representatives with multiple product lines within four years.At this month’s Solar Power Conference in Long Beach, Calif., Rive said that payback is not the way to look at the decision to use solar energy. “Return on investment is the way to think about it. A savings account gives you 2% return. Solar system return on investment with a utility like Los Angeles Department of Water and Power that has lower rates is 5%-6%. Solar system return on investment with a utility like Southern California Edison that has higher rates is 10%-12%. And studies show a solar system increases the value of the house more than the cost…..It is the best home improvement you can do for property value.” On why he is now in the “green” market Rive, in an interview with ABC News, said,”Looking at the world’s biggest problems, software is not going to address it. It’s one of the few industries where you have the opportunity to make some money and do good.” Here’s another writeup on SolarCity in Fast Company.Rive does have other interests besides business and underwater hockey. He lists his hobbies as kitesurfing, wakeboarding, snowboarding and mountain biking.

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