WeChat Africa will invest R50 million in tech start-ups
WeChat, the company behind an innovative mobile messaging app, is planning to invest R50 million in tech start-ups across Africa, to support entrepreneurs and technology innovators.
The firm will identify promising tech start-ups and expedite their entrance into the market using its WeChat platform. Access to markets was listed as one of the biggest inhibitors to growth for African tech-enabled businesses in the recent Emerging Companies survey conducted by PWC and Silicon Cape, so this method is sure to become a decisive factor for many start-ups.
To coordinate the initiative, tech strategy practice firm Batstone has been appointed to source and coordinate early stage investment opportunities.
Brett Loubser, head of WeChat Africa said: “Our fund aims to provide financial support to businesses so that they can effectively get on the WeChat platform. This will include technical integration and communications tactics across the Naspers’ stable and other suited channels.”
Since the success of partnerships with start-ups such as Money4Jam, PicUp, and Order In, WeChat’s growth strategy has increasingly focused on integrating with early stage businesses whose models strategically fit with, and clearly demonstrate, the power of the platform and its positioning in the market.
“We have been working with Batstone since mid-2014 and in that time have come to trust their purpose-led approach to understanding and supporting tech businesses. This approach, coupled with their networks, means our partnership is well placed to identify and vet the best possible investment opportunities for WeChat,” said Loubser.
Tech-enabled businesses that have initial market validation alongside a viable product could clearly benefit from WeChat’s technology platform and will gain access to potential consumers.
Alexandra Fraser, Head of Batstone Ventures, said: “Our experience in the past two years has demonstrated that many companies have huge potential but are unable to communicate what they do clearly. We don’t want to miss the chance to work with smart businesses just because they can’t succinctly tell us what they can do in an online form so our process will include a face-to-face workshop element to mitigate this risk.”
Applications via Batstone’s website (www.batstones.com/wechat) will open in mid-January 2016. Selection will be based on a mix of online application and a series of purpose workshops.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”