Friday, August 28, 2015
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Spotlight On Alan Knott-Craig Jr: He Wants To Be A HeroTel
Alan Knott-Craig Jr in 2011, Johannesburg. Photo: Hetty Zantman/Getty Images- See more at: http://afkinsider.com/102694/spotlight-on-alan-knott-craig-jr-he-wants-to-be-a-herotel/?utm_source=AFKInsider+Newsletter&utm_campaign=e190980eb1-AFKInsider_Newsletter_8_27_158_27_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0aff70cb26-e190980eb1-132949841#sthash.Te58O0MB.dpuf
Alan Knott-Craig Jr is the former CEO of Mxit — once Africa’s largest social network — and now he wants to consolidate South Africa’s fragmented wireless Internet market in a new company and run it like a successful Silicon Valley startup, Quartz reports.
Instead of building a company from scratch, Knott-Craig Jr is enticing 200 small wireless Internet service providers across South Africa to join HeroTel—his new company launched Aug. 25. The goal is to bring together South Africa’s small and fragmented wireless Internet providers to build a single national wireless provider by April.
As small wireless Internet providers join, HeroTel will buy in bulk to drive down costs. HeroTel will provide cohesive branding for the individual wireless Internet service providers, according to Quartz.
Knott-Craig Jr is the brains behind Project Isizwe, a social enterprise he started three years ago to help South African municipalities build free Wi-Fi zones in low-income communities. Check out this AFKInsider interview with him talking about Project Isizwe.
He is probably best-known as CEO of the social network Mxit, bought in 2011 by his investment company, World of Avatar. He stepped down less than a year later due to disagreements with shareholders, according to HowWeMadeItInAfrica.
Now Knott-Craig Jr blogs about what he has learned, giving advice to entrepreneurs and startups on a no-frills blog, TheBigAlmanack. He blogs on how to find partners you can trust, how to pitch to a South African angel investor, and why titles are not important.
South Africa’s wireless Internet sector— 200 small companies bringing in combined annual revenues of 700 million rand ($53.43 million)—has grown as a result of unreliable service by fixed-line operators, Knott-Craig Jr told Quartz. He hopes these small companies can come together in time for an April launch of HeroTel.
With Knott-Craig Jr as its chairman, HeroTel has already started building the national Wi-Fi network by acquiring two Western Cape companies, Snowball and Cloudconnect.
“We don’t have to buy every wireless Internet provider in the country to make this work, but we will need a critical mass,” Knott-Craig Jr told Quartz. “Wireless Internet providers will join the HeroTel Alliance, which will work like a franchise, providing them with the benefits to help them generate more revenue.”
HeroTel has some impressive investors including Michael Jordaan, former CEO of FNB, one of South Africa’s largest banks; and Mike Pfaff and Derek Prout-Jones, CEO and CIO of Rand Merchant Bank.
It doesn’t hurt that Knott-Craig Jr is the son of Alan Knott-Craig Sr, former CEO of Vodacom and Cell C. Senior has experience in the Internet business.
Fixed-line connections continue to be a choice for some households and businesses, but mobile broadband is huge and growing in South African Internet connectivity: 41.3 percent of South Africans connect to the Internet through mobile devices including 3G cards and Internet dongle devices — many used at home and work — according to South Africa’s statistical agency, StatsSA, Quartz reports.
Mobile data providers will be not be HeroTel’s competitors, Knott-Craig insists. Fixed-line operators will.
“We’re competing with fixed-line operators: the old-school connect-through-a-copper-line guys… they are at a disadvantage because they charge exorbitant out-of-bundle rates to their customers,” Knott-Craig Jr said.
Demand for fixed-data lines in South Africa seems to be increasing. Telkom—a semi-private national telco which owns 80 percent of South Africa’s fiber network—grew its fixed-line subscribers from 932,000 in March 2014, to over 1 million subscribers in March 2015, according to Quartz.
While Telkom has a monopoly over the fixed-line data business, HeroTel will have the chance to compete directly by being nimble, something the large company struggles with, according to Quartz. By providing better wireless technology than Telkom’s popular ADSL copper line service, HeroTel could be an alternative to fixed-data lines for households and businesses in South Africa.
“I’ve been looking at the way in which some of the most successful start-ups in Silicon Valley are run—lean and mean. I think its time that telcos started to operate like this. You cannot wait for 1 billion rand to make it happen, you just have to get on with it,” Knott-Craig Jr told Quartz.
This blog, entitled “What rental cars taught me about product innovation,” says a lot about Knott-Craig Jr’s character:
“Every time I fly to Jhb I get a new rental. Cheapest car with aircon. I’ve driven the Chevy Spark, Hyundai i10, Datsun, Nissan Micra, Peugeot, Toyota, Ford, all of them.“I’ve noticed that the worse the car, the more innovative the dashboard. For instance, the Peugeot has a truly inventive aircon setup. But it’s also the worst car I’ve driven, ever. Even worse than the Datsun.“Dashboard innovation is inversely proportional to car quality. When I see a clever speedometer I feel a premonition of dread. That’s what happens when the product is shit. People start scrambling for lipstick. If your product is great you don’t need lipstick. A standard dashboard is fine.”
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
|Citizenship as a Weapon: Travel Controls and What You Can Do About It|
|by Nick Giambruno, Senior Editor ||
It’s an extremely potent weapon, yet most are not even aware of its existence.
That is, unless they have been unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of it.
The weapon I’m referring to is travel controls, also known as people controls. It’s the power any government has to limit the ability of its citizens to travel. They do this by restricting the issuance of travel documents like passports.
Any government can use this weapon can at a moment’s notice. It just needs to find a convenient pretext.
Many countries in the past have notoriously turned to people controls. For example, the Soviet Union would routinely revoke the citizenship of its perceived internal enemies.
Recently, look at how the Dominican Republic stripped tens of thousands of people of their citizenship with no due process. Or how the Syrian government previously refused to renew the passports of Syrians abroad whom it suspected of being associated with the opposition. Or how the US government revoked Edward Snowden’s passport with the stroke of a pen. These are but a few of countless examples.
The point here is not to pick good guys and bad guys. The point is that there are many instances throughout history and modern times that prove that you don’t own your own passport or citizenship… the government does. And they use them as a weapon.
If you hold political views that your government doesn’t like, don’t be surprised if they restrict your travel options.
Unfortunately, the situation is getting worse. Over the last couple of years, there have been several attempts to pass a bill that would make it easier for the US government to cancel the passport of anyone accused of owing $50,000 or more in taxes. I suspect that sooner or later Congress will pass this bill.
Fortunately, there is a way to protect yourself from these repressive measures. More on that in a bit, but first let’s look at the most common forms of travel controls.
Different Shapes and Colors
Desperate governments always seek to control money with capital controls and people with travel controls.
Here are the three most common forms of the latter:
1. Soft Travel Controls
These include arbitrary fees and burdensome bureaucratic procedures. These measures amount to unofficial travel controls.
It’s similar to how FATCA works with money. FATCA doesn’t make it illegal to move capital outside of the US. But it achieves the same effect by imposing onerous regulations that can make it impractical.
In the same sense, the government could achieve de facto people controls through deliberately excessive rules and regulations.
2. Migration Controls
Migration controls are official restrictions on the movement of a country’s citizens.
Sometimes governments will put restrictions on certain citizens from leaving the country. This is especially true during times of crisis and for those who have accumulated some savings.
Many people feel that they can simply wait till things get bad and then exit. But it’s likely the politicians will have slammed the door shut by then.
For example, after Castro came to power in Cuba, the government used to make its citizens apply for an exit visa to leave the island. They did not grant it easily.
3. Revoking Citizenship and Passport
This is the most severe form of people and travel controls.
Preventing people from leaving has always been the hallmark of an authoritarian regime. Unfortunately the practice is growing in so-called liberal democracies for ever more trivial offenses.
In the US, for example, the government can cancel your passport if they accuse you of a felony.
Many people think felonies only consist of major crimes like robbery and murder.
But that isn’t true.
The ever-expanding mountain of laws and regulations has criminalized even the most mundane activities. A felony is not as hard to commit as you might think. Many victimless “crimes” are felonies.
A study has found that the average American inadvertently commits three felonies a day.
So, if the US government really wants to cancel your US passport, it can find some technicality to do so… for anyone.
Second Passports - An Antidote to Travel Controls
Here’s what my colleague and the always insightful Jeff Thomas has to say about travel controls:
As a country approaches an economic collapse, a crystal ball is not necessary to predict that, amongst the actions of the government, will be increased currency controls, travel controls, tariffs, and a host of other last-ditch efforts to keep the sheep penned in - to assure their presence for a final shearing.
What remains for the reader to determine, if he is a resident of one of the nations that is presently in decline, is whether he: a) believes that, in the future, his ability to travel internationally may be either restricted or prohibited; and b) whether he should take steps to assure his liberty for the future. If so, it might be wise to do so before he actually has lost his ability to travel.
If you have only one passport, you’re vulnerable to travel controls.
I think it’s absolutely essential to obtain the political diversification benefits of having a second passport. You’ll protect yourself against travel controls. You’ll give yourself peace of mind knowing that you will always have options.
Among other things, having a second passport allows you to invest, bank, travel, reside, and do business in places that you could not before.
More options mean more freedom and opportunity.
I believe obtaining a second passport makes sense no matter what happens.
Unfortunately, getting one isn’t easy. There are no solutions that are at the same time cheap, easy, fast, and legitimate. Worse, there’s a lot of misinformation and bad advice out there that could cause you big problems. It’s essential to have a trusted resource to guide you through the process. That’s where International Man comes in.
You need to know the best countries to obtain a second passport in and exactly how to do it. We cover that in great actionable detail in our Going Globalpublication. Normally, this book retails for $99. But we believe this book is so important, especially right now, that we’ve arranged a way for US residents to get a free copy. Click here to secure your copy.