Duarte da Silva on the pioneering days of South African IT - TechCentral

Duarte da Silva on the pioneering days of South African IT

Duarte da Silva

Businessman, entrepreneur, deal maker and advisor Duarte da Silva joins Duncan McLeod on the TechCentral podcast for a wide-ranging discussion about South Africa’s IT industry, with a specific focus on Dimension Data.

Da Silva recently posted a heartfelt tribute on LinkedIn to Jeremy Ord, Dimension Data’s co-founder, who resigned last month as executive chairman after 34 years. The post has since gone somewhat viral.

Watch the podcast below…

In the podcast, Da Silva talks about his days as a director and analyst at Merrill Lynch, where he covered Dimension Data and companies such as Persetel (headed at the time by Roux Marnitz), Q Data (the late Piet den Boer) and Altron (Bill Venter).

Da Silva recalls some of the colourful characters at the time and how they helped shape South Africa’s early IT industry – and why the country, curiously, was the only one in the world where Japan’s Hitachi has a bigger share in mainframes than IBM. (Hint: It had to do with sanctions and Marnitz’s love of aviation.)

He also talks about his first encounter with Ord, how Dimension Data attracted and cultivated top leaders – including Richard Came, David Frankel, Alon Apteker, Malcolm Rutherford and many others – who went on to great business success – and recounts a tale about a greulling, three-week investor road show in the US.

The conversation then turns to the dot-com bust of 2000, how a US acquisition at the peak of the dot-com bubble severely hobbled Dimension Data and how the shifting sands of the IT sector – and a greater appreciation for technology among business leaders – led to tough years for the group.

Da Silva, who now serves as chairman of Huge Group, also touches on Huge’s pursuit of Adapt IT, why he’s enjoying being back in the IT sector and what he plans to do in the coming years.

Don’t miss this riveting discussion!

Watch the video

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