Instant messaging service Mxit is the best Web application ever to be created in Africa, according to Alan Knott-Craig.
Knott-Craig previously headed up wireless provider iBurst and mobile social network Mxit.
But Knott-Craig — who is the son of ex-Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig — quit as Mxit and World of Avatar CEO in October 2012 amid differences with shareholders.
World of Avatar bought a 90% stake in Stellenbosch-based Mxit in 2011 from MIH Holdings, a Naspers subsidiary, and Mxit founder Herman Heunis.
“I must be honest, firstly, Mxit is the most successful Web application to ever come out of the continent of Africa,” Knott-Craig said. “It’s something that all South Africans should be proud of; we were very lucky to get our hands on it.”
Knott-Craig’s high praise for Mxit comes as the instant messaging service has struggled to compete against US rival WhatsApp.
Last year, Mxit said it had 4,9m users — a fall from 6,5m in 2013.
According to World Wide Worx and Fuseware, WhatsApp has 10m users in SA.
Despite only heading up Mxit for a year, Knott-Craig said that he believed the “path that we were travelling was a good path”.
“I wish I had a little bit more time to give it a go and kind of prove to myself that South Africans had the ability to compete with the likes of WhatsApp.
“But in effect I believe Mxit was WeChat and WeChat found a way to compete with the big American giants — it wasn’t squashed,” said Knott-Craig.
Knott-Craig now heads up non-profit Wi-Fi service Project Isizwe and this week announced plans to launch a data-only network dubbed HeroTel in 2016. — Fin24