Alan Knott-Craig has resigned as CEO of Stellenbosch-based social networking and instant-messaging service Mxit after disagreeing over strategy with major shareholders in the company, who include former FirstRand executives Paul Harris and GT Ferreira.
Mxit is 90% owned by World of Avatar, whose significant shareholders are the “family interests” of Harris, FirstRand’s former CEO, and Ferreira, the financial services giant’s former chairman. Meanwhile, Cape Town-based technology news website Memeburn is reporting that Knott-Craig has also stepped down as head of World of Avatar, which he had founded.
Knott-Craig’s decision to quit follows a move by the shareholders to invest R100m into Mxit to fund the expansion of the business.
Company insiders say the shareholders wanted someone with a different management style to lead the company. “They wanted someone who was a little more structured,” one insider says. “Alan is quite unstructured in the way he does things.”
World of Avatar bought its controlling 90% stake in Mxit from media group Naspers and from the service’s founder, Herman Heunis, just over a year ago. The value of the deal was not disclosed.
“While the shareholders and I share the same vision, we differ on how to get there,” Knott-Craig says in a statement. “Therefore, I agreed to go my own way. I wish them all the best for the future. Mxit is Africa’s biggest tech success story, and can be a global success story.”
Knott-Craig, who is the son of Cell C’s CEO — the pair share a name — said in the statement that he would not be drawn further on the issue.
Mxit chief financial officer Francois Swart will act as interim CEO until a permanent replacement has been found. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media
- See also: One year to get it right, says Mxit boss (published in February 2012)