Media24 turns to foreign experts for digital advice

04 May 2017

Media24, a subsidiary of Naspers, assembled a team of international experts to help it accelerate its transformation to a digital media company with interests in e-commerce and classifieds in South Africa and abroad.

JSE-listed Media24 has interests in newspapers, magazines, digital publishing, printing, distribution, book publishing, e-commerce (fashion site Spree), classifieds (jobs site Careers24), and digital services (OnTheDot, a warehousing and fulfillment business). Careers24 operates in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

The team of experts, known as the Digital Advisory Forum (DAF), has four members – two are senior Naspers managers and two are retired “outsiders”. Together they bring e-commerce, classifieds and digital media expertise from Europe, the U.S. and China to Media24.

Sverre Munck, chair of the new DAF at Media24 (photo from his LinkedIn page with thanks)

Pat Kolek (LinkedIn), and Evelyn Chan (LinkedIn) are Naspers managers, while Yasmin Namini, and Sverre Munck retired recently from the New York Times (NYT) and Schibsted respectively. Munck is chairman of the DAF.

In H1 of FY2016/17 the trading profit of Media24 dropped 21 percent to R171 million ($13 million U.S.) from R217 million in H1 of FY2015/16, due to declining revenue from the print media businesses. This might have been a wake-up call for the board and management.

Rachel Jafta, the chair of the Media24 board, told Fin24 (here): “ … the Media24 board and management have recognized the need to learn from international experts. Hence, the creation of the DAF”.  

Media24 wants to accelerate its digital transformation. But, without turning its back on its publishing background. So, it is opting for the balancing act between media and e-commerce, much in the way Germany’s Axel Springer and Norway’s Schibsted are doing it.   

Media24 CEO Esmaré Weideman explained the 2-pronged strategy as follows: “ … the print media portfolio will remain core” to the transformed company. At the same time, the company will “focus fully” on its digital media assets … . 

“We have our eyes on the future, and we aim to be one of … the handful of print media companies worldwide to flourish in the digital space … . The DAF, with its impressive, collective digital and e-commerce experience, will accelerate our execution on that ambition,” Weideman said.

About the members

At Schibsted Media Group, Munck was a driving force behind the transformation of Schibsted into a global media and internet giant. He spearheaded the company’s successful migration to online classifieds, which started with European websites such as Compraventa.com, and Leboncoin.fr. 

Yasmin Namini, from New York Times to Media24’s new DAF (photo from her LinkedIn page with thanks)

Namini was instrumental in the conceptualization and implementation of the NYT’s paywall strategy. She recently retired as senior vice-president and chief consumer officer of the NYT, with overall responsibility for print and digital subscription revenue and the data and customer insights teams.

Kolek is chief operating officer (COO) of Naspers and has more than 20 years’ experience in executing business growth and development strategies for hyper-growth companies. Before joining Naspers, he spent ten years at EBay, most recently as vice-president and CFO of EBay International and previously as the COO of EBay Classifieds.

Chan, an expert on the tech and internet industries in China, has more than ten years’ experience in investment banking and hedge funds and is currently Naspers director of exploration based in Hong Kong. She provides insights into the China tech and internet industries throughout the Naspers group and will join the team later in 2017.

Share

Christo Volschenk

Christo Volschenk is managing editor of the news on Aimgroup.com and our senior analyst covering Naspers. He brings more than 31 years of experience in business journalism to the team - the last 18 years focused on classifieds and e-commerce. Apart from working closely with the AIM Group, Christo is a freelance journalist, content manager, and copy editor. Before branching out on his own, he spent 15 years with Naspers in South Africa as journalist, economics editor and online project manager. He now spends most his day editing the news reported by 23 colleagues in 23 countries from his base in Stuttgart, Germany.