German blog: nach Bieterkampf für €135.000 verkauft

This news was supposed to break with a (german languaged) press release by Sedo, but as a domainer blog broke the news I don’t want to be quiet: The iPhone store that I started in 2008 was sold to Avazu group’s Teebik Inc for 135.000 € (ca. 180.000 US$) through the broker house Sedo.

The blog was saying we sold only a domain name, but it was all the existing assets of the former GmbH. We even opened the worlds first iphone only brick and mortar store here in Germany and generated a turnover of more than 15 million Euro in total. still has more than 2000 unique daily visitors and transaction, even though we announced the sale and shut down two months ago. In short: we didn’t sell a domain name, but a whole online shop / brand / business with a complete domain-portfolio (, generic and typo-domains) organic search traffic and lots of customers that are eager to return and order again…

There are lots of stories about all the successes and failures I experienced in the last three years, but I can honestly say: it was an awesome experiencing to start an e-commerce business from scratch, learn ALL aspects of starting and growing  an online business from zero to 1 million € monthly turnover and I’ll be glad if the next three years have a bit less excitement for me…

People who know me, know that I’m 1. into domain names (owning quite some them, not only, (fly-) and 🙂 and 2. into stats so I wanted to share some findings that I found to be pretty interesting.

Previous stats on SA webhosting marketshare had a serious flaw: it covered only 70,000 COM, NET, ORG, BIZ, INFO domains, that were hosted in South Africa while my research covers all 643,453 domain names, that are registered as of June 1st, 2011. My research does also include domains hosted overseas, as many clients avoid local companies and use cheap international webhosting companies with unlimited bandwidth offerings.

See the 50 biggest domain hosting Companies: webhosting companies

I published the full list of the 50 biggest domain hosting companies / nameservers on and I intend to update it regularly.

Methodology: This research is based on the number of domains registered to your nameservers. If you are a reseller or you are using someone elses nameservers I have no way of finding out about you. While my research covered the 100 most frequently used nameservers, I might have missed some nameservers from companies whose aggregated numbers would’ve made it to the list. I found companies with up to five nameserver-sets but I can’t guarantee completeness of my current list. I ask companies or clients who notice that there’s a discrepancy to their own count that you contact me and I’ll update the data ASAP.

Update from 2014: Since writing these blogposts on angel investments in South Africa in 2008 and 2011 I became an advisor and Angel Investor at Startup-Incubator Springlab. Please pitch your startup to Springlab, if you’re looking for hands on investors and advice!

Original post from 2011: I first wrote about Angel Investments in South Africa back in 2008 and I’m happy to see that there’s now a local movement starting, that’s based in Cape Town.

Craig Mullett from Branison Group LLCThrough Alex Fraser and Roger Norton from the awesome Silicon Cape initiative I received an invitation to an Angel Groups seminar by Craig Mullett from the Branison Group at the UCT Graduate School of Business in Cape Town. The seminar focused on the research topic of bridging the missing middle in entrepreneurial finance in South Africa through developing angel investor networks. It gave an overview of the research on how these groups work in the USA as well as research ideas on how this could be done in South Africa and I’m happy that I was given permission to publish it here on my blog:

Angel groups in South Africa (PDF Download)

To my knowledge, this was scheduled to released on Friday, but Groupon Inc. just issued this press release, where they announce:

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Groupon ( announces the launch of Groupon India, Groupon Israel and Groupon South Africa via acquisition of daily deal sites SoSasta (, Grouper ( and Twangoo (, respectively. Terms of the deals were not disclosed. […]
The acquisitions continue Groupon’s rapid global growth and extend its reach across India, the Middle East and South Africa. In just three months since launch, SoSasta has grown to run daily deals in 11 Indian cities. Serving Tel Aviv and surrounding cities since March 2010, Grouper is widely recognized as the first and largest deal site in Israel. Twangoo has rapidly grown to serve the most cities of any deal site in South Africa. All three sites will transition to the Groupon brand name and site design in coming months, and will serve deals in the local communities’ primary languages: English in India and South Africa and Hebrew in Israel.

To my best knowledge my blog post “Groupon to launch in South Africa in cooperation with Twangoo” dated December 17th was the first public posting about the Twangoo/Groupon connection and I got quite some interesting follow-up conversation with industry people that indicated the takeover deal that was finally announced today.

Groupon South Africa now looks at a launch from a market leader position, but they might face special problems, they yet have to solve: is currently owned by competiting dailydeal-site wicount and they might face the same problem they’re currently facing in Australia: they offered the local domain owners “about $286,000 for the domain and trademark” but only got a counter-offer to buy the whole competing business in a package deal. Now that Groupon was stupid enough to publicly value their own brand-typo-domain, I’m interested to hear what might happen if Wicount goes the same route. Will Groupon go to court about the very essential domain name or will they simply put cash on the table and possibly buy the whole Wicount business ending up with two local companies? whois

As the whole startup world is going crazy over Groupon and it’s alleged 6 billion $ (US, not Zimbabwean!) offer from Google, I just want to look onto the tiny South African market, where it looks like Group-buying ‘Giant’ Groupon is about to launch under the domain name They use that rather lenghty and generic domain, as the domain, seems to be registered by Competitor WiiCount.

The launch of Groupon in South Africa was to be expected, as there are currently many Groupon clones starting up on the South African market. While the whole technology is operated by Groupon Europe GmbH out of Berlin, there is one surprise to be found: is a service of:
Groupon South Africa
office at Boulevard Office Park, Block G, Ground Floor
Searle Street, Woodstock
Cape Town 8001

Phone: 0844 879 2888
e-mail: info(at)

Director: Christopher Muhr

Responsible for the content of this website: Twangoo South Africa PTY Ltd.

groupon mycitydeal south africaGroupon seems to cooperate with one of their clones when it comes to the sales side of operations instead of setting up their own local sales force: To me this is somehow surprising, as Twangoo (part of a group of global groupon clones) is a direct competitor to Groupon in the South African market and I wonder who’s going to get the better deals or if both platforms will see identical deals every day… Maybe this is also a sign that Groupon and Groupon Europe (that started as and were just aquired by Groupon a few months ago) are getting closer to other clones and think about aquiring Twangoo soon?

Just some thoughts for clarity: Do you really think Groupon is a viable business model and yet another clone is going to succeed? Livingsocial CEO clarifies the real cost of building your own Dailydeal site in this video and I think that a quick exit may be the only really profitable way out. But seeing that Google did NOT buy Groupon (and I highly doubt that 6 billion was ever offered by them!) there may be less options than you hope there are…

There are many group buying sites that were started in the last few months in South Africa. I don’t think that many of them will be live a few months down the road…

It was this morning that I read via bradley on twitter that a Whale was currently removed from the Sea Point promenade. I was on the scene a few minutes later and could shoot the following incredible photos:

dead whale in Cape Town

I spoke to an officer in charge and he told me the whale is a Southern right whale, weighting ‘only’ 15 tons and he had between 9-10 meters in length, before he broke into three pieces when they initially tried lifting him out of the water. The whale was dead for a couple of days already, which you could certainly smell, when you were close as we were…

Great news for Stephan Ekbergh and for South African entrepreneurs hoping to make it big! My Friend Pip just found this story: eTRAVELi acquires the european arm of their competitor Travelstart – this adds just another success story to serial entrepreneur Stephan Ekberghs biography. While Travelstart had sales of approximately ZAR 1.5 billion in Europe during 2009 eTRAVELi and Travelstart together are now expected to sell 5 billion (Rand and Swedish kronor are nearly on par) worth of travel in 2010. The sales price is not disclosed, but Stephan blogs about his motivation to sell the european operation on his personal blog and that he wants to completely concentrate on the emerging markets and he realised that he had to let go of the european arm of his ‘baby’.

Reportedly brokering 50,000 flight bookings a month on the South African Travelstart platform alone, Travelstart is a travel giant on the tiny e-commerce market of South Africa and I do seriously hope that this is not the last positive news we hear from this travel powerhouse, operating from Cape Town.

Update: after receiving confirmation and further details from Stephan via this comment, I rewrote the posting and clarified the separation between Travelstart Europe and Travelstart South Africa. Official confirmation can be found on the Travelstart blog where they confirm: “The deal means that will own the rights to the global Travelstart brand, and that eTraveli takes over the European brand management and all its operations there.”

We started selling the iPhones in our exactly one year ago and we quickly became the leading store on the german internet. Now it’s time to go offline and become the first iPhone store worldwide to sell them in a brick-and-mortar Store in Bochum, Germany in the middle of the industrial Ruhr Area (Ruhrgebiet). We hope to continue the success story we started online and become the store for all iPhone lovers in Germany.

3gstore-coming-soon-day3gstore iphone shop bochum

I write this in my english blog rather than my german one first, because Theappleblog did scoop the story today and wrote:

On offer will be 3G and 3GS iPhones, contract free and officially sim-unlocked. Customers who buy these devices can then sign up for a service plan with the provider of their choice — either O2, Vodafone, or ePlus, in addition to T-Mobile.For us here in North America, it sounds like some fantastic dream… imagine the freedom, the sheer public nature of it all. Right there in the open, no jailbreak, no shady independent electronics retailer offering unlocking services on Craigslist.

This is exactly what 3Gstore brought to the german online world and is now bringing to a store next to you. We are certain that this is going to change the mobile industry in Germany that is currently bound to exclusivity contracts effectively stopping fair competition. iPhone who were forced to sign up with T-Mobile whatever their home network was are now able to choose the network of their choice, thanks to 3Gstore.

Google’s approach of rolling out their technology gradually throughout the world showed great success when conquering western markets and seemed to work OK for africa aswell. No other search engine had it’s user interface translated to Zulu, Afrikaans and Xhosa years before they opened an office in South Africa or any other African country and still today there’s no competition within

Back in the very early Google years using voluntary user contributions with their Google in your Language service and is constantly adding new languages. But there seemed to be weak spots where Google was not able to roll out it’s infrastructure on a global level in other fields, because they involve too much professional local knowledge and infrastructure and this is where I was delighted to see some real progress in the last months:

Google Mapmaker allows people to edit and contribute to maps in countries where no professional map making company has gone before. The (infrastructural and marketing) power that honorable open source map projects like openstreetmap did not have meets usability and the result is great map data for all countries in Africa.

Today there was now the big news (via TC): Google launches SMS based services for the ugandan internet community. Some of these services like Google Trader (think of Craigslist/gumtree/kijiji simplified and via SMS only) are build exclusively for Google Africa and I’m sure we’ll see them rolled out and succeed in many african markets soon. The initiative carries the Google logo, but was initiatiated by the Grameen Foundation and MTN and they describe it as:

“The suite of five mobile services, provided using Google SMS Search technology and the MTN network, includes Farmer’s Friend, a searchable database with both agricultural advice and targeted weather forecasts; Health Tips which provides sexual and reproductive health information, paired with Clinic Finder, which helps to locate nearby health clinics and services; and Google Trader, which matches buyers and sellers of agricultural produce and commodities as well as other products. The services are SMS-based and designed to work with basic mobile phones to reach the broadest possible audience.”

My personal perspective is that education driven by technology is going to be the THE MAIN source of development in Africa and I love seeing google use it’s market power to help development to those who need it most. I’m looking for ways how I can personally contribute my knowledge to efficient projects in this area and I urge anyone with the killer idea how to bring knowledge to Africa to share his ideas… Not only this video shows that it’s going to be the mobile phone that’s going to bring development to Africa:

Weather in Cape TownIt’s along time since we last updated anything on but today I’m happy to add the most-requested feature:

Weather widgets are here! You can finally add a button to your homepage with the weather forecast for tomorrow. This means that your visitors don’t need to visit anymore to see but stay on your site. You can add this image to any site you wish and we offer you three different versions (Image, PHP and Javascript). While we strive to add customization (color, size and style) in the future, we settled for one default style for now that is very simple and does not add any logo or advertisement to the weather information. The image on the left is actually just the life forecast that you can add to your homepage or blog right now!

That is not everything yet – you can also add data to your iGoogle homepage. Just click on this button and you’ll be taken to your Google homepage where you can customize your weather feed: Add to Google