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 (http://www.groupon.com) announces the launch of Groupon India, Groupon Israel and Groupon South Africa via acquisition of daily deal sites SoSasta (http://www.sosasta.com), Grouper (http://www.grouper.co.il) and Twangoo (http://www.twangoo.co.za), 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:

- groupon.co.za 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 Groupon.com.au 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 groupon.co.za or will they simply put cash on the table and possibly buy the whole Wicount business ending up with two local companies?

groupon.co.za 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 mycitydeal.co.za. They use that rather lenghty and generic domain, as the groupon.co.za 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:

mycitydeal.co.za 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)mycitydeal.co.za

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 citydeal.de 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 Travelstart.co.za 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 3Gstore.de 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 sight.google-multilingual

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 weather.co.za 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 weather.co.za 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 weather.co.za 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

new logo for fliks

June 2, 2009

flikslogoAs our old company logo (as seen on the left) needed a redesign we just started a competition on logotournament.com where we got 91 Entries until today. While we don't like all of them, we were pleasantly surprised by many of the others and would like to hear your feedback and suggestions on them.

Copy of our brief:

Company Name:
Fliks
Slogan:
What We Do:
We are an internet company creating, operating and marketing own, mostly community-based, web projects.
Our Industry:
Internet
Formats Accepted
.EPS only
Top Three Things to Communicate through our Logo:
#1 - Passion for internet projects
#2 - Internal unity
#3 - We're skilled and always strive for the technological lead
Our Target Audience:
Internet experts looking for the guys running this cool site/service.
Styles that we are interested in:
Wordmark
A wordmark consists of the company name in a stylized type and may include small asbstract or pictorial elements. Famous examples include:
Pictoral Mark
A pictorial mark uses literal or representative imagery to symbolize the brand. Famous examples include:
undefined

Please note that the above brands are in no way, shape, or form associated with LogoTournament. They are cited as examples under Fair Use for the enrichment of the general public's knowledge of the graphic arts.

Color Preferences:
Our company color is a bright red (RAL 3020, CMYK 0, 100, 100, 10) which should at least appear in the logo. Contrasting colours could be white, grey and/or black tones.
Our Ideas and Additional Information:
Our Ideas and additional information: Fliks has two divisions: "Fliks GmbH" in Germany, "GmbH meaning the kind of legal entity of our company in Germany. In South Africa, its "Fliks Media (Pty) Ltd." Fliks is a company that has very few customers and whose projects do mostly have their own branding/logo. Therefore, the fliks logo represents our company itself alone. The logo will appear on the web mostly on contact information pages, offline on businesscards and letters. Therefore it should be readable in small sizes, too. "Fliks" is a made up word resembling the german words "flink" or "fix", wich associates to "quick", "alert", "fast". Therefore the logo should represent a dynamic, fast acting, leading company in a rapidly developing IT/mediabased business field, competence as well als open-mindedness. Internally, it also should stand for our unity/community/alliance. Our core competences are SEO, Community Management, Web2.0, PHP/MySQL. We're hosting optimized, high traffic websites like the redirector service anonym.to as well as specialist (news)sites like the german mac magazine macnotes.de. As recognized by the company names, we also operate international the non-virtual way in germany as well as in south africa. Finally, we're in the internet business for more than 10 years now, therefore we don't want to be associated with new startups from the web2.0-boom. Ideas and recent logos: We always used "brackets" or symbols reminding brackets in our recent logos, symbolizing internal unity. Recent logo: visible on http://www.fliks.com Very old logo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21075605@N00/3561930285/

fliks-logos

You know that a company loses touch with reality, when it sues companies selling its own products.

Apple iPhone 3G3Gstore.de is a german online store selling the iPhone 3G without the usual Simlock or T-Mobile contract. They can do so legally, as they import the iPhones from other EU countries where the unlocked iPhones are sold to the public for prepaid customers. Therefore it's only obvious that they use Apple's official promotional pictures to sell the popular Apple gadget. Without any warning Apple sent 3Gstore.de a Cease and Desist letter, disallowing any future use of Apple product images and a 1780 Euro (2271 US$) bill attached for legal cost. Asked by german mac magazine Macnotes.de if other sites using their image material can expect similar costly C&D 'treatment', Apple Inc. only referred to their Image Use Agreement that disallows all image editing and usage in any commercial context, such as competitions or other non-editorial appearances.

To free itself and other blogs or websites from the risk of receiving such a hefty bill by Apple Inc., 3Gstore.de paid Photographer Lukas Palik to create professional looking iPhone 3G photos that are now also being licensed under the very liberal Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, allowing editing and commercial usage. These Photos can be downloaded in the original Resolution from the 3Gstore.de Blog and on Flickr.

Alexa seriously tries do defend Google's recent data publishing attack (releasing Trends for Websites and Insights for Search) and stumbled across this ad on alexa.com:

The linked download is quite impressive. Not only the Top 500 (or country-based Top 100), but the top 1 million trafficked sites by Alexa ranking is now available for download (top-1m.csv.zip 9,5 MB Zipfile, ausgepackt 21,4 MB) and it appears to be recent data too (November 24th says the file-timestamp). This list would set you back 2500 US$ via Amazon's Web Services and unlucky you are only if you recently bought it or you work with MS Excel 2003 where you're limited to the first 65536 Entries...

Some observations about the content: Subdomains from wordpress.com, blogspot.com, blog.br, blogs.com and others are now counted seperately. While this might be old news to some I just observed it today as well as the fact that they do also seperately track it when your folder-structure contains a ~username (old UNIX standard used at some universities) or my.domain.tld/user/name. This also causes some errors, assome Domains using Feedburner MyBrand appear in the stats with their feeds.domain.tld/~r/ redirect URLs.

Beside these minor flaws just a sincere Thank You to the Alexa Team for this early christmas present :-)

Also see my original german post about this christmas present from Alexa.