Filling the missing middle

Naspers has set aside $100 million to support the development of South African tech innovation. But just what is Naspers Foundry? And how will it impact the local venture capital space?

29 November 2019

What started as a publishing company in the Western Cape in 1915, the Naspers of today is a very different beast. Listed alongside Amazon, Google and Facebook, it’s one of the world’s top 10 international consumer internet companies, based on market capitalisation – in fact, it’s listed twice in that ranking, but we’ll come to that later. While most of its ‘top 10’ peers are known to offer internet-based services under their own brand, such as Netflix and Alibaba, Naspers stands out as being the only true investor.

In recent years, Naspers’ presence on the JSE was so significant, that if it sneezed, most of the stock exchange’s investors got sick. Key to that success, of course, was the $32 million investment in China’s Tencent in 2001. Today, Tencent is ranked fifth of the top 10 consumer internet firms, with a market cap of $400 billion. This stellar investment, along with a number of others, has propelled the holding company in a direction that has resulted in its focus moving from media house, having disposed of $6 billion of non-core assets as well as the $3.5 billion unbundling of MultiChoice in recent months, to becoming a leading global internet investor.

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