Alec Hogg: Why I resigned – and the next moves

Alec Hogg, founder and CEO of Alt-X listed media group Moneyweb, on Thursday (25 October) announced his rather sudden resignation as an executive director of the company.

In an acrimonious rant on his blog, alechogg.com, he explains the reason for his departure:

I’m going to need a new iPhone. And keyboard. At least it feels it. They’ve been in overdrive these past few days as so many people have reached out. It’s part of the human condition to desire appreciation. Being told you’ve made a difference is the surest remedy for self-pity. Thanks for getting me over myself.

Apologies in advance for not responding individually. Jet and I are in Cape Town with dear friends. I was supposed to be working today, Monday and Tuesday. Helping to get Moneyweb’s revenue kick-started after ending a five year relationship with the outsourced sales house. Those meetings have been cancelled. And as I won’t become the ultimate wet-blanket, my time on the laptop and the phone is restricted.

After this note I intend joining the gang. OK, so it’s mass communication. Apologies again. But if God didn’t want us to use the Internet, he wouldn’t have inspired Tim Berners-Lee in the first place.

So here goes:

Why did you leave Moneyweb?
Earlier this week, Clark Kent left the Daily Planet. Last week Alan Knott-Craig Jnr left Mxit. Both had serious differences of opinion with people who have deeper pockets. It happens. My decision was similar. Superman walked away after decades at his newspaper. I only started Moneyweb 15 years ago.

How did it happen so quickly?
It became clear in the past month that Caxton and I have different values. My service agreement carried a year’s notice period. So I told notice Moneyweb chairman Paul Jenkins last week I intended leaving in October 2013. My counter offer was for Caxton to sell back its shares in Moneyweb and for its directors to resign off the board. Caxton refused on both counts. Then the lawyers got together and on Monday afternoon I cleared my desk.

And what about the Moneyweb staff?

We gathered after the lawyers called on Monday. I tried to explain as best I could. We’re a close knit unit. It was an emotional occasion. But Caxton acted quickly and the next day Paul Jenkins moved into the offices as the temporary CEO. He brought in Sandra Gordon to work on sales. Sandra has already moved into my old office. We had breakfast with Sandra last Thursday to celebrate my birthday. Surreal.

Will you still be broadcasting on SAFM?

I’m on a year’s “gardening leave”. That means I will be paid my monthly salary until October 2013 provided I do not compete with Moneyweb. Doing anything to jeopardise the company’s relationship with SAFM would break our agreement. So, no, I won’t be back on SAFM. Or any other competing radio station for that matter.

What about going back into television?

Moneyweb has no presence in television.

And websites – will you create a new Moneyweb?

Doing so right now would be crazy. I still own 12% of the business so harming it would be like cutting myself. Also, the agreement is specific. The world is full of opportunities. Why go fish in a pool where you’re temporarily banned? Especially when there are much bigger fish in other pools?

So what exactly will you be doing next week, next month?

I love talking to groups about perspective on the economy, how the world is changing and how it affects us personally. There’s always been more demand for this service than the time I’ve been able to give. So I’ll be accepting more of those offers. And it pays well. I’ve also not invested in stocks for years because, being a journalist, there’s an obvious conflict of interest. That’s changed. In between I’ll be polishing my Zulu and learning French. And perhaps even getting back onto the golf course.

Will you be holding onto your Moneyweb shares?

Ironically, the share price will probably do a lot better in the short-term. Big corporations like to prove their point. So Caxton is likely to do what it takes to drive the Moneyweb stock higher. There is no harm in staying along for the ride. On the other hand, there is no restriction on my selling. So if someone came along with a good offer…………

How are you feeling about all this?

It took long enough for me to have progressed through the first three emotional stages of major change. I’m past Anger and Rejection and now at Acceptance. The Commitment stage will come. An old friend and successful tech pioneer Derek Kreunen sent me a reminder yesterday of Steve Jobs’s Stanford Commencement Speech. We can’t connect the dots going forward, but need to have faith that looking back, they do connect. If there’s one thing I do have it’s Faith. A deep belief that God has a Plan for each of us, and if we leave it to him, the Plan works quicker and better. I’m trying hard to get out of the way.

What have you learnt from this?

  • Always keep 50% plus one share in a company you start.
  • Listen to your gut and to people you trust, even if it is against your short-term desires.
  • Don’t assume your values are shared universally.
  • Be grateful for the time you have with smart, honest, hard-working colleagues. Moneyweb has them in bucket loads.
  • Memories are short. Moneyweb traded profitably in every year I ran it from inception in 1997 to handing over to Andrew Smith in 2009. We were back in profit during the September quarter. New challenges have emerged but my plans would have taken us back into the black in the year to June 2013.
  • Again from Jobs: “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”

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Alec Hogg: Why I resigned – and the next moves