Six tech industry divorces in 2012

The tech and telecoms space in South Africa has seen many executives come and go in 2012 – but some exits came as a big surprise, leaving many industry players scrambling.

Whether it’s a departure after a few months or an exit surrounded by rumour and speculation – these are some of the most surprising executive shifts of 2012:

Jeffrey Hedberg
Jeffrey Hedberg

Jeffrey Hedberg – Altech

Altech’s group COO, Jeffrey Hedberg, resigned from the listed technology group at the end of January 2012, having spent only 9 months at the company.

Hedberg had been appointed to manage the group’s under-performing East African operations in April 2011, and was formerly the acting CEO of Telkom (TKG).

According to Altech CEO, Craig Venter who took over Hedberg’s responsibilities, Hedberg had decided to pursue his career outside of the Altech Group.

Rudi Jansen
Rudi Jansen

Rudi Jansen – MWeb

On 10 January, Rudi Jansen, former group CEO of MWeb, resigned after 15 years of working at the company. Jansen left the company at the end of February 2012.

The move was a surprise to many as Jansen was one of MWeb’s first employees, having joined the company as head of finance in 1997, before rising to CEO in 2005.

During that time, Jansen led MWeb to become one of South Africa’s biggest ISPs. Jansen is currently a director at My Cloud Media, actively seeking for new media and technology investments, while in the process of establishing a new business venture.

Deon Liebenberg

Deon Liebenburg – Samsung, Telkom

In July, Deon Liebenberg announced that he was resigning as Samsung SA’s managing director after only a year in the position, and subsequently took up the position as head of Telkom Business Mobile.

In a surprising move, following drastic restructuring at Telkom, Liebenberg again quit his post as Telkom Business Mobile MD, this time after only four months at the company.

Liebenberg is set to hop over to Vodacom, starting in February 2013, though it is not yet clear what his new title would be.

Samsung SA did not replace Liebenberg’s title position, but rather created the position of deputy managing director, which is currently held by Mike Thackarah.

Pinky Moholi

Pinky Moholi – Telkom

Telkom has experienced a late shuffling of executives, with the announcement that CEO, Pinky Moholi, would be resigning from the company.

Telkom announced on 5 November that its chief executive officer planned to step down before the end of her contract period.

Moholi’s decision to quit came amid rumours of a rift between her and government.

In October, government, which has a 39.8% stake in Telkom, blocked the appointments of four directors at the group’s AGM. Former Telkom chairperson Lazarus Zim, Julia Hope and Jackie Huntley all stepped down from the group’s board.

Pieter Uys
Pieter Uys

Pieter Uys – Vodacom

Vodacom has seen some big changes this year with the surprise announcement in June that CEO, Pieter Uys would be stepping down from the group.

Uys was appointed Vodacom Group chief executive in 2008 – taking over from current Cell C CEO, Alan Knott-Craig – and led Vodacom’s debut listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

While a surprise to the industry, Uys maintained that it wasn’t out of the blue, saying that when he was appointed as CEO, he always knew that he would be in that position for three to five years, before he had to change.

On 1 September, Vodafone Spain CEO, Shameel Joosub took over the reins as Vodacom’s CEO.

Alan Knott-Craig Jnr
Alan Knott-Craig Jnr

Alan Knott Craig Jnr – Mxit

In a rather sudden move, in November, Alan Knott-Craig Jnr stepped down as Mxit CEO as well as the head of parent company, World of Avatar.

In leaving, a difference in strategy with the company’s shareholders was cited as the reason – though the main conflict seemed to have been between Knott-Craig and one of the company’s largest shareholders, Paul Harris.

According to two independent sources Knott-Craig’s performance was at the centre of the conflict between Mxit CEO and Harris.

Following Knott-Craig’s departure, Mxit is currently in the process of retrenching as many as 40 of it’s 250 employees.

Related articles

Alan Knott-Craig Jnr leaves Mxit

Altech and Hedberg part ways

Leadership change at Vodacom

Liebenberg quits Telkom after 4 months

Telkom CEO to step down

Rudi Jansen resigns from MWEB

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Six tech industry divorces in 2012