New virtual media marketplace to make waves

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A new online social and mobile video marketplace is due to be launched soon in South Africa and across the globe. The plan for PublicVine was unveiled yesterday in an intimate media briefing in Johannesburg.

The model is one that could threaten the future of content distribution businesses in their current form such as MultiChoice, which is owned by JSE-listed Naspers, whose main activity is the distribution of content for commercial gain.

PublicVine is expected to execute a soft launch on June 6 and takes the form of a virtual shopping mall where video vendors can launch online and in mobile video stores to rent, allowing them to sell their video content, such as music videos, documentaries and films, to consumers globally.

Unlike its nearest competitors iTunes and Netflix, the distinguishing factor was the opportunity for both vendors and consumers to get paid on PublicVine, its founder, Nam Mokwunye, said yesterday.

A video vendor is any producer, owner or distributor of commercially viable music, videos, documentaries, game shows and reality shows.

But the threshold is that the vendor has to prove a captive audience of 10 000 people who are willing to watch video content online or on a mobile device. When these same consumers invite someone to view the video online they earn a commission.

On paper the venture appears to be an attractive offer, which is backed by entrepreneur Joel R Andersen of Andersen Media fame, which controls 40 percent of the distribution of CDs and DVDs in the US. Andersen in his personal capacity contributed between $5 million (R53m) and $10m investment towards the business.

Mokwunye is an experienced entrepreneur who was raised in Florence, Alabama, where the company is headquartered, and considers himself an African American with a “strong compass about the African continent”. He has previously worked and lived in Africa.

Pick n Pay

Pick n Pay’s chief executive, Richard Brasher, shied away yesterday from the word “happy” when sharing his feelings about his supermarket chain’s improving results yesterday.

He also steered away from the notion that Pick n Pay was gaining market share. But he agreed to utter words such as “pleased” and “satisfied”. Maybe he was playing it safe.

It does seem as though Pick n Pay has got back on its feet and in doing so has made itself visible again. The retailer opened 111 stores in the year, bringing the total store number to 1 076 stores. It plans to open about 100 stores this year.

Brasher shared some of the highlights of Pick n Pay’s year. These included the group’s R1.2 billion in capital expenditure on expansion and improving the shopping experience.

Pick n Pay improved the quality of its fresh and perishable products and pre-packaged convenience ranges.

Its online business has grown by 27 percent, with 2 000 customers being served a week.

Tough decisions were made during this time and Brasher believes it is still a long road ahead. “Encouraging as these results are, I am not satisfied. We have much more to deliver across the business as we seek to win more customers.”

The biggest deliverable for Pick n Pay was to complete its centralisation of buying, which retail analysts have criticised over the years. This process, Pick n Pay said, necessitated tough decisions during the year and resulted in the retrenchment of some head office support staff.

It said this was a difficult time for the business, but the rigorous review of all support structures and processes had enabled Pick n Pay to create a more streamlined and effective support office.

Brasher insisted that the retailer’s strategy going forward would be to “follow the customer”.

He said Pick n Pay was learning to understand its customers, how they lived and what constituted their needs. “Winning more customers and achieving more turnover remains at the heart of our strategy,” he said. page 19

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Asha Speckman and Nompumelelo Magwaza.


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