Feb 17 2009

Johann gives Vinny a lot more dough

Published by at 10:13 pm under Companies,Top Stories

The life of an online journalist sure is easy. I just received this “open letter” to the (roughly) one million registered users of the website Synthasite in my in-box. It came from the Synthasite boss Vinny Lingham. I publish his e-mail in full.

To read what Synthasite is about and get an idea why Johann Rupert gets so fired up about it, go here

Here Vinny’s announcement (and you thought Johann wasn’t into the internet!): 

Today, I’m proud to announce that Reinet Fund has just invested $20 million into SynthaSite, securing our future and enabling us to continue to build our business model and product offering.  This is a massive vote of confidence in SynthaSite, and we owe it to each and every one of you.  Our future is bright and, with your support, we will continue to make a difference in the world!

When we began building SynthaSite, we sought to create a company whose product would change the lives of millions of people by giving them a voice online.  We wanted to provide the opportunity for anyone anywhere to build a website that would achieve their unique goals, from starting a small business to showcasing their achievements.

In 2007, we raised $5 million** in venture capital and moved our headquarters to San Francisco, keeping a good portion of our technical team in Cape Town, South Africa.  Since then, SynthaSite has grown from just a handful of people to more than 40 individuals in both offices, supporting over one million users.  Our support forum is one of the most active on GetSatisfaction’s network, and our recent “Best of SynthaSite” contest attracted more than 1,000 entrants.  This level of success could only be achieved thanks to the dedication of both our user community and our staff.

I’m unbelievably excited about the future of SynthaSite and look forward to building on our success in helping you and many others reach their potential online.  These past 15 months have just been the beginning…

Thank you for all your support.

Vinny Lingham

Founder and CEO

** I think a big part of that $5 million, if not all, also came from Johann. 

PS. If I must compare this $25 million investment into Synthasite with Naspers’ investment of (more or less the same amount) in Buzzcity and Nimbuzz, then I must unfortunately say, I think Naspers made the better choices. (OK, I know they should – with all the “excercise” they’ve had with this kind of thing since 1998!) In fact, I think Naspers saddled up two good horses. As for Johann’s bet…I’m not sure about the horse, but no-one can fault Johann’s choice of jockey.

Vinny was nominated by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as a Young Global Leader.  

See what he has to say about his business model (income sources). 

On the Reinet Fund website, one can read all about the fund’s investment strategy (summarised in three short sentences). Here is the last of the three: Whilst Reinet may invest in broadly defined investment opportunities, the emphasis will at all times be on the protection of shareholders’ capital.

I wonder whether the Synthasite investment satisfies that requirement…

And on the home page, this statement by Johann Rupert as Executive chairman of Reinet Investments SCA:

Our goal is for Reinet to provide shareholders with an investment vehicle which will manage their funds in a conservative manner, protecting capital whilst aiming to achieve growth over the long-term.

I wonder whether one can call investing in a startup internet company “conservative”…

One response so far

One Response to “Johann gives Vinny a lot more dough”

  1. adminon 18 Feb 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Here’s a nice report by Fin24.com, although it doesn’t question whether the Vinny investment falls in the “conservative” category.

    And here a solid report posted by a private equity site in the US called peHUB.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply