‘We try to enrich the lives of consumers’

Naspers is not your average internet, entertainment and investment company. Ever since the start – in 1915! – the global firm, born in South Africa, strives for enriching consumer’s lives. CEO Bob van Dijk: “I believe Naspers’ progress over many years is the result of its efforts to both spot shifts in consumer behaviour early and also understand how technology can make a real difference in people’s lives.”

Can you tell us something about Naspers main activities?

“We are a global internet and entertainment group, and an investor in tech companies with a focus on growth markets: we are very active in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, India, Latin America.”

Your website says: ‘Naspers builds leading companies that empower people and enrich communities’. Can you elaborate on that?

“Naspers was founded in 1915. So we’ve been around a long time. Ever since then we have tried to enrich the lives of consumers. We do that by anticipating how consumers’ needs are evolving over time and then inventing or investing in great products which address those needs. We tend to partner with strong, local entrepreneurs who have both business models we believe in and the necessary ambition to rapidly scale their business. The companies we run today are mainly in the field of entertainment and the internet, but not only that: we’re also active in technology business which aim to transform education, health, agriculture, to name a few. Those are the products that make people’s lives better. And by backing local entrepreneurs, we also support local communities.”

Your company is 103 years old. In what way Naspers changed since then?

“Naspers started as a traditional media company. And media for Naspers is about entertainment, about informing and enlightening people’s lives. That is what we get out of bed for, that’s how we think business should be done, so that hasn’t changed. But what has changed, are technologies and the world we live in. Since the very start Naspers has transformed itself several times, mainly due to new technologies. For instance: five years ago 34% of our investments were internet related, nowadays that is 81%. What the next big thing will be? I think there will be a lot of incarnations of the internet, and in consumer technology there is still a long way to go.”

The StartupFest Europe 2017 theme is ‘Global Challenges, Startup Solutions’. Judging by your answers Naspers really can relate to that.

“Sure thing. We’re 100% aligned with that theme. And at StartupFest Europe we’re looking for European startups and scale-ups that can be part of our ambitions. My colleagues will visit various events during StartupFest Europe. And I will be present at CapitalFest on September 27 in Beurs van Berlage. Nice to know: I’m Dutch, but lived abroad for the past decade. Now the ‘lost son is back’. And I’m happy to be back in The Netherlands at StartupFest Europe 2017.”