The geek revolution, which has been threatening for the last two decades, is almost complete. As of Aug 2016, The five most valuable public companies in the world are all tech companies. People such as Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates are not just some of the world’s most famous multi-billionaires, they are also massive geeks who are determined to change the planet in incredible ways. Just see here, here and here.
Not unlike a gold rush, all this buzz and coverage about technology leads to an uptick in young ambitious workers flocking to the industry in search of their fortune. This is a bit more noticeable in the United States, when MBA’s turn down offers from Wall Street Investment Banks for internships at Silicon Valley Startups. However, this is also happening in South Africa, albeit at a much smaller scale. We happen to notice a little at SovTech: as an innovative provider of ground breaking technology to enterprises, as well as an investor in fast growing South African tech startups, our company expansion keeps our careers page full of openings, almost constantly. What’s interesting however, is when our entry level tech jobs are being applied to by people who have spent over seven years becoming chartered accountants (CA’s) or even Doctors (MBChB’s).
Switching careers to follow a passion is always encouraged, and new technology ideas, innovations and companies are being formed in daily, by people from a myriad of different of backgrounds. Unfortunaly if you are looking to start or join the South African equivalent of rocket-ship startups like Uber, AirBnB and SnapChat, your options are either to join those exact companies, or the established local internet leaders. Our ecosystem struggles to spawn tech companies of any significant scale. So if you are looking to jump into tech and work for one the biggest South African internet companies, as the title suggests, your best chance is becoming a journalist or better yet staying a banker.
Below is the list of the 15 biggest websites visited by South Africans as ranked by Alexa and Similar Web.
The 5 biggest public companies in the world dominate the lists above. Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon, with the notable exception is Apple, but since there is a large probability that you are reading this article on your Iphone, they can be forgiven.
- 33% of Similar Web is made up by the 5 biggest internet companies.
- 85% Of Alexa’s list made up by the 5 biggest internet companies.
(Notes on the above percentages: YouTube is owned by Google, Instagram is owned by Facebook and Linkedin along with MSN and Bing.com are owned by Microsoft.)
Your options are slim, you can try, along with the rest of the world, to get a job at one of these 4 behemoths. Your other international options are Twitter (which is dying), Yahoo (which is dead), 2 illegal companies and a digital Encyclopedia. Not amazing opportunities, for your leap into the technology industry.
An alternative would be to go get a job, at a homegrown South African local internet leader. From the lists above you can see that there are three options:
Online banking is mainstream, and most of the millennial generation (myself included) prefer dealing with my bank from the comfort of my desk or couch, rather than taking a ticket at one of their hospital feeling branches that still litter the country. The interesting thing is that your Bank already knows everything about you, as well as making anything they sell an easy purchase since they control your bank details. It is why FNB is opening a cellphone network, and almost every insurer is looking to become a bank. There are obviously concerns that FinTech and the BlockChain could disrupt banking, but for the savvy banks that already own all the customers, all the traffic and all the money, the future looks bright.
Media has always been one of the largest destinations on the internet. Google makes most if it’s money by getting you to click on ads, and Facebook is basically a modern incarnation of a newspaper. The media industry might struggle a little in the digital world, as margins in print, TV and radio continue there unending decline. However the audiences are not getting smaller, and for the established players, with credibility, the trend is noticeably upwards. The holy grail of media has always been a sticky audience since that is where the money is. So wether it is serious investigative reporting, or click-baity cat picture slide shows, a “journalism” career (or more aptly the ability to bring an audience) will always have value for the largest tech players.
As a digital first company and a committed member of the South African tech and start-up ecosystem we applaud those independent tech companies pushing their way into the top lists. Companies such as Takealot.com, Property24, MTN, BidOrBuy and others that are growing their way into the top 15. But with international Silicon Valley behemoths dominating the lists globally it might never materialise, no matter how successful they become. In the meantime, take comfort in the fact, that even during this revolution, your Bcom(Banking) and BA(Media) degrees are looking pretty relevant in the modern world.
*Google.co.za is still owned by Google (USA company) even though it has the co.za TLD. What is even more impressive is that Google ranks 2 separate domains (.com &.co.za), which essentially splits their traffic, and yet they still outrank Facebook.
** Gumtree.co.za is owned and operated by Ebay (USA company) even though it has the co.za TLD.
^ We were initially surprised that there is only one porn site on the entire list. And it’s not even the best one.
^^ Clearly South Africans prefer stealing music and movies to most other things on the internet.