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Interviews

  • Google’s Michelle Atagana talks life after journalism, spreading the tech gospel

    Long-time Memeburn readers across Africa are probably very familiar with the name Michelle Atagana. And if you didn't read our former Managing Editor's content on the site, chances are you bumped into her at a tech conference somewhere around the globe. Now Head of Communications and Public Affairs at Google South Africa, Atagana recently returned to Burn Media HQ for a visit. While she was here, we sat down with her to talk about life after journalism, what Google's doing in Africa, and how far the continent still has to go when it comes to fostering women entrepreneurs and...

  • 3D printers, cardboard and a giant robot: Omar-Pierre Soubra on the magic of Maker Faire

    Cape Town recently hosted its very first Maker Faire Cape Town. Calling those involved makers, the event saw some 4 000 attendants and over 40 different exhibitors over the weekend, which is a good number for Cape Town. It took place at the Lookout in the V&A Waterfront. The makers showcased a variety of 3D printers, electronics, artwork, and all manner of things created by the exhibitionists. Some of the exhibitions included Arduino Cape Town, the Cardboard Challenge, and a gigantic robot. Besides food stalls outside, nothing at the stands was for sale. This allows the event to be an experience and not...

  • SleekGeek Elan Lohmann chats about fitness tech, online communities

    Since the birth of social media, individuals are constantly finding ways to use these platforms to their full advantage. One of these creatives, Elan Lohmann, used Twitter and Facebook to found SleekGeek, a community initiative to promote healthy living. Lohmann's "previous life" consisted of corporate jobs, a workaholic attitude, and being a self-confessed chain-smoker. He eventually decided to give up that life in order to pursue SleekGeek, which has been a resounding success on Mark Zuckerberg's social media platform. Lohmann recently visited our offices to give us a talk about his journey. Afterwards, we sat down for a quick one-on-one...

  • Y&R CEO David Sable chats advertising’s next big markets, why ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ secretly sucked

    For a guy at the top of an industry worth billions upon billions of dollars, David Sable doesn't seem all that concerned with the bottom line. Instead, the global CEO of WPP-held giant Young & Rubicam seems more concerned with telling great stories about his clients and their products. That philosophy might explain why he hasn't cashed out, despite having been involved in the industry in form or another since 1976. It might also explain why his views on why agencies are so willing to follow those clients into new untapped markets. Having witnessed first-hand the entrance of Western...

  • 9 massive predictions for how tech will impact ‘the next billion’

    Quartz held an impressive event this week with speakers from Uber, frog, and EVRYTHING to name but a few. Titled "The Next Billion", the conference focused on the challenges and the opportunities society faces with the "new world" we are fast seeing emerge. With a heavy vein of mobile and emerging markets peppered throughout, the morning was packed with insight and data on the opportunities the next billion people who come online will pose - some only emerging in the last few months based on new coding and political technology barriers being removed. I spoke with several of the...

  • Opera VP Richard Monday tells Memeburn why its mobile browser is still so important for Africa

    Before the advent of smartphones, and long before iOS got popular in Africa, Africans were using their mobile devices to browse the web. In the early days of mobile internet, surfing the web on mobile devices wasn’t something everyone could afford hence the deployment of various tools and mobile internet tricks and tweaks aimed at lowering costs and browsing faster. The most popular one is the Opera Mini browser. Even though many Nigerians don’t know the science behind how the Opera browser works, they know using it makes browsing the internet more affordable which is why they gladly share...

  • SA’s first social media lawyer on sex tapes, penis transplants and Pistorius

    She’s been described as the Dr. Eve of social media, ready with that much-needed reality check just before we send out a message into the world that one day will come back to haunt us. Invited to SXSW to talk about South Africa’s first trial by social media, Memeburn had the opportunity to sit down with Emma Sadleir at one of Austin’s most opulent hotels, the Driskill. Sadleir shot to fame as host on DStv’s Oscar Pistorius channel fielding Twitter questions about the country’s first televised trial. Viewers could send questions using the #AskEmma hashtag which would often trend while...

  • e.tv’s David Kibuuka travels to hipster mecca SXSW, reveals he owns 5 iPods

    "If you go to Cape Town there's a lot of coloured people, right," David Kibuuka replies after I ask what he makes of all the SXSW hipsters. "But I wouldn't say Cape Town is a coloured place. There just happen to be coloured people too. In the same way when you come to Austin there's a lot of hipsters. So if you came here and asked me if this a hipster place, I wouldn't say that. But if we were going to discuss hipsterness then we would do it here, so that the hipsters wouldn't have to travel that far." A jaunty grin...

  • From Steve Jobs to Eskom: how a former Disney exec solves challenges creatively

    South Africans can learn to live more easily without power. On visiting Cape Town and Johannesburg this week, Greg Brandeau was surprised to find how we've come to accept the way power cuts are communicated. But the former Pixar and Disney executive wasn't visiting as an Eskom consultant, rather Brandeau came to speak at Accenture's inaugural Innovation Conference and just happened to have some suggestions on our electricity crisis during an interview with Memeburn. Brandeau is an MIT-trained engineer who has had the opportunity to take talented companies to its next level, a skill that has taken him to the corners of...

  • Patrick Meier on single-click volunteering, the good side of tech

    "If you can click on a Facebook picture, you can be a digital humanitarian," author and technologist Patrick Meier says. The old sentiment “Information is power” is so much more pertinent in today’s age where, every minute, over 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube and 300 000 tweets are posted. Beyond all those funny videos of cats getting vacuumed and celebrity twars, there is stuff being done on social media that can make a real difference. Gathering this data and making sense of it all is where the real challenge lies. And it has never been more critical in times...

  • African women in tech: Rebecca Enonchong on concealing her role as founder

    "For a long time, to obtain enterprise customers, I concealed the fact that I owned the company. I never lied about it, but I never volunteered that information. My business card didn't even have a title" -- Rebecca Enonchong. Where are the women in tech? Who are the women building technology or working in technology in Africa? These questions and many more are asked on a daily basis. When it comes to technology in Africa, the general consensus is that women are not present. We beg to differ. Africa has a range of women working and building cool technology for...

  • Creating a more curious generation through memes: Q&A with Reddit GM

    It's a slightly gloomy Seattle day but the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) is packed with students and members of the public. I am sitting at the museum's cafe with the General Manager of Reddit, Erik Martin, (who, like me, had a slightly rough night out with Microsoft's Imagine Cup group). The cafe is a bit noisy as the staff get ready to feed the hoard outside. "I hope you don't mind if I record this, I am rubbish at taking notes" I ask him. "Not all," he responds kindly. Martin has been at the helm of Reddit, arguably one of the...

  • Africa’s mobile ways fit in well with us, says Twitter

    Twitter seems hell-bent on pushing its business solutions for small- to medium-sized businesses, and like many big tech companies, Africa has entered its sphere of thought. Last week, the social media platform officially launched in Africa via a partnership with contextual ad network, Ad Dynamo. It was announced a month ago that Ad Dynamo had partnered with Twitter to become its exclusive advertising partner in South Africa. Highlighted as one of Twitter’s fastest-growing markets when the company went public, South Africa has an estimated 5.5-million Twitter users (a 129% increase in just a year). We caught up with Ali Jafari, Twitter's head of Europe,...

  • Jawbone founder: the web hasn’t really empowered average people the way it promised to

    Opinions are everywhere, pretty much everyone in the world has them. These opinions have a right to be aired irrespective of who you are, where you live and what you do. This what Jawbone founder Alex Asseily believes. It's this belief, more than anything else, which inspired the launch of State, a new global opinion network that links individuals based on their point of view. The London-based company was founded by Asseily and his brother Mark. The opinion platform recently made a move into Africa through South Africa and has been targeting emerging market countries in the last few...

  • Why social is broken and how we can fix it: Q&A with Caleb Gardner

    You may or may not know who Caleb Gardner is, but he's got a lot to say and is articulate when he says it. Many more people now do know who he is after a post he wrote on Medium went somewhat viral on LinkedIn early last week. That, and he manages the content team that runs the third largest Twitter account in the world. We grabbed him for a quick interview to see why he thinks social is so broken... Memeburn: You recently wrote "The Social Media Industry Is Broken—And It’s Our Fault" -- talk about what drove you...