Mxit founder Herman Heunis’ legacy of cost-effective chats

Namibia-born Mxit founder Herman Heunis passed away on Wednesday following a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.

Heunis diagnosed two years ago was a software specialist who later established Swist Group Technologies, a consulting firm that developed software.

Mxit was developed by Clockspeed Mobile, the research division of Swist after the tech entrepreneur identified a gap in the messaging market.

Initially beginning as a multiplayer game based around SMS’s, Mxit became a popular social network app that peaked the interests of financial backers like Naspers in 2007.

The platform expanded which led to astonishing numbers for the platform, with around 14 million active users.

Heunis later stepped away from the platform and made a decision to sell Mxit to pursue other interests.

Great mile stone

The entrepreneur was a pioneer of his time.

In 2009, he facilitated a Q and A session between former US President Barack Obama and youth across the continent.

The platform was used to engage Obama on Mxit, where the youth could question the former statesman using the platform.

The youth were asked to send a question or comment to Obama, where he would respond to the Mxit user after his campaign close in 2009.

“We are very proud to have been asked to be part of a campaign to better understand and engage with African youth,” said Heunis reportedly said.

“We are simply delighted that such an important and influential president understands and acknowledges the power of social networking.”

The use of social media platforms appeared to galvanize support for Obama, who later became President of the United States.

Obama’s use of new technology was a crucial factor in connecting with the youth at the time, and Heunis was a pivotal part of that story.

Mxit was a free instant messaging app that operated on over 8 000 devices, such as BlackBerry, iPhone, Android and tablets during its rise to prominence.

The app was shut down around 2016, following a public statement that indicated a dramatic drop in user numbers.

The app had around 88 million users at the time.

Heunis clearly made his impact on the world and was evidence that local companies could produce global competitors, with the right backing and innovation.

Details around his memorial and funeral were still to be confirmed at time of publishing.

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Feature image: @@TshumaLavender/Twitter

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