Sometimes it’s backing the right investment that makes a company.
This was the case with Naspers, a South African multinational internet company. Naspers wisely invested in Tencent in 2001. Tencent is a Chinese multinational technology investment company that would go on to grow into one of the biggest tech companies in the world. Naspers got in on the ground floor, and it still holds onto a more than thirty percent share of Tencent. That makes it the largest shareholder of Tencent.
Though Naspers began as a tech company that had operations in entertainment, e-commerce, and gaming, its purchase of a portion of Tencent has far eclipsed its other business. Today, Naspers has more than nineteen billion dollars in annual revenue.
Hold the Presses
This company was founded in 1915. At the time, it was called De Nasionale Pers Beperkt, which means National Press Limited. That first version of Naspers was a printer and publisher of magazines and newspapers. It formed when a compendium of big name Cape Afrikaners got together in 1914 and decided to create a publication company that could support the Afrikan nationalism movement.
The founders of Naspers were W.A. Hofmeyr and Jannie Marais. It printed the first newspaper ever published in the Afrikaans language, a daily paper called De Berger. Shortly after, the company began publishing a magazine as well, this one called De Huisgenoot. By 1918, it was publishing books as well.
Later, the company would launch the first paid television system in South Africa, called M-net. It has continued to expand, adding the massive Indian foodtech company Swiggy to its roster of companies in 2018. Naspers invested heavily in the company with more than one billion dollars.
National Party Connections
Controversially, Naspers was a major supporter of the National Party. This party reinforced aparthied in South Africa. Naspers was an essential funding partner of the National Party throughout aparthied.
It wasn’t until 2015 that the company publicly apologized for its role in the atrocities committed during aparthied and the methods with which it facilitated that oppression. It took a great deal of very public pressure and organized activism to get the company to own up to its role.
In 1998, the company changed its name from Nasionale Piers to Naspers.
It owns a huge range of subsidiaries. This is only a partial list.
The company is constantly expanding. Since its days as a newspaper, Naspers has consistently used acquisition as a method to stay relevant. Newspapers are no longer the kings of communication. This is why Naspers has changed its focus to digital media. The company is listed on both the JSE Limited, the oldest stock exchange in Africa, and the London Stock Exchange. This is truly an international company, a feature that becomes increasingly important to its brand identity. Staying profitable means staying relevant. That’s a lesson that Naspers has taken to heart, expanding and changing with the times.