Local social network Mxit is finally shutting down its commercial operations and donating all of its intellectual property and technology assets to independent public benefit organisation ‘The Reach Trust’.
Mxit reported in 2013 that its monthly active user base was 7.5 million that year. But this figure has dropped to just 1.2 million monthly active users in July 2015
Mxit, in its statement, said its application would still be available to the public as a download.
But as part of the deal, Mxit chief executive Francois Swart will depart after three years in charge. Almost 30 Mxit staff will also be transferred to The Reach Trust under CEO Andrew Rudge and ex-FNB CEO Michael Jordaan, who has been the chairperson of Mxit, will not be actively involved with the operations of The Reach Trust.
As part of the change Mxit will also exit its India and Nigeria businesses.
The Reach Trust has been providing free services such as text-based counselling and education initiatives to up to 10 million people since 2012.
“Whilst Mxit overall has seen a decline in activity and engagement over the past 18 months, the use of services offered by The Reach Trust on Mxit has been stable and in many cases show an upward trend,” Swart said in the statement.
Mxit’s fall as a commercial service has come amid intense competition from international offerings such as WhatsApp and Facebook.
WhatsApp has over 10 million users in South Africa while Facebook has 13 million users in the country, according to recent research from World Wide Worx and Fuseware.
“We’ve seen the last throw of the Mxit dice,” Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, told Fin24 on Friday.
“The social platform that introduced South Africans to instant messaging has seen a precipitous drop at a time when most other networks have climbed,” he added.
Goldstuck further told Fin24 that Mxit’s fall in user numbers started with the emergence of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) about five years ago.