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The Smile That Says I Survived

Stafford Masie left his dream job at Google to try save his crumbling marriage. It didn’t work. Out of the rubble, came fortune.

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Stafford Masie brought Google to South Africa and paid a hefty price. With 20 years in IT, Masie worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. And if ever you want insight into his tenacity, you have to go back to Bloemfontein in the 1990s.

“When I came back to South Africa, I worked at Telkom as a network analyst. I then became an instructor; they sent me to Cape Town and Durban to do a training course and then they sent me to Bloemfontein. It was a five-day course; I was prepared to do it and then these white guys walked in, asked if I was the instructor and walked out. They refused to be taught by someone of color. I was confused and angry; I didn’t know what to do. A lady came to me and said ‘look this is the situation, we are dealing with it, please go back to your hotel’. So I went back to my hotel distraught. I remember calling my dad and he said ‘You have to choose between two paths, you could be the victim or you could go back in there tomorrow morning and make sure you are the best of the best,’” says Masie.

“I went back in and today some of those guys are my best friends.”

By 2006, Masie had traveled and lived abroad, and held one of the top positions at his then company Novell SA. His success, however, kept him away from his wife and children. Just when Masie thought it was time to rekindle his relationship with his family, he was given the biggest opportunity in his career – Google SA. Stafford did it all; he developed Google Search, Maps, Street View and he hired staff.

It was three years too many for his family and his personal life ‘hit the wall’. Masie was forced to leave Google SA to spend time with his crumbling family.

“I left Google reluctantly, I left Google negatively, I left Google unwillingly, I was hoping to salvage a marriage and spend time with my children again,” says Masie.

But it was too little, too late. His marriage ended.

“I got lost over all the years of giving so much to my career. I lost family and a marriage.”

Masie, the husband, lost, but Masie, the entrepreneur, was determined to win. He threw himself into his work. Masie sent shockwaves through the payment space, creating Payment Pebble, a device that turns your smartphone or tablet into a mobile card machine to receive credit or debit card payments on the go. It was a world first through his founding company, Thumbzup, founded in 2010.

“I have the greatest team, that’s what I have. So whatever anyone else is building out there, I don’t care. I’m not building a product to compete, I am building a team to be sustainable,” says Masie.

The idea of Payment Pebble came to Masie in an unexpected way that he will never forget. While waiting to see a mayor in the Gauteng province, a woman with a baby strapped to her back with a towel was rushed into the mayor’s office in tears. Stafford asked the receptionist what was going on, she explained that the council had turned off the woman’s utilities because she hadn’t made payments. The woman had the money, but wasn’t able to make the payments because she had just given birth to twins and fell ill during childbirth. With no lights or water in the middle of winter, one of the twins died.

Masie knew he had to do something.

“The Payment Pebble wasn’t a technological thing; my love for IT is personified by this. IT can solve that woman’s problem. That guy could have showed up at her house, if he had a payment pebble, he could have accepted her card payment and there could have been a full reconciliation of payment. He would have left and not switched off the lights and the child would be alive today,” says Masie.

“The Payment Pebble is a good example of African innovation solving African problems, it’s a great product,” says Mark Walker, the Regional Director for Africa at the Industrial Development Corporation.

Stafford took his idea to the banks.

“We spoke to all the banks and we realized that all the banks wanted a product. What we liked about Absa was that they wanted a partnership,” says Masie.

Four years later, the Payment Pebble is the largest mobile point of sale in Africa and is launching in one of the largest financial institutes in Australia and Latin America.

Masie believes his leadership style is the reason for his success as an entrepreneur.

“First of all, I am not a boss. I think I am more a leader, someone who is in the trenches shooting with the soldiers. Even though I may be a higher rank, I am in there with them. It is the only way I can be,” says Masie.

Lydia Paledi, an office manager at Novell SA, worked under Masie during his time at the company and has high praise for the entrepreneur.

“He was the best boss I’ve ever had and I wish he could come back.”

Despite his success, Masie dwells on his mistakes. He admits that he thinks of quitting at least once a day.

“It’s a constant battle with yourself; when you invent something, it’s nice to see it on billboards. When you pass Melrose Arch there is this massive billboard, when you look on the TV, it’s on CNN. It’s an incredible feeling but it’s short lived. You are always looking for the next big thing,”

he says.

Masie’s dream was to become a rescue helicopter pilot. Even though that didn’t happen, he is settled with his Payment Pebble and his microlight and six-seater Jabiru planes that he flies privately.

Entrepreneurs

From The Arab World To Africa

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Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi; image supplied

In this exclusive interview with FORBES AFRICA, successful Dubai-based Emirati businesswoman, author and artist, Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, shares some interesting insights on fashion, the future, and feminism in a shared world.

Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi wears many hats, as an artist, architect, author, entrepreneur and philanthropist based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She currently serves as the CEO of Paris London New York Events & Publishing (PLNY), that includes a magazine and a fashion house.

She runs Velvet Magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication in the Gulf founded in 2010 that showcases the diversity of the region home to several nationalities from around the world.

In this recent FORBES AFRICA interview, Hend, as she would want us to call her, speaks about the future of publishing, investing in intelligent content, and learning to be a part of the disruption around you.

As an entrepreneur too and the designer behind House of Hend, a luxury ready-to-wear line that showcases exquisite abayas, evening gowns and contemporary wear, her designs have been showcased in fashion shows across the world.

The Middle East is known for retail, but not typically, as a fashion hub in the same league as Paris, New York or Milan. Yet, she has changed the narrative of fashion in the region. “I have approached the world of fashion with what the customer wants,” says Hend. In this interview, she also extols African fashion talent and dwells on her own sartorial plans for the African continent.

In September, in Downtown Dubai, she is scheduled to open The Flower Café. Also an artist using creative expression meaningfully, she says it’s important to be “a role model of realism”.

She is also the author of The Black Book of Arabia, described as a collection of true stories from the Arab community offering a real glimpse into the lives of men and women across the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

In this interview, she also expounds on her home, Sharjah, one of the seven emirates in the UAE and the region’s educational hub. “A number of successful entrepreneurs have started in this culturally-rich emirate that’s home to 30 museums,” she concludes. 

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Kim Kardashian West Is Worth $900 Million After Agreeing To Sell A Stake In Her Cosmetics Firm To Coty

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In what will be the second major Kardashian cashout in a year, Kim Kardashian West is selling a 20% stake in her cosmetics company KKW Beauty to beauty giant Coty COTY for $200 million. The deal—announced today—values KKW Beauty at $1 billion, making Kardashian West worth about $900 million, according to Forbes’estimates.

The acquisition, which is set to close in early 2021, will leave Kardashian West the majority owner of KKW Beauty, with an estimated 72% stake in the company, which is known for its color cosmetics like contouring creams and highlighters. Forbes estimates that her mother, Kris Jenner, owns 8% of the business. (Neither Kardashian West nor Kris Jenner have responded to a request for comment about their stakes.) According to Coty, she’ll remain responsible for creative efforts while Coty will focus on expanding product development outside the realm of color cosmetics.

Earlier this year, Kardashian West’s half-sister, Kylie Jenner, also inked a big deal with Coty, when she sold it 51% of her Kylie Cosmetics at a valuation of $1.2 billion. The deal left Jenner with a net worth of just under $900 million. Both Kylie Cosmetics and KKW Beauty are among a number of brands, including Anastasia Beverly Hills, Huda Beauty and Glossier, that have received sky-high valuations thanks to their social-media-friendly marketing. 

“Kim is a true modern-day global icon,” said Coty chairman and CEO Peter Harf in a statement. “This influence, combined with Coty’s leadership and deep expertise in prestige beauty will allow us to achieve the full potential of her brands.”

The deal comes just days after Seed Beauty, which develops, manufactures and ships both KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, won a temporary injunction against KKW Beauty, hoping to prevent it from sharing trade secrets with Coty, which also owns brands like CoverGirl, Sally Hansen and Rimmel. On June 19, Seed filed a lawsuit against KKW Beauty seeking protection of its trade secrets ahead of an expected deal between Coty and KKW Beauty. The temporary order, granted on June 26, lasts until August 21 and forbids KKW Beauty from disclosing details related to the Seed-KKW relationship, including “the terms of those agreements, information about license use, marketing obligations, product launch and distribution, revenue sharing, intellectual property ownership, specifications, ingredients, formulas, plans and other information about Seed products.”

Coty has struggled in recent years, with Wall Street insisting it routinely overpays for acquisitions and has failed to keep up with contemporary beauty trends. The coronavirus pandemic has also hit the 116-year-old company hard. Since the beginning of the year, Coty’s stock price has fallen nearly 60%. The company, which had $8.6 billion in revenues in the year through June 2019, now sports a $3.3 billion market capitalization. By striking deals with companies like KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, Coty is hoping to refresh its image and appeal to younger consumers.

Kardashian West founded KKW Beauty in 2017, after successfully collaborating with Kylie Cosmetics on a set of lip kits. Like her half-sister, Kardashian West first launched online only, but later moved into Ulta stores in October 2019, helping her generate estimated revenues of $100 million last year. KKW Beauty is one of several business ventures for Kardashian West: She continues to appear on her family’s reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, sells her own line of shapewear called Skims and promotes her mobile game, Kim Kardashian Hollywood. Her husband, Kanye West, recently announced a deal to sell a line of his Yeezy apparel in Gap stores.

“This is fun for me. Now I’m coming up with Kimojis and the app and all these other ideas,” Kardashian West told Forbesof her various business ventures in 2016. “I don’t see myself stopping.”

Madeline Berg, Forbes Staff, Hollywood & Entertainment

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Entrepreneurs

Covid-19: Restaurants, Beauty Salons, Cinemas Among Businesses That Will Operate Again In South Africa As Ramaphosa Announces Eased Lockdown Restrictions

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South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation announcing that the government will further ease the country’s lockdown restrictions.

Restaurants, beauty salons, cinemas are among the businesses that will be allowed to operate again in South Africa.

The country is still on lockdown ‘Level 3’ of the government’s “risk adjusted strategy”.

President Ramaphosa also spoke on the gender based violence in the country.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I stand before the women and the girls of South Africa this evening to talk about another pandemic that is raging in our country. The killing of women and children by the men of our country. As a man, as a husband, and as a father to daughters, I am appalled at what is no less than a war that is being waged against the women and the children of our country,” says Ramaphosa.

Watch below:

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