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South African feature phone mobile social network Mxit has announced that it is donating all of its IP and technology assets to The Reach Trust, an independent ‘Public Benefit Organization’, set up for providing social good using Mxit technology. Along with this, the social network is shuttering commercial operations in India, according to reports from News24Wire, which quotes a statement from the company, saying that

“In 2014, Mxit tested the efficacy of through-the-line marketing efforts in India and Nigeria. Although the brand could quickly acquire users, the long-term growth prospects in these highly competitive markets were carefully reviewed at the end of 2014, and compared to the on-going investment it would require to retain users.”

“In the beginning of 2015, the Group shifted its focus back to Southern Africa, and marketing activities in both of these markets ended.”

“Most of the team that was employed by Mxit India for the marketing pilot was absorbed by GluePlus, which is not formally related to Mxit in any way”

Sam Rufus Nallaraj was heading Mxit’s initiatives in India, as the CEO of Mxit India Pvt Ltd. At launch in India, the messaging service supported English and Hindi, and had planned a rollout in Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Assamese and Oriya.

The usage of Mxit’s IP by the Reach Trust

The statement from The Reach Trust indicates that it will focus on Souther Africa, and the network will still continue to be available on feature phones. Mxit currently has close to 100 million registered users globally, with more than 17 million unique app downloads in 2014 alone, but frankly, in this day and age, ‘registered users don’t matter, only active users do. Outgoing CEO of Mxit, Francois Swart, has said that Mxit has seen a decline in activity and engagement over the past 18 months, even though the usage of services from The Reach Trust has been stable.

The Reach Trust provides education programs and text based counselling, and will focus on education in South Africa; its Ukufunda Virtual School that was launched in partnership with the Department of Basic Education (South Africa) and UNICEF on Mxit in September last year has signed up over 140,000 users from 10,000 schools. “Reach will use key Mxit features such as the messaging service and the app publishing framework to sustain engagement with users, including more than 500 000 learners who continue to access educational apps on the platform every month.

Naspers Had Exited Mxit In 2011

Mxit was early in the messaging game, when Naspers picked up 30% in it in 2007, but Naspers chose to exit the company in 2011. Investment firm World of Avatar picked up 90% stake in Mxit in 2011. It’s also worth noting that Naspers owned Ibibo had launched WeChat, the messaging service from Naspers investee Tencent, in India in 2012, before Tencent and Naspers decided to go their separate ways in the country in 2013.