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Started in 1997, Privateproperty.co.za was way ahead of the Internet wave, but grew from Justin Clarke’s garage to become the leading online real estate platform in South Africa.
The idea of offering property for sale on the Internet evolved into the idea of disrupting the real estate industry by taking estate agents out the loop, introducing an FSBO, or no commission, model.
To solve the low level of Internet usage, the company franchised its operations allowing for fast growth and a low overhead model with content aggregation. The revenue model predominantly derived income from mortgage origination, but the portal was never free and advertising fees made up a significant proportion of revenue. The company took on investment from Tiger Global Management in 2008 and restructured to buy back the franchise operations and allow estate agents to advertise on the site.
Privateproperty.co.za soon grew to become the dominant portal in South Africa, generating nearly double the revenue of its nearest competitor. Monthly, it delivers more than 800 000 leads to advertisers and has in excess of a million unique browsers between its web and app offerings.
The company continues to innovate in the technical arena having in 2012 launched – for example – an industry-first augmented-reality mobile app that allows house-hunters to find for-sale and to-rent properties in their surrounds, simply by holding up their iPhone or iPad. Privateproperty.co.za also leads the industry in terms of its Fusion software solution that allows estate agents to upload listing simultaneously to multiple portals.
Most recently Private Property Holdings merged with Kenya-based auto classified portal Cheki Africa Media to form One Africa Media – a deal that is purported to have created Africa’s largest online classifieds group.
One Africa Media now operates the #1 players in cars, jobs, travel and property in eastern, southern and western Africa. The company has five brands (some of which are minority-owned), namely PrivateProperty.co.za, Cheki, Jobberman, BrighterMonday (recruitment portals in west and east Africa respectively) and SafariNow (South Africa’s leading travel and accommodation booking website).