Humanstate (re)presents at Swiss Perl Workshop 2017

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Humanstate (re)presents at Swiss Perl Workshop 2017

For the fourth year running, Humanstate developers were all over the Swiss Perl Workshop in Villars on 25 to 26 August 2017. With a delegation of seven developers (nearly a fifth of total attendance), presentations by Lee Johnson and Cal McCutcheon, and a conference braai (BBQ) at our offices, you might say we were well represented.

Yet Perl isn’t new. How is the language of the 90s still cool?

Lee explains: “Perl was responsible for the birth of the ‘dynamic Web’ in the mid 90s, and many well-known companies used it to bootstrap their businesses. They might not have so much Perl in their stacks anymore, but it's still everywhere. Startups still use it.”

Perl in Humanstate

As for our interest and investment in Perl, easily 95% of our stack is written in it, and has been since the company started in 2001. Humanstate continues to send developers to workshops and conferences, and Lee contributes back code:

What about the future? “We’ve modernised the GivenGain stack [with it] and are doing the same for PayProp – including adding a RESTful API. I think it's safe to say we are committed to the language,” he says.

The Perl confab circuit

The workshop attracted approximately 40 attendees – “pretty good for a small workshop in the mountains”, says Lee. (Perl leading light Damian Conway prefers ‘exclusive’.)

Make no mistake, there are enough Perl conferences and workshops to fill up your annual conference quota. They range from smaller workshops and meetups to larger conferences getting a few hundred attendees to ones attracting over a thousand, as in the case of recent Perl conferences in Japan.

In fact, Perl conferences are such a thing that there was once an entire series of them called Yet Another Perl Conference (now known as The Perl Conference). Gone are the days of readable acronyms.

Here’s Lee’s Instagram feed showing some of the things that go down at these events.

What’s new

So, what’s new with Perl? Lots, as it happens. There are yearly releases of the Perl core code, which include many updates and bug fixes. Here's this year's delta.

Then there are new modules and code, frequently uploaded to the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN).

And, of course, there’s Perl 6, formally released 18 months ago, on which we’ve been seeing the first book releases in 2017.

Few can sing Perl 6’s praises like Cal: “With Perl 6 taking the best ideas from many modern languages and coherently bundling them in a single language, it is poised to be the language for thinking and coding in systems,” he says.

 

Photos by Lee Johnson

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PayProp sets up in Canada, appoints Mislav Majic as President

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PayProp sets up in Canada, appoints Mislav Majic as President

We’re excited to enter the next phase in PayProp’s global expansion with the incorporation of PayProp Canada and the appointment of Mislav Majic as President to lead our expansion efforts there.

PayProp’s strong growth in South Africa and the United Kingdom provided the impetus we needed to enter Canada so soon after the UK (where we officially launched in 2015) – and we hope to keep the momentum and capitalise on the enormous opportunity we see in this market.

Best of both worlds

Mislav represents an emerging class of Humanstate employee, prized as much for their entrepreneurial energy as their mastery of organisational administration.

Born in Croatia, he moved to Canada as a child and graduated from Ryerson University with a degree in Business Administration.

He started his career at Bell Canada, the country’s biggest telco, in the sales department, before co-founding Facta Vera, a financial technology company focused on automating accounts payable processes, in partnership with his brother.

Over the next 15 years, Mislav built up an impressive portfolio of Fortune 1,000 customers, including AXA Insurance, Pfizer, Labatt Brewing Company, Hewlett Packard, TransCanada Pipelines and IKEA – delivering over 400 successful implementations across North America.

Most recently, Mislav took an opportunity to join VersaPay, a publicly listed payments company that wanted to transition from a traditional merchant services business and penetrate the growing B2B payments market. Mislav helped pivot VersaPay’s offering towards an accounts receivable automation solution, which proved to be a catalyst for the company’s growth from 16 million CAD in value to 62 million CAD today.

What attracted him to PayProp? Mislav cites the big opportunity, the company’s innovative approach, and above all, the people.

Big opportunity

The Canadian property market offers exciting prospects, he continues.

“Market growth is very robust, both from a pricing and volume point of view – which in turn provides impetus for rental growth. With over two million private rental dwellings turning over more than 20 billion CAD annually, the Canadian market is increasingly attractive.”

How will we address this market opportunity? “I am confident that the great work and processes implemented by the PayProp team in the UK and South Africa can be leveraged to great effect as we enter the Canadian market,” he says. “We know our product is exceptional and we know our clients love it. Our short-term focus will be on localising our solution for the Canadian market, building infrastructure and hiring a great team to delight our early customers.”

Due to great work by André Holtshausen, PayProp Canada has already secured a major banking partner to enable seamless receipt and reconciliation of rent as well as swift payments to bulk beneficiaries via the PayProp platform.

New digs

In the meantime, PayProp Canada is looking to establish offices in Toronto – which, along with Vancouver, is the country’s biggest real estate market.

“Being in Toronto’s downtown financial district will serve us well in attracting the right talent as we build our team,” Mislav says. “We are reviewing office space options and have already started the hiring process. I am very excited to be part of the PayProp team and eager to help lead the market expansion into Canada.”

Please join us in welcoming Mislav to the group and wishing him and PayProp Canada much success.

 

 

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Humanstate board changes

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Humanstate board changes

Johan van der Merwe has been elected to Humanstate's board of directors.

After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, Johan went on to do a Master in Income Tax (University of Pretoria) and an M Phil Finance at Cambridge University. He also participated and completed the Advanced Management Programme at Harvard Business School and the Challenge of Leadership at Insead Business School.

He joined Investec Asset Management in 1997 as Head of Resources and became the Global Sector Head of Resources in 2000. He was also a director and Executive Committee member of Investec Asset Management.

In 2002 he was appointed as CEO of Sanlam Investment Management. In May 2003 van der Merwe was appointed CEO of the Investment Cluster responsible for all the investment businesses in the Sanlam Group. In 2005 and 2007 he took, in addition to Sanlam Investments, responsibility for Sanlam Capital Markets and Sanlam Employee Benefits respectively.

He is now Co-CEO of African Rainbow Capital and a non-executive director on various other listed and unlisted companies.

He is a very keen swimmer and sports enthusiast and lives in Stellenbosch with his wife, Edna, their daughter and two sons.

We look forward to working with him and learning from him as he joins our board of directors.

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New Humanstate appointment: PayProp UK CEO

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New Humanstate appointment: PayProp UK CEO

We're pleased to bring news of André Holtshausen’s appointment as PayProp’s CEO in the UK, effective 1 August.

We've been privileged to work with André for more than a decade. With PayProp starting to hit its stride in the UK, and with plans for Canada proceeding briskly (absorbing some of the strategic focus that Sevenoaks has been getting from PayProp Holdings), André’s arrival is very timely. He is one of the most versatile and capable managers we know.

As an emerging growth engine in the group, PayProp UK is a vitally important business for us and we're fortunate to be able to fill this critical position with someone of André's calibre and skills – especially considering the extraordinary commitment he has made in relocating his family to Kent.

An accountant by profession, André has a rare predilection for uncharted waters, and calls himself an "entrepreneurial risk manager" with good cause. From 1995 to 2000, his first stint in the UK involved a secondment from PWC South Africa, to oversee implementation of new enterprise software that had been pioneered in South Africa. In his next role from 2000 to 2006, he led the establishment of an internal auditing and risk management division at Alexander Forbes, also in the UK.

In close collaboration with Neil Cobbold as the industry expert and public face of the UK business, André will lead the overall business opportunity there, operating at the nexus of business development, client support and partner integrations.

Additionally, his unusual mix of skills and specialisations will see him take a central role in preparing our entry into new markets, including Canada – spearheading bank integration, regulatory analysis and setup and scoping of the addressable market.

André is joined in Sevenoaks by his wife Annelize and daughters Anya, Lisa, Jani and Emma.

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Managing for growth and sustainability

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Managing for growth and sustainability

It is with great pleasure that I'm able to announce Riaan Basson's appointment as our new Group CEO. He will be responsible for the group's day-to-day operations, reporting to me in my role as executive chairman and giving effect to the decisions of a newly formed executive committee comprising myself, Jaco van Eeden, Eduard Malan and Riaan himself.

Riaan's arrival has come at precisely the right moment in our history, as we strive to remain as agile and innovative as ever while doubling down on professional rigour and clearer reporting lines in our management structure, with the minimum of bureaucracy.

Humanstate has always been run as a flat organisation in which anyone can interact directly with just about anyone else. Both Jaco and I enjoy motivating people and articulating our strategy, and I'm an unapologetic micro-manager. Some would call this 'founderitis', but when you've grown something out of nothing over many years, giving up on your original vision is not easy – and perhaps not the best thing either.

We've also never cared much for titles or excessive bureaucracy, as we're concerned first and foremost with building a culture on innovation and people. But to continue innovating in a time of growth while running a lean and efficient organisation we need more than vision and energy. We need the right structure.

Ben Horowitz discusses the importance of 'founding CEOs' versus 'professional CEOs' in technology businesses. "Technology businesses are fundamentally innovation businesses," he writes. "Etymologically, the word 'technology' means 'a better way of doing things'. Therefore, if a technology company ceases to innovate, it will die." The innovations he talks about are a company's product cycles, and in that regard the talents of a professional CEO and founding CEO are often mutually exclusive, he finds. "Professional CEOs are effective at maximising, but not finding, product cycles. Conversely, founding CEOs are excellent at finding, but not maximising, product cycles."

As 'founding CEO', I've been privileged to work with an incredible 'professional CEO' in Riaan over the last couple of years – one who knows how to manage at scale and understands how to make our culture and values come to life. Together we've built a unique management and leadership structure that combines the best of both our 'worlds' – exactly what we need for Humanstate's culture and future growth.

Now, we'd like to replicate that clear leadership structure at this precise tangent of our group's trajectory, and we've made some changes to our organisational structure achieve that:

  • I will continue to deal with the group's more strategic issues, working as part of the Humanstate exco.
  • Under the guidance of the board, the exco will debate and decide on matters of strategic importance (for example product strategy, brand management, pricing, M&As, new business opportunities, appointments etc).
  • As noted above, Riaan will be responsible for the group's day-to-day operations and leading our incredibly talented group of people in realising our full potential.

I know Riaan will be supremely effective and well liked in his new role, but please join me in wishing him every success in his endeavours!

Johannes

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New GivenGain Appointment

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New GivenGain Appointment

This month we're excited to welcome Marius Maré to the GivenGain team as the head of digital marketing. Marius brings extensive experience to the stable, amassed over several years at some premier brands, and I look forward to seeing GivenGain attain the rapid recognisability and support it deserves under his expert guidance. Read more...

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Photos: 2016 Villars Big

Photos from the 2016 GivenGain Dinner & Villars Big concert, our annual Alpine rendezvous. Thanks to Luke, Laurent & Lee for the photos. As usual, we have not tagged anyone - but if you would still prefer us to remove one or more you appear on, let us know.

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New CEO for PayProp Holdings

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New CEO for PayProp Holdings

Riaan Basson joins us as the CEO of PayProp Holdings. Based in London, he will be responsible for PayProp's worldwide operations. Riaan is a Foundation Scholar of Queens' College in Cambridge where he received an LL.M. in 1993. He went on to practise law in Cape Town, Amsterdam and London, whereafter he joined MWEB as its business development director, and later served as the MD of the Korbitec, Property24 and Korbicom group of companies from 2005 to 2015. Riaan helped build market-leading businesses in Africa, the UK, Canada, the USA, Russia and the Philippines. He is married to Susan with three children (Margot, 19, Adriaan, 17 and Madeleine, 15). "Take a moment to think about the journey - the idea traversing our business from the moment Johannes and Jaco framed it for the first time to what we do with payments today," says Riaan. "We will be defined by the ways in which we collaborate, communicate, help each other, rely on each other, and respect and trust each other. I look forward to making a small contribution to how we continue to make that journey more and more effective, in a sustainable and profitable way."

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HUMANSTATE replaces GivenGain International as our new group brand

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HUMANSTATE replaces GivenGain International as our new group brand

After more than 15 years of using the GivenGain brand for our group identity as well as our Foundation and fundraising platform, the time has come to separate the group brand from the other two – which continue as before.

To this end we are proud and excited to announce a new logo and name change for our group to Humanstate. In essence, Humanstate is a collection of companies and brands including PayProp, our largest commercial entity, as well as GivenGain and the Foundation.

As our operating companies continue to go from strength to strength, a new group brand will bring greater focus and clarity to the work of our platforms on the one hand, and the people who own and built them on the other.

At the centre of the new name is the idea of a shared human experience or ‘state’ of being, in which it is possible to make lives better and gain greater perspective through connected platforms.

This holds true whether we’re talking about dissolving the complexity of property settlements or breaking down the barriers of privilege between and within us.

You will see the new branding filter through in the next while and in our ongoing marketing efforts as we work to update our online properties, print materials and other assets as required.

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GivenGain International buys out PayProp SA majority, sells stake to African Rainbow Capital

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GivenGain International buys out PayProp SA majority, sells stake to African Rainbow Capital

PayProp, the largest processor of residential letting transactions in South Africa, recently concluded a series of agreements that significantly change its shareholding. As of 1 March 2016, GivenGain International has again acquired a majority stake in the business through a significant investment in the South African operating entity.

In addition, a substantial minority shareholding was acquired by African Rainbow Capital (ARC), which forms part of billionaire Patrice Motsepe's stable. ARC's directors include Patrice Motsepe, former Sanlam CEO Johan van Zyl, and former Sanlam Investments CEO Johan van der Merwe.

Founded by GivenGain International in 2005 and trading under licence agreement in South Africa ever since, PayProp South Africa gained Naspers as a majority shareholder in 2013. In the three years since, PayProp continued to grow from strength to strength. The company is estimated to manage the trust funds of more than 25% of estate agency firms operating rental portfolios, and in doing so has processed more than R6 billion in rental payments over the past 12 months.

This investment by GivenGain International and African Rainbow Capital signals a strong commitment to investing in the South African economy in a manner that enables equity-based transformation in the technology and property industries.

In other group developments, GivenGain International has embarked on an aggressive international expansion drive of its operating entities. PayProp is on a rapid growth path in the United Kingdom, and expansion further afield is on the cards for this year.

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Meet the new GivenGain

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Meet the new GivenGain

We've been working on something very special over the last couple of months, and we're now ready to show it to you.

For us, it's always been about helping causes, their supporters, and those who do what they can to have a positive impact on the world.

With that in mind, we embarked on our next grand re-design, virtually from the ground up. We started by once more going through the laborious process of planning, building, polishing, testing, fixing and polishing some more.

Throughout, we were extremely fortunate to draw on the expertise of a group of seriously talented designers and usability experts, amazing front-end coders, passionate developers and some very fussy testers. And we wouldn’t have it any other way!

So what's new? A leaner, lighter, more intuitive, extremely focused – and may we say, more beautiful GivenGain.


Activists

Our tools for fundraising have been improved, with new functionality making it easier for Activists to share how they're changing the world.

Activist-project-example2.png

Highlights for activists

  • Explore - It's quicker and easier than ever to find a Cause you care about, set up a project and start making a real difference;
  • Add multimedia - You can make your projects more personal by adding an image or video, giving it a richer description, attaching a photo gallery or adding a location;
  • Share - Make your project easier to find by adding tags, and even easier to share by giving it a unique URL;
  • Add updates - Keep your supporters in the loop with updates that support images, video and RunKeeper activities.

Causes

Causes get a cleaner interface, more intuitive tools for tracking donations and fundraisers, and integration into third party applications that will make managing their data even more effective.

Highlights for causes

  • New dashboard - A dashboard that tells you everything you need to know at a glance;
  • Campaigns instead of projects - Create new campaigns with ease and make them more informative with an image or video, rich descriptions or adding a location;
  • Updates - Keep your supporters in the loop with updates that support images and video;
  • Know your supporters - Powerful reporting that gives you a clear picture of donations, your donors and the Activists that fundraise for you;
  • 3rd party integration - Integration with Salesforce, MailChimp and Campaign Monitor for automatic synchronisation and effortless management of your supporter data;
  • New donation form - A brand new, mobile-friendly donation form.

Donors

We're also making it much easier for donors to give, manage how they're giving, and discover new Causes to support.


It's been a lot of hard work, but it's the kind of hard work we love.

Have a look. And - if you like what we're doing - join the movement!

 

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Kompos Symposium sponsored by GivenGain

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Kompos Symposium sponsored by GivenGain

 

It is our pleasure and privilege to sponsor the first ever Kompos Composition Symposium, co-hosted by Kompos and the University of Stellenbosch. Our support for inaugural event is part of our pledge to give back to the communities where we live and work. If music be the food of love, we think it's because it is a universal language, breaking down the barriers between us.

The programme offers a feast of new works by young and established South African composers, performed by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.

About KOMPOS

KOMPOS is a student initiative of Stellenbosch University founded in 2010 by Antoni Schonken and Tricia Theunissen. During the last 5 years, KOMPOS has aided students in realising over 100 performances of their newly composed works. This symposium represents an organisational milestone, and is the culmination of many years of passionate music making and collaborations with musicians, performing artists and conductors.

Read more at http://www.kompossymposium.org/

 

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PayProp & ARLA

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PayProp & ARLA

In recognition of its simplicity, transparency and top-to-bottom visibility, PayProp has been appointed an affinity partner of the NfoPP and ARLA.

When an estate agency was expelled from The Property Ombudsman Scheme recently, the importance of proper record-keeping and administration came under the spotlight once again.

Read the full article on ARLA's website

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Photos: 2015 Villars Big

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Photos: 2015 Villars Big

Photos from the 2015 GivenGain Dinner & Villars Big concert, our annual Alpine rendezvous in the company of friends. We think the photos look fantastic (thanks to Luke & Lee). As usual, we have not tagged anyone - but if you would still prefer us to remove one or more you appear on, let us know.

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Board Changes

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Board Changes

This just to let you know that Johan le Roux has been elected to GivenGain International's board of directors and that Philip de Bruin is retiring after 14 years of service.

Johan completed a B.Comm degree in Institutional Investments at the University of Stellenbosch (2000), and spent 10 years working on the application of information-based strategies in retail credit before setting up Rational Expectations. He also serves on the board of many portfolio companies, as well as the JSE-listed Digicore Holdings Limited. He is married to Paula, lives in Cape Town, and has three children.

Johan's appointment to the board of our international holdings company (with Michiel le Roux as alternate director) follows the recent investment by Rational Expectations in our group. We believe their strong experience, especially in innovative financial services businesses, will be extremely valuable as our business continues to grow around the world.

Philip de Bruin's relationship with GivenGain International dates back to 2001, when he joined the company as director. A long-time resident of the Italian enclave of Campione d'Italia in Switzerland, Philip co-founded Epi-Use in 1994 – concluding, as its CEO, a software development and consulting partnership with SAP AG. Also under his leadership, Epi-Use expanded into an offshore holding group with more than 200 employees and subsidiaries in South Africa, the USA, UK and Australia.

Philip's contributions to our business are immeasurable and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude. He has provided valuable leadership, insight and guidance during our formative years and we will sincerely miss him.
 

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Second Quarter 2015 PayProp SA Rental Index

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Second Quarter 2015 PayProp SA Rental Index

Yes, the year is halfway done, and as always we are ready with the latest data, analysis and insights for investors in the South African residential letting market. Not only does the PayProp Rental Index give you all the statistics and trends to base better business decisions on, it also boasts an entirely new section this year, covering tenant risk.

This quarter, we again broadened our tenancy data set to better understand some of the underlying rental trends that we are seeing.

Some of the burning questions we address are: what influences rental increases; how are deposits priced; and what does an average tenant's risk profile look like? It's another great read. Enjoy the new insights!

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GivenGain Foundation welcomes Benoît Merkt as Director

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GivenGain Foundation welcomes Benoît Merkt as Director

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A very big welcome to Dr. Benoît Merkt as he takes up his appointment as a director to the GivenGain Foundation board!

Benoît is an attorney at law and partner at Lenz & Staehelin, the largest law firm in Switzerland. His many distinctions include being a member of the Geneva, Swiss and International Bar Associations; the Legal Council of Swiss Foundations; and the Association of Swiss Grant Making Foundations.

He is also a member/former member of the board of several international public utility foundations; a regular speaker at Swiss and international conferences in the fields of competition law and philanthropy; and the author of numerous publications in those fields.

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