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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