Google's oldest index dates back to 2001, and as much as the world as we know it has changed since then, much has remained the same. Brainstorm took a walk down search engine memory lane and found some old faces and long-forgotten names.
Telkom, back in 2001, was expecting competition for the first time in 2002. Or so it was thought. That competition didn't materialise until a few years later (Neotel launched 1 August 2006), but headlines at the time read, "CWU opposes Telkom privatisation", "Telkom to face multiple competitors, says Ngcaba", "Transtel/Eskom will be Telkom competition, says Radebe", and "Telkom stake to net R6bn". The company also launched its much-slated DSL service.
MTN, way back then, was still sponsoring the Gladiators (we've all been trying very hard to forget them), boasted a subscriber base of three million, and Johnnic (now Avusa) and MTN had just acquired 40 percent of Ebucks.com. Vodacom, meanwhile, passed the four-million subscriber mark in 2000 and by the end of 2001 hit the six million mark.
Datatec was selling its UUNet stake to WorldCom, for some $138.5 million and had overseas listings plans for group companies Logical, Mason and Westcon. Dimension Data, on the other hand, was experiencing some difficulties as a result of the dotcom bomb. Its market cap dropped some R10 billion that July after it issued a trading statement warning of falling margins, and it showed a huge loss by the end of the year.
Altech, conversely, showed solid growth that year, its headline earnings per share were 24 percent up on 2000, despite the knock many local IT stocks took in the wake of the global dotcom bomb hitting local shores about eight months after it hit overseas. EOH also returned good results, with revenue up 43 percent to R84 million, expansion of its ERP activities through the acquisition of Enterprise Softworx and a joint venture in Mauritius that saw EOH Mauritius opening.
A long list of companies left the JSE that year. Bynx Software delisted, CCH was acquired by MGX, Metropolis delisted, SecureData delisted, MMW liquidated, MWeb delisted, Logical Options delisted.
Most significantly for the local channel, Siltek Limited hit the wall. Some group companies, among them Workgroup and Siltek Telecomms (relaunched as Centratel), managed to MBO themselves out of the mess and live to tell the tale. Beyond the immediate fallout for the people and customers/suppliers involved was the credit crunch, which hit shortly thereafter and saw between R300 million and R400 million worth of credit removed from the dealer channel. This crunch dogs the industry to this day.
But enough of the deaths; the industry saw a few newborns too. Bytes Technology Group was born out of Usko and FinTech. Bytes Healthcare's Digital Healthcare Solutions was formed out of QEDI and Mediswitch. Arivia.kom was created out of Transnet and Eskom's IT bits and Ariel technologies. Cell C finally won its licence fight and launched.
Absa lost its free internet banking service fight. PeopleSoft SA closed, Nedcor invested in Net1 Applied Technology (recently returned to the SA scene) and PQ Africa became Comparex Africa (to become BCX some time later). It should probably be noted that Brainstorm was born that year too.
On the international front, Microsoft promised to stop spreading 'false' information about Novell, word of the proposed HP/Compaq merger hit the streets, Windows XP was launched, CommerceOne left the building, and, of course, the event that shook the world, the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Centre happened in 2001. An extremely eventful year all around, with interest rate hikes, stock drops, and altogether too many losses to count.
Google's ten-year birthday page can be found at www.google.com/search2001.html.
With thanks to Paul Booth's long-standing column on ITWeb, Paul Furber's Siltek piece run in Brainstorm in November 2002, and all of those companies that have online information dating back further than the bits they like to remember.