Home News Five SA tech startups acquired by international firms

Five SA tech startups acquired by international firms

South Africa might not be at the forefront when it comes to technological innovation, but sometimes we do managed to produce companies that catch the eye of some of the world’s biggest players.

With the news that Cape Town-based WooThemes has been acquired by Automattic, we rounded up four other South African companies that have all been acquired by international entities.


For many years, if you wanted to turn your WordPress website into an online store, you downloaded the WooCommerce plug-in from WooThemes.com.

That particular addition to WordPress websites has been so popular that it ranks as one of the top 10 WordPress plug-ins of all time – and the company behind WordPress took note.

WooThemes announced recently that Automattic (WordPress’ creator) acquired them for an undisclosed amount.

“Today marks the beginning of the next exciting chapter in our journey as WooThemes. The short and sweet of it – we are joining the Automattic family!” the company said in a blog post.

Tyme Capital

Branchless banking startup Tyme Capital was scooped up by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) earlier this year for an undisclosed amount – and the company was only three years old.

“We are delighted to announce that the Commonwealth Bank of Australia has acquired 100% of Tyme,” the Johannesburg-based company said in a media statement.

“This acquisition is a logical continuation of CBA’s strategy to pursue capability led growth outside Australia and one that reinforces CBA’s core strength in innovation and technology.”


Garmin is one of the world’s best-known Global Positioning System (GPS) makers, and when it is interested in your company, you know you have been doing something right.

That is exactly the position Stellenbosch-based startup iKubu found itself in. At the start of this year, Garmin announced that it acquired the company, which makes a radar and alert system for cyclists.

“iKubu was in the final stages of developing the Backtracker low-energy bike radar, a device that provides unparalleled situational awareness by giving the cyclist the speed and distance of vehicles that are approaching from behind,” Garmin said at the time.

The value of the transaction wasn’t disclosed.


Virtual gift card provider Gyft announced in July last year that it had been acquired by US payments giant First Data. Although the value of the deal wasn’t disclosed, it is widely believed to have been between R534 million and R1 billion.

“We are thrilled because this partnership will enable Gyft to power forward in the digital gifting space. For nearly twenty years, First Data has provided gift card programs to tens of thousands of merchants and you will soon reap the benefits of their innovation and expanded reach,” founder Vinny Lingham said in his blog post.

Capricorn Satellite Communications


South Africa is in really good standing with many international companies involved with satelitte tracking, manufacture and communications. One such company that makes sure that people are able to communicate globally is Capricorn Satellite Communications. Based in Johannesburg, the satellite communications company was acquired by UK-based Applied Satellite Technology to increase its global reach last year.

After the acqusition, the company rebranded as AST South Africa.

“Satellite technology is constantly evolving for both land and maritime industries. AST remain committed to providing the most up to date fixed and handheld satellite solutions and with providing our customers impartial expert advice. The addition of AST South Africa to the group of companies will increase our current reach, providing a base on the African continent and increased service provisions to our customer,” Gregory Darling, AST’s Managing Director said in a media statement.

AST is a provider of satellite communications for Inmarsat, Iridium, Thuraya and Globalstar networks. The value of the deal wasn’t disclosed.

Header image – CC by 2.0/epSos .de]

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