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Thought Leaders in Big Data: Interview with Adriaan Van Wyk, CEO of K2 (Part 7)

Posted on Monday, Sep 9th 2013

Sramana Mitra: That is a great story. It says a lot about Cameron’s interest in funding you, and also that they really were a value-added firm.

Adriaan van Wyck: It has been fascinating. It is something that is not typical for VCs – sometimes they have to get out funds, there is pressure, you have to start changing what you do for the sake of VCs, etc. We just never had that pressure from Cameron.

SM: In terms of the mechanics of the deal, did Cameron and Azure Capital [become part of] the South African entity, or did you have to set up a U.S. entity and make the South African entity a subsidiary?

AW: We were doing a lot of federal government business at that point. In order to make that easier for us, we decided to see if we could incorporate the business in the U.S. South Africa at that point had and still has fairly strict rules about how you should do that and not do that. At the point at which Cameron invested, we had a U.S. corporation and he invested in it. It was never really a question of one decision over the other. The two things came together at the same point in time.

SM: So you set up a U.S. corporation and made the South African entity a subsidiary?

AW: Yes.

SM: How does that work with your South African investors?

AW: They applied and were allowed to become investors in the U.S. corporation. We pretty much rolled all the shareholding up into the U.S. corporation. Cameron was eager and willing to invest in foreign entities. It wasn’t a deal-breaking thing for him if he had to invest in a company in another country. We never went into detail about that, though, because it wasn’t applying to us anymore at that point.

SM: I love stories where entrepreneurs from other countries or other regions outside of Silicon Valley, which don’t have huge ecosystems, are able to build companies with global footprints. I am really impressed and delighted to hear your story.

AW: We were called crazy in the early days, because the last thing you do out of South Africa is to build a software company. It is 10-hour flight from any big market where we can sell.

I wanted to share one more thing with you, which is one of the best strategic decisions I ever made. People asked us why we picked Seattle as our head office, because it is one of the furthest points away from South Africa and we still have 120 developers there. We still develop our software there. If we picked New York for our head office, it would have been a lot easier for us, but we decided to put our head office in Seattle. A lot of people asked us why we did that. There is actually a simple reason for that. It was all driven by the fact that I met the most beautiful girl in my life in Seattle. I decided to open our head office there, and that is how we ended up in Seattle.

SM: It was a very nice interview. I really enjoyed hearing your story. Good luck with the next part of the journey. Goodbye.

AW: I appreciate that. Goodbye.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Thought Leaders in Big Data: Interview with Adriaan Van Wyk, CEO of K2
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