ITWeb is 25 today!
ITWeb, www.itweb.co.za, was born with the idea to bring together IT and telecommunications companies, the media (IT editors and journalists) and IT-focused PR companies.
It quickly broadened its reach and evolved into South Africa’s first daily news service for the South African IT community – IT professionals, vendors and buyers of IT and telecoms products and services, IT industry analysts and commentators, as well as financial analysts and investors interested in the technology sector.
Jovan Regasek founded ITWeb in March 1996, two years after he arrived in South Africa from Belgrade, Serbia, then still part of what remained of war-torn Yugoslavia.
Regasek left behind a legacy of media innovation in his native country – he founded and edited the first PC technology magazine and launched Serbia’s first BBS (bulletin board system, a computer-to-server dial-up communication network).
At the time of his arrival in SA, the South African IT media sector was dominated by weekly trade publications Computer Week, a System Publishers title (for which Regasek worked first as editor of a consumer PC magazine, and later as a features writer), and SA Computing.
ITWeb was born online. It was one of the first, if not the first, genuine online media company without a presence in traditional media.
Early marketing material says: “ITWeb is redefining the IT sector by using innovative, in-house-developed Web applications to disseminate news and information from and to our target industries, and to bring together users and suppliers of information technologies. Our competitive advantage is a deep understanding of our target industries and the ways Web technologies can be best used to enhance news and information delivery.”
The most defining factor of ITWeb’s success was its business model and its flagship product, which is still going strong to this day – ITWeb’s Virtual Press Office. The model was based on service delivery through long-term contracts, rather than on short-term and ad hoc advertising or other common revenue streams.
“Content or software as a service, with annual subscriptions, is nowadays a common model on the Internet and in our industry in general,” says Regasek. “When I reflect on the last 25 years, I’m proud of the contribution ITWeb has been making not only to the ICT industry, which we serve, but to the country’s economy as a whole, through job creation and contribution to the government’s revenue.”
As one of the first successful online media companies, ITWeb was an inspiration and encouragement for many entrepreneurs to follow its example – some of them are today running successful media companies themselves, notes Regasek.
Throughout ITWeb’s history, more than 700 permanent employees have worked on making what our brand is today. Some came and went, and others are still with the company. But each and every one of them left a mark.
Critical to the company’s success, Regasek says, is that ITWeb managed to put together in a very early stage a strong, competent, dedicated management team, steering the company for more than 20 years.
Robert Mace was in charge of sales – he assembled and ran an efficient, successful sales team. Angela Wressell looked after CRM and the company’s operations, and was instrumental in forming the events division. Sinisa Jovanovic looked after technology and software development. All of ITWeb’s Web and desktop applications were developed in-house.
Ranka Jovanovic was instrumental in forming and running a professional newsroom. ITWeb managed to build its editorial team quickly and to soon be recognised as the dominant IT news provider – a trusted, authoritative, centralised source of up-to-the-minute information about South African technology companies as well as international IT players active in the local market.
“A quarter of a century is a long time, especially so in our industry. So much has changed but ITWeb has remained constant in its focus on the professional tech sector, and on editorial excellence without compromise,” says Ranka Jovanovic. “I'm proud that ITWeb has been the training ground for hundreds of journalists and editors, and our editorial team continues to nurture journalistic integrity.”
Today, ITWeb employs 70 people in offices in Johannesburg and has a large pool of editorial contributors in South Africa and across English-speaking African ICT markets, as well as a team of software developers and tech support staff in Serbia.
During the past 25 years, ITWeb achieved many milestones. To complement and complete its media services, ITWeb launched Brainstorm magazine in 2002, an events division in 2006 and many other products, with online, events and print as the three pillars of the company.
Today, ITWeb reaches close to 100 000 readers with its daily and weekly newsletters and events; 250 000 users a month, on average, access the Web site; 12 000 people get Brainstorm magazine; and up to 33 000 people follow ITWeb on various social media platforms.
In 2018, the company decided to rejuvenate the management team and put in place young managers with a mandate and key focus to take the company into the digital age. Ivan Regasek (who was 13 at the time ITWeb was born) was appointed as CEO on 1 March 2018, bringing on board software engineering excellence and vision for the company’s digital future.
Masa Regasek, a CA with seven years’ experience, was appointed CFO/COO – managing operations and financials.
ITWeb is a family business. It’s a Level 4 Contributor to BBBEE and is 51% black-owned.
“Growing up with ITWeb, it's been much more than work to me; more so my life-long purpose,” says Ivan Regasek. “Starting my fourth year today as its leader, I am immensely proud of its role in the history of SA's ICT industry. I am also grateful for our opportunity to build on the work of its pioneers and continue our values of servicing and connecting our industry. ITWeb, like our young democracy, is not perfect and we have our challenges, but we are maturing and I do firmly believe the best is yet ahead of us.”