Why Emilian Popa is the best thing to happen to Groupon South Africa


photoAs Daniel Guasco and Wayne Gosling, (the two founders of Twangoo which was acquired by Groupon and rebranded as Groupon South Africa after six months in existence) leave the firm, some people think its dangerous to have  them exit the firm even if ti was struggling.

But the appointment of Emilian Popa as Groupon SA’s new CEO might be the best thing to ever happen to the firm as it transitions from a daily deals platform to being a marketplace.

Popa has been there, done that and reinvented the wheel.

The web entrepreneur has been involed in building and growing firms such as Lamoda in Russia, Wimdu.com in Germany & China, Zando in South Africa, Jumia.com in Nigeria, Jabong.com in India and wait, Groupon itself in South Africa.

On his LinkedIn profile, Popa says, ” I know well and believe strongly in Africa: launched Jumia Nigeria 3 weeks after landing in Lagos, launched Zando in 6 weeks after landing in Cape Town, successfully built group buying venture in South Africa and exited to Groupon.”

Popa has worked in Angola, Gabon, Cameroun, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, Morocco and Algeria and has built and run Naspers’ backed Style36, 5rooms and Kinderelo.  The MBA Columbia Business School and London Business School earlier Given the technological and logistical challenges online retail still faces in Africa, some wonder if the hype is justified.

He would be the right person to monetize and help Groupon make a profit in a field he himself said was hard to monetize. Speaking at the Tech4Africa conference 2013, Popa said most ecommerce companies in Africa were losing money and it would be years before even the most successful would turn a profit.

In a statement Roy Blanga, Groupon’s IVP for Northern Europe was impressed by Popa’s appointment. “Poa is an innovative and passionate leader who greatly understands the needs of both merchants and consumers. He joins us at an exciting time, as we look to shortly roll out both a completely redesigned website and updated mobile apps in South Africa.”