AI fundamentally important to Naspers strategy - CEO

Naspers [JSE:NPN] is elevating its focus on innovation in the areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning, shareholders heard.

Speaking at the Annual General Meeting on Friday, CEO Bob van Dijk explained the importance of artificial intelligence and machine learning to not only develop intellectual property for the group but also address day-to-day challenges.

“The impact of machine learning and artificial intelligence on our products is almost impossible to overestimate… All the products we build will be fundamentally powered by machine learning,” he said.

Similarly, in his opening remarks to shareholders, chairperson Koos Bekker said that there is now a drive towards investment in artificial intelligence and machine learning, compared to three years ago when the tech mantra was to go mobile.

Naspers’s business model has evolved in the past 10 years, Van Dijk explained. A decade ago 90% of revenue was driven by its media and video entertainment business, currently 80% of revenue is yielded from its online businesses, he explained.

Van Dijk anticipates that in a few years 100% of revenue will be driven by online business. That said, Van Dijk believes Media24 and MultiChoice are transforming into online businesses - and they are doing it well.

E-commerce businesses, which depended on the value created by MultiChoice, have started turning profitable, Van Dijk said. And proceeds from the sale of part of the group’s stake in Tencent earlier this year will also go towards pursuing growth opportunities in non-traditional business-like classifieds, online payments and online food delivery, among others.

Changing media space

Given the disruption in the media space, Van Dijk said that traditional media is being replaced with something that allows more engagement. He punted the News24 app, which has growing engagement among users.

“As things change we will need fewer printers and more software engineers,” he said.

* Fin24 is part of 24.com, a division of Media24, which is a subsidiary of Naspers.

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