Bob van Dijk joined Naspers on August 1, 2013, to take the position of CEO of Allegro Group. On April 1, 2014, he was appointed the Group CEO of Naspers and eventually became the CEO of Prosus when it was listed on Amsterdam Stock Exchange in September 2019. Holding such an executive office has been worthwhile for Dijk; he is the highest-paid board chairman in the Netherlands. While on average chairpersons earn €2 million, Dijk raked in nearly €15 million in 2019. You can learn more about him from the facts below.
1. He is Fluent in Five Languages
Dijk can speak five languages though it is not clear which ones precisely. Since he is from the Netherlands, we can conclude one of them is Dutch. Also, going by the fact that he is leading a multinational company, English is necessary.
2. His Career Started at McKinsey
In 2013, Observer published an article saying that almost daily, there has to be news about McKinsey. It is usually positive, and the author opined that there is no doubt McKinsey is the most efficient top-tier corporate executive generator worldwide. It is nearly guaranteed that getting a consulting job at McKinsey will have you one day running a big corporation. Dijk began his career there and is now the CEO of Europe's largest internet consumer firm, proving this observation true. His chances of landing the position were high, going by a 2008 study which concluded that the possibility of a McKinsey consultant becoming a public company CEO was the best worldwide.
3. He Was Praised as the Best E-Commerce Man Worldwide
When Koos Bekker stepped down as the CEO of Naspers, he said the man they were bringing in is the best in e-commerce globally. The person Bekker was talking about was Dijk, and going by his CV, the description fits. Since Naspers ventured into e-commerce in 2008, they needed a capable man to lead them to prosperity and Dijk was qualified. His ability to effectively manage German eBay in his various capacities as the Vice President and Managing Director made Dijk the ideal candidate.
4. His Education
The CEO is a well-educated man who holds two masters. According to News24, he got his Master of Science degree in Econometrics from Erasmus University, Rotterdam. As per some reports, the institution can be selective depending on the faculty a student wants to join. He was an average student since the GPA required to join Erasmus University is 3.0, and he graduated cum laude. Dijk also went to INSEAD for his MBA, and the institution boasts of being among the top business schools. The acceptance rate for an MBA program is 31%, and students' academic scores need to be consistent to show they can keep up with the rigorous training. The CEO, therefore, worked hard and managed to be on the Dean's List.
5. Why He Loves Doing Business in India
Dijk told The Hindu BusinessLine that he will continue doing business in India for years to come. By 2020, Naspers had invested almost $5 billion in five years, but the investment in India began around 2006. His main attraction in India is that the country offers large market size, it is progressive, and Indians are entrepreneurs.
6. He Fears Being Out-Innovated
The CEO believes that the internet business is currently on the right track, but if any other innovation comes to disrupt the business models, his company will be in trouble. Still, he acknowledges that change is inevitable, and it is only a matter of time. For this reason, he hopes that the shift delays for at least 20 years because any disruption in less than five years will have the business on its knees. He said that this knowledge mainly informs the decision to do business in China and India.
7. He Hopes That Governments Will Regulate Internet Business
Dijk said that investors care about predictability, and he is grateful to the Indian government for regulating the payment systems. Although he is impressed by the strides that the Indian government has made in the payments sector, he is worried about the internet space. He cited that many businesses start unregulated, but with time, policies are made. The internet space is no different, but even if the government has attempted to regulate it, the CEO still is wary because he has witnessed politics affecting policies.
8. He is Afraid That Gig Economy Changes Will Hurt Prosus
According to The New York Times, many tech giants are worried about digital services taxes being rolled out in Europe. Fortunately for Prosus, the company does not invest internationally; therefore, such taxes will not apply to it. However, he is afraid of changes, such as delivery drivers being entitled to worker benefits. He said that even if Prosus tries to pay its workers fairly regardless of the legislation, some drivers still prefer being independent contractors instead of employees.
9. He Foresees Prosus Being in Competition with SPACs
Special Purpose Acquisition Companies(SPACs) are shell corporations established strictly to raise capital to acquire an existing company. He said that in future, Prosus could find itself competing with SPACs, but in the meantime, it has invested in such a company already. However, Prosus does not need a SPAC to invest in an existing business. The firm has prioritized investing in its portfolio, and Dijk believes that putting money in such business is a good idea hence Prosus bought back $5 billion of its shares.
10. He Does Not Seem to Like South Africans
According to VentureBurn, Naspers was established by South Africans for South Africans. However, the article cites that when Dijk was appointed to the CEO position, he removed all the South African senior executives and replaced them with his friends from eBay. The author wrote that the situation is so bad that the Naspers executive team has been nicknamed the eBay B-Team. Furthermore, as the author enlightens us, Dijk has split up the Naspers international business so that none of it operates in South Africa.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee