Hayibo is back, thanks to an angel investor in the form of Cape Media. The satirical site was to finally shut shop – it had remained live in order to sell merchandise – when the publishing company stepped in, its CEO a particular fan of the site.
“I always thoroughly enjoyed the site and was gutted when they closed. Quality satire is topical, entertaining and can remain funny without being vulgar, malicious or biased, this is a rare treat and more difficult to pull off than it seems. Hayibo is a world class example of this and it seemed iniquitous that we could lose something that good,” said CEO, Andrew Fehrsen.
Tom Eaton, one of the writers who form the backbone of the site’s satirical stories, explained that when they announced Hayibo’s closure in September “four or five businesspeople came out in support of us, all vaguely promising money or suggesting buyouts to keep us alive.
“I’m sure they had good intentions but ultimately it was all talk. I think we’d stopped actively looking for a sponsor by the end of they year and had already processed the death of Hayibo when Cape Media suddenly knocked on the door.”
As TheMediaOnline reported recently, good South African satire, such as Hayibo and ZA News, have battled to find sponsors. Many believe it’s because corporates don’t want to annoy government.
“Yes, it is a risk we considered carefully and we’re satisfied that their approach is responsible and balanced enough,” said Fehrsen. “My main concern is heat from our FD who lives in Fish Hoek <http://www.hayibo.com/?s=fish+hoek> , a suburb that has received a fair amount of attention from Hayibo.“
Fehrsen added that Hayibo would retain “complete” control of the content. “Tom, who is largely the genius behind the writing, will continue to marshal all content and while some of us may try our hand at satire it will all still go though Tom. It would be senseless to mess with that. Our input will concentrate on operations and our relationships with advertisers and sponsors who we hope to show that the benefits of an association far outweigh the risks,” he said.
Eaton said satire in SA has always been on “extremely shaky ground because it confronts and challenges our deeply ingrained herd mentality. South African in general don’t understand satire, don’t trust it and don’t enjoy it”.
“But for some reason satire has become cool recently without people really knowing what it is: I constantly see comedians described as satirists when all they’ve done is tell a political (or racist) joke, and the other day I saw a film-maker earnestly explaining that his movie was “a kind of a satire because it deals with the world as it is”. Not a clue. Not that satire is an exclusive club – we need more – but when jolly wags tell racist fart jokes and call it satire it makes our job a little harder. Of course it also gives us a new target, so maybe that’s not a bad thing after all…”
Cape Media’s investment takes the form of cash and operational assistance in getting it financially viable. “It’s small when compared to the tragedy of losing a national treasure like Hayibo,” Fehrsen said. But Cape Media, he said, “Several humorous lunches and the ride of a partnership with Hayibo.”
Eaton said two new writers had already been employed, and that they were “a couple of things we’d like to add and update more often but nothing radical”.
Response to the news that Hayibo is back has been “excellent”.
“A lot of people are very passionate about Hayibo, a fact we only discovered when we closed down. Most of the old fans seem to be coming back and we’ve had a sudden surge of new signups to the newsletter so all in all it’s a very positive comeback,” he said.
Eaton said while he didn’t know the exact nuts and bolts of the arrangement – “I’m just ‘a cree-hative’ as people say these day” – he hopes Cape Media will “give us a punt, at least in their own media stable”.
In the meantime, the social networks are abuzz, and @Hayibo’s 6 224 followers on Twitter are delighted the satirical site is back. Will Tom be tweeting? “I personally don’t tweet – I have performance anxiety .”
Follow Hayibo on Twitter: @Hayibo