Matthew Buckland is a South African Internet entrepreneur and businessman who is the founder of Creative Spark – a digital agency and publisher which was acquired in 2015 by UK firm M&C Saatchi PLC (LSE: SAA), the holding group of M&C Saatchi. Buckland is also the founder of Burn Media, a suite of technology publishing brands which includes Memeburn, Ventureburn.com, Gearburn.com and others.
Buckland previously headed the online division of the Mail & Guardian, thereafter he started 20fourlabs at news24.com, the largest South African online news publisher, owned by Naspers. While at the Mail & Guardian Buckland founded Thought Leader.
In 2015 he was selected as a “Master of Digital”, sitting down with actor Idris Elba for a “Q&A Session”. Buckland lives in Cape Town with his wife and two daughters. Named as one of “SA’s top 100 most influential media and advertising people” (The Annual), Matthew is an internet professional who has worked in the internet space for the past 20 years.
In 2015 he was selected in Fast Company Magazine’s Most Creative People in Business and in 2014 he was selected as an “Oude Meeste Master of Digital”, sitting down for an onscreen discussion with well-known actor Idris Elba to talk about being an entrepreneur and the changing digital environment. In 2011 he was listed in Destiny Magazines feature, “Power of 40: 40 Entrepreneurs under 40 doing interesting things”. He was a founding board member of the Silicon Cape, an entity that fosters startup growth in South Africa. He was also a founding board member of digital media & marketing industry bodies like the OPA and IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) in various capacities.
Matthew previously worked for the BBC Online (beeb.com division) in London, and internet multi-national Naspers which owns South Africa’s largest online operation 24.com, first as the GM of Publishing, and then going on to found and head up the award-winning 20FourLabs, which went on to win the Nokia mobile app innovation challenge. At Naspers he completed a Harvard Business School Executive Education Course for future leaders with focus on online business and social networking. Prior to this he headed up online news publisher Mail & Guardian Online for seven years (co-owned by Guardian Newspapers Limited), turning the online division into a profitable entity for the first time in its history and founding the Webby Honoree-award winning Thought Leader. He’s also had stints at Avusa, Carte Blanche and iafrica.com.
Matthew has served as a judge for various industry awards from the Bookmarks, to Social Media Week, to the Sikuvile journalism awards and the NextWeb Startup awards. He has spoken and guest-lectured on online media issues around the world, including New York, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Ireland and Kenya. He was also proud to share the stage with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in a talk on “Future Web Trends” in 2007, and Craigslist creator Craig Newmark at the IIE Goldman Sachs Global Leaders in New York in 2008.
In 2010 Buckland founded Creative Spark and Burn Media, which he funded himself after being unable to raise venture capital for it. Five years later, in 2015, he sold a majority share in his company to the FTSE-listed agency, M&C Saatchi for a rumoured R50- million..
The deal included the sale of both the digital agency and the publishing arm, which owns titles such as Memeburn and Ventureburn.. Ventureburn is a site that reports on the startup, entrepreneur and investor ecosystems in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.
He was the Master of Ceremonies at the launch event and elected to the inaugural board of the Silicon Cape Initiative, a South African-based organization which aims to turn the Western Cape into a high-tech startup hub.
In 2012 Buckland was recognised in the Power of 40: 40 Entrepreneurs Under 40 “Doing Interesting Things”
In 2013 and 2014 he was a member of the Cape Town chapter of Entrepreneurs Organisation.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rhodes University, with three majors in journalism, philosophy and history. Matthew is a new media graduate and knows no other medium!