About me

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Hmn, so you really want to find out more about me? That’s weird, but I suppose an ‘About me’ page is just the place for that…

World map

I was born and raised in a small town in provincial South Africa — a life I look back on with immense pride and joy and one I am in no hurry to return to. After high school, I graduated with a degree in Marketing and Business Management from the University of Pretoria.

During my university years, I got my first taste of travelling: backpacking around Europe, hitchhiking, and riding chicken buses up the East African coast. Two days after graduation, I was on a one-way flight to Asia, and I ended up in Taiwan, a place I called home for the next three years. There, I studied Chinese, taught English and had the opportunity to extensively travel Southeast Asia. I then spent a year as a Marketing Assistant at The Smithsonian Associates (the other, nice TSA) in Washington D.C. After that I lived in Chengdu, China for two years, working as the Marketing Manager of a design firm.

After China, I moved back to South Africa and spent the next seven years in the beautiful city of Cape Town.

I headed to the Mother City without clear plans; maybe do some networking and research, maybe do an MBA, or maybe just drop anchor for a few months before moving on, who knows? After a week of online networking, coffee, and beer (a third pint clinking the deal on what would become my next job), I decided to pursue opportunities in my native South Africa instead. What a blast.

I’ve always been very passionate about finance, payments, and technology. First, I held the position of Head of Marketing at the fast-growing online payments startup PayFast, for around four years. I joined as the fourth employee and oversaw an incredible period of growth (at last count, post-acquisition, they employed over 70 people).

In 2013, I got involved in crypto in my personal, curious capacity, and later I joined a pioneering Bitcoin and cryptocurrency company: Luno (formerly known as BitX). Again, I was one of the first handful of employees at the startup. In a few short and crazy years, we grew to a staff of hundreds with offices and operations on multiple continents. We were the first and largest crypto company in Africa, leading the market in many, many other countries. I’ve had the opportunity to get my hands dirty, build great things, travel, and help grow our footprint across the world, including Europe, Singapore, Nigeria, Malaysia, and Indonesia (where I spent a few months in Jakarta to help scale our regional operations). The mix of the right product at the right time, crazy hard work with a ridiculously talented team, and a big dollop of luck paid off and Luno was eventually acquired.

After leaving Luno, I said goodbye to South Africa once more (or make that: “See you later” or even: “See you every year for a holiday”). Since then, I’ve been spending my time mostly on the road, mostly in Latin America. I keep my life and mind occupied with multiple side projects and experiments, related to finance, decentralised systems, writing, music, and my favourite “free three”: mountains, the ocean, and the sun. I will go down deep conversation wormholes on the modern-day struggle of centralisation of power; (lack of) digital privacy; technology; music; personal finance; politics; long-distance running; cross-country paragliding; and home-brewed beer (in no particular order).

I’m currently enjoying “rewirement”, but I’m open to discussing project-based remote consulting and certain equity-based opportunities. I am not available for permanent or in-office positions.  Lastly, I’m an investor in a handful of companies, focused on health-tech, fin-tech, and DeFi.

About me

Werner van Rooyen

Formerly Business Development and Marketing at Luno (where we went from eight nerds in a tiny office to hundreds of people spread over three continents) and before that Marketing at PayFast. Currently investing, paragliding, and doing research, mostly in Mexico.