- This piece on Jack Dorsey being named as CEO of Twitter while keeping the CEO reins at Square is pretty poor. How do you give recent examples of folks successfully running multiple companies without discussing what is enabling them to get this done? Yet, you reach back to 1990 to pull out a worst case situation, mention that Elon Musk and Carlos Ghosn say running two companies is hard and one should avoid it, and conclude that Jack isn’t listen to the right advice. The piece should have progressed something like: 1) This is a bad case from years ago. 2) Here are some more recent cases and reasons why they avoided the bad case from years ago. 3) This is really hard and not advisable for most. Since Jack is going forward with this, this is what he should consider.
- Growing up, my dad often talked about the unappreciated genius of artisans in Ghana. Ory Okolloh Mwangi and Bobby Pittman, among others have touted the huge potential of the creative industry across Africa. This piece discusses the Rwanda government’s efforts to invest in its creative industry with the help of the Swedes. In the mean time, check out Oxosi – a startup bringing high-end African fashion to the US. It should be launching soon.
- Here’s some interesting analysis of greenfield investments in Africa still being led by the western countries. On the other side of Africa-bound FDI, here is an interesting report from the Financial Times’ Africa Summit on how African countries will deal with depressed currencies, China’s slowing, and falling commodity prices (I saw $1.90 gas the other day, and my heart fluttered).
- It’s an advertising company! It’s an infrastructure company! It’s, it’s Google! What doesn’t this company, now a portfolio company of Alphabet, do? Google is trenching around 1,000km of fiber optic cables to connect Accra, Tema and Kumasi. Through Project Link, internet service providers will buy capacity from Google to offer to consumers, unlike Google Fiber here in the US, which is sold directly to consumers. With all the new of companies trying to put stuff in the air to bring internet to less developed regions, it’s nice to have a more grounded project in the works.
- Apple showed more signs of being serious about addressing its diversity issue with the appointment of Jim Bell as a board member. I thought the former CFO at Boeing had gone across my radar at some point. Sure enough, he used to be board chair of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust. Read up on the Trust. The concept is intriguing. Unfortunately, it looks like his tenure did not go well. Here’s to the Apple experience being awesome for him.
- Check out the new site launched by the team at PushBlack.They’re doing good work. Salute!
- Aly-Khan Satchu, one of the most respected equity investors in Kenya, discusses briefly how US-China cooperation would be a benefit to African countries. This aligns with comments Bobby Pittman, managing director of Kupanda Capital made at a session discussing the Electrify Africa Act. More on that sometime later this week.
- There are rumors of Anheuser-Busch InBev making a bid to acquire SABMiller. Here’s a good piece on how important the African beer market is to that deal.
- Steve Case was in Baltimore yesterday as part of his Rise of the Rest tour to highlight the entrepreneurial spirit in other cities around the country. Here’s a piece on his excitement about the city’s potential. I felt so much energy during the Baltimore Bike Party last Friday night and was amazed by the energy and excitement of participants and onlookers. We rode through parts of Baltimore that have seen hard times for a long time, including the areas where rioting took place following Freddy Gray’s death. Yet, I felt a belief and pride in the city. Rooting for Baltimore.
- You’ve probably seen the news of Martin Winterkorn’s resignation from his CEO post at the Volkswagen Group. Rough year for this guy. Earlier in the year, VW Group supervisory board chair Ferdinand Piech publicly stated that there was distance between him and Winterkorn. I wonder if anything related to this discovery of VW vehicles emitting pollutants up to 40 times the legal amount contributed to that distance. Look for Andrew Ross Sorkin to analyze Winterkorn’s apology (or lack thereof), and Harvard Business School to put out some case studies on leadership, the impact of government regulation on commerce, family-controlled businesses, and trust.
- New African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina announced yesterday that Dr. Sipho Moyo would be his Chief of Staff. My Howard University alum friends will like this, considering that she did quite a bit of graduate work there. Add Dr. Moyo to the list of women I’ll be pointing my daughter to. (As an aside, the little one has been killing it at school. She turns three in a couple weeks and is the youngest in her class that has students who will turn six during the school year. The feedback has been shock that she is so young, yet so vocal. That’s my girl!)
- I just finished up Zero to One by Peter Thiel. It’s provides helpful insight into how one of the most successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs/investors thinks. In unpacking his perspective on the ingredients to building a company as meaningful as Facebook, PayPal, Palantir, and Netscape, he traces the evolution of the technology industry before and after the dot com bubble and addresses how our society tracks individuals to not put together the building blocks necessary to do big things. At a more granular level, he gives his perspective on building technology, marketing, creating a team of people who know each other really well, and the list goes on. I will probably give this one another read. Some of the thinking in the technology world is pretty fascinating. Some of it is a bit scary. The concept of singularity, for example, is something I need to chew on. Basically, it is that concept of humans transcending our limitations exponentially thanks to technology. Here’s Singularity evangelist Ray Kurzweil discussing the idea. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Antifragile – the book I mentioned in my last post, says not nice things about Kurzweil in the book. Essentially, Taleb is all about stripping away things that he thinks make us die sooner – technology, GMOs, etc. Kurzweil is all about building tools that he thinks will make us immortal – technology, GMOs, etc.
- Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance landed a senior advisory role with the asset management firm, Lazard, in their sovereign advisory practice. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala faced a good bit of criticism the last few years of her tenure, with the perception that she was quiet on corruption issues, unlike former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Lamido Sanusi Lamido. So, her landing a nice paying role to advise countries in the background on all things finance should be a nice break. She has consistently countered criticism with the argument that she was focused on building institutions that countered corruption. We’ll have to see how much of those systems fare now that President Muhamad Buhari has focused his energy on rooting out corruption throughout the government, even if that means not having a cabinet several months into his administration.
- Investors are challenging Bob Diamond to show, not tell, them about his bullishness in the growth prospects of Atlas Mara, the bank holding company he founded with Ashish Thakkar. Bob Diamond is facing criticism from investors for not putting more skin in the game by buying back shares of the company and limiting executive pay at the firm, especially with the firm’s share price halving in the nearly two years Atlas Mara has been public. Jason Calacanis’ dressing down of technology entrepreneurs who don’t have what it takes came to mind while reading the admonishment Leon Cooperman gave Diamond during their most recent conference call. It’s really interesting following people like Diamond, Eike Batista, and Halsey Minor. They take these pretty enormous stumbles, and keep coming back. The desire to win is a powerful thing.
- I’m finishing up Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It’s a strongly opinionated read on how things can get stronger through adversity. Taleb approaches the material from a risk management perspective, and has a great voice. He holds nothing back in lobbing insults at people who exhibit behavior that makes things fragile, in his opinion. The content is a little dense at times, but mostly accessible. Give it a read.
I couldn’t see oncoming traffic as I tried to make a left turn after picking up my daughter yesterday evening. A car slowed to a stop to give me space to pull out and the driver waved for me to come through.
Typically, people wave at you to let you know that they are giving you space to come out. This guy was waving more aggressively and I could see that he was looking at oncoming traffic to let me know that the coast was clear.
After I pulled out, I waved and he gave me a thumbs up. The feeling of gratitude I had in that moment got me thinking about the folks over the years who have pointed out my blind spots in how I treated people, approached my work, competed in athletics.
Imagine if I didn’t have the guy there to help me where I couldn’t see. I would have had to wait for quite some time before traffic cleared enough for me to be able to see. Or, I could have chanced it, pulled out and risked a serious accident.
The folks who point out our blind spots are invaluable. Making the effort to be open to their guidance is invaluable. Let’s all help and get help with blind spots.
What else? What are some times when you have helped, or been helped with a blind spot?
- Take a look at the tweet below. If you follow economic development across Africa, you have seen the referenced charts. All I will say about the paternalism in this tweet is that the reasons for optimism about Africa go back further than 60 years. Moving on.
- Scott Galloway, a professor at NYU, said that the only reason Marissa Mayer will not be fired from her CEO post at Yahoo is because she announced she is pregnant with twins. Adam Grant, a fellow professor at Wharton, should probably give him a call.
- Very interesting profile of Uber and its CEO Travis Kalanick. Warning: It is long. With the ongoing debate around the lack of people of color, I was glad to see that Ade Olonoh runs one of Travis’ portfolio companies. These Nigerians, sha. They are everywhere. Also, I need to read Atlas Shrugged.