No. 194: Zoom | Sony Gets in the Ride-Share Game | Can’t Be a One-Trick Pony

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom! The Exclusive Inside Story Of The New Billionaire Behind Tech’s Hottest IPO

While reading this piece, all I could think about was how different Zoom was from other Silicon Valley unicorns-turned public companies that are more well-known. The company registered to go public with a profit after having already turned a profit. Contrast that with companies like Uber which has had one profitable quarter and is pushing for a $120B valuation at its upcoming IPO.

Apparently, the CEO Eric Yuan reimburses the company even for smaller expenses like swag. Contrast that with Evan Spiegel who recorded $900k in security costs when Snap filed to go public. Yuan recorded no other compensation from Zoom, granted Snap was/is a cultural phenomenon and Zoom is far from that.

Further, there’s so much talk about the mercenary culture in Silicon Valley and how startups need to have all sorts of perks in order to retain talent. I’d be really interested to hear what it was about Zoom that enabled it to grow to 1,700 employees despite not having the flashiest office space.

The startup world has built this calculus around growth trumping profitability. Zoom seems to knock against that. I look forward to seeing how it’s IPO impacts the culture across the valley, particularly with its newly minted set of millionaire employees investing some of their capital in fledgling startups.

Sony becomes Uber’s newest rival in Japan

This can’t be too exciting a development for Japanese e-commerce Rakuten, also the largest investor in newly public Lyft. Rakuten’s CEO Hiroshi Mikitani has talked about his company’s investment in Lyft as more research than competitive move, but with a nearly $3B stake in the company they have got to be itching for Lyft to expand beyond the U.S. and the few Canadian cities where it operates.

It’s time to rethink oil and gas as a funding source for development

The extent to which resource-rich African countries are still placing their bets on oil and gas being the primary driver of their countries’ development induces anxiety. Kurt Davis does an effective job providing cases on Angola, Sudan, South Sudan, Angola, Mozambique, and Tanzania and how they’re probably going to find themselves stuck with their current approach to meeting their budgets and developing their countries. He goes on to map out how the thinking of policymakers needs to shift in order for these sort of countries to begin diversifying their economies. As I think about the rapid changes in technology and how software is driving so much change in how the world works, I really hope policymakers wake up.

No. 44: My A-Listers For Africa – Business and Policy

For quite some time, I have wanted to distill my sources for information and analysis on business and policy across Africa. I will try to keep this post updated with a list of the people I follow for insights. Some post long-form content. Some stick to Twitter. Here goes:

Razia Khan – Head of Macro Research for Standard Chartered Bank. When big economic events happen on the continent, I automatically go to her Twitter feed to see what she thinks about them.

Chuba Ezekwesili – Has good insights on Nigeria’s economics.

Jason Njoku – One of the more outspoken entrepreneurs on the continent when it comes to making sense of building a business on the continent.

Ory Okolloh Mwangi – Keeps me hip to Kenya’s political environment. Look out for her waving her BS flag.

Chris Becker – Lead Economist at African Alliance. African Alliance always put out helpful intelligence on what’s happening across the continent. Chris will occasionally send out a post from his personal blog.

Eliot Pence – Director at McLarty & Associates. Publishes sharp insights on US-Africa policy.

Aubrey Hruby – Visiting Fellow at The Atlantic Council. She and Jake Bright are coming out with a book this year, I believe, on Africa’s business environment.

Brian Laung Aoeh – Partner at KEC Ventures. Most of his portfolio is US and Israel-focused, but he pays a lot of attention to the technology space in Africa.

Patrice Backer – COO at AFIG Funds. Posts frank insights on business and political events across the continent.

Eric-Vincent Guichard – Founder of Homestrings.com. Whenever foreign direct investment comes up in the news, I go to see what Eric is saying about it.

Bobby Pittman – Founder of Kupanda Capital. Like following his posts because of his background working in the US government and at the African Development Bank and when I’m looking for insights on infrastructure development on the continent.

Rolake Akinkugbe – Runs Energy and Natural Resources desk at FBN Capital. Doesn’t post a lot of content, but does make frequent appearances on CNBC Africa.

Todd Moss – As news of the attempted coup in Gambia emerged, I read it all through the lens of the Golden Hour, Todd’s first novel. In his day job, he runs the Center for Global Development.

Jake Bright – Whitehead Fellow at the Foreign Policy Association. Writes for FT This is Africa, Bloomberg, and Quartz to name a few. He has basically carried the Africa standard at Bloomberg Radio, educating the listening audience on Africa’s bond markets, infrastructure development, technology sector and more. Check out the link to The Next Africa, the book he and Aubrey Hruby have coming out soon.

Ibrahim Saigna – Runs Century Private Investments. He doesn’t publish a lot, but he provides helpful insights on Africa’s finance environment when he does.

Jacqueline Musiitwa – Legal Counsel and Assistant to the President at PTA Bank. She and Ibrahim have collaborated on some good pieces.

Kurt Davis, Jr. – Investment banker at Barclays. Writes sharp insights on a number of industries and the political environment on the continent.

Paul Wallace – Reporter at Bloomberg. Consistently good analysis.

Aly-Khan Satchu – Operates on a 26-hour day. That’s the only way I have been able to make sense of how productive he is.