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. 158: 3AMReads: Tastemakers Africa 10-Year Plan | Safaricom Invests Nearly $2M in R&D Lab | Nigeria’s Petrol Corporation Moves Digital

Tastemakers Africa CEO Cherae Robinson Gives Us A Sneak Peak On Her 10-Year Plan and I’m Here For It

Marketplaces are powerful and have a track record of disrupting industries and building. See eBay and Airbnb. Look out for what Safaricom could build on its Mpesa platform if regulators don’t make the two break up.

Anyway, I’m really excited about what Cherae Robinson is building at Tastemakers Africa. She’s got a really cool vision for building a global experience marketplace driven by cultures around the world.

Cherae’s got the juice to make it happen and I’m excited about her changing the travel game around the world. I need to get my coins together so I can get on that cap table!

Safaricom Invests Nearly $2M in R&D Lab – Oil and Gas Players Should Take Notes

The prospect of Safaricom moving beyond importing telecom technologies and equipment to developing it’s own is really exciting! More of this sort of investment will create opportunities for innovation and connecting corporations with startups.

I mentioned in my blurb (3rd link) about Ighe Sanomi how I think oil and gas players should make these sorts of investments. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes.

Nigeria’s National Petroleum Corporation Receives Dozens of Bids to Digitize Records

The NNPC has been hounded for years by corruption claims. Billions of dollars have just gone missing upon hitting it’s coffers. Former Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi lost his job in efforts to uncover these missing billions (He became the Emir of Kano afterwards, and posts some boss Instagram photos).

Digitizing the Corporation’s record should go a long way in improving its accounting records – hopefully. Maybe. We’ll see. SMH. Further, I think this could be really helpful for R&D efforts (I’m going to keep bringing this up, FYI.)

No. 117: 3 Tuesday AM Reads – Davidson Grad Gets a Promotion |JP Morgan Has Plans for Africa | Gabon’s Energy Sector at 30,000ft

  1. I nearly clicked my heels when I saw the news of Amrote Abdella being named Regional Director of Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative, an effort for Microsoft to support economic development on the continent while finding new business opportunities. I’m a big fan of Amrote’s. Seeing Davidson alumnae killing it will never get old.

  2. What is getting old is American business news anchors not believing that there is opportunity to do business in African countries. See Stephanie Ruhle’s face during her interview with JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon at the 25:40 mark. At least Stephanie listened. Check out this interview Trish Regan did with McKinsey Director, Acha Leke, last year.


  3. Interesting analysis of market headwinds Africa’s oil and gas industries face and how consistent regulatory policy could help mitigate the impact of dropping energy prices. Speaking of consistent regulatory policy, NJ Ayuk and his Centurion law firm, put out a guide to Gabon’s energy sector, including an explanation of its new hydrocarbons law.

No. 37: Nigeria’s Inclusive Growth Prospects

Credit: McKinsey Global Institute
Credit: McKinsey Global Institute

Last weekend, some friends and I hopped on a Google Hangout to discuss McKinsey Global Institute’s report on Nigeria’s inclusive growth prospects and what needs to happen for the country to realize that potential. 

Here is a quick rundown of some numbers:
 
40 million Nigerians are in the consuming class, but 130 million live below the Empowerment Line – an indication of their ability to afford eight household essentials for a decent standard of living.
 
GDP could reach $1.6 trillion by 2030. Investment in infrastructure could reach $1.5 trillion to support GDP growth and address road density being 1/7th and power generation 1/5th that of India.
 
Three things that stood out from the conversation:
 
1. Nigeria is growing in spite of the serious challenges it faces. We have seen the coverage of Boko Haram’s activity in the North and the 130+ days the government has still not rescued the girls kidnapped from their school. We have also seen the largest acquisition by a Nigerian company when Oando bought ConocoPhillips’ Nigeria oil assets for $1.65B. Nassim Talib’s theory of antifragility comes to mind – the notion of shocks, disorder, volatility driving gains. 
 
2. The skills gap in the country was troubling. The report states that 1 out of 6 of the world’s out of school children between age 6 and 17 are in Nigeria – 10.5 million children. Just thinking about the world’s population, I would think there are more than 60 million children not in school within this age range. Nonetheless, think about all the latent potential in Nigeria. Furthermore, the report highlights the poor quality of education. After six years of school, one out of five Nigerians between the ages of 15 and 29 can read and write.
 
3. Urbanization in the country was another interesting part of the conversation. McKinsey’s insights on urbanization not having the same economic effects as in traditional models was quite interesting. We discussed the rise of financing tools to get more people into homes and the potential risk of tools like mortgage-backed securities. 
 
Nigeria’s growth potential is real, as are its risks. The report had a lot of information and I am interested in your insights. What are some other things that stood out for you in the McKinsey Global Institute report? Shoot me a tweet with your thoughts.