24 JANUARY, 2022

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Both TikTok and Instagram are trying out paid-subscription features in the US. 

With it, creators will be able to charge followers monthly fees for their exclusive content.

On Instagram, the fees will range from $0.99 to $99.99 per month, and according to Instagram’s co-Head of Product, the platform will not be taking a cut of that revenue yet. TikTok is yet to reveal what the price range for its feature will be. 

Both platforms are following the footsteps of social media platforms that allow users monetise their content. Facebook launched Paid Groups in 2020, while Twitter launched its $uper Followers feature last year. 

Maybe TC should take a cue and slap prices on our newsletters. ๐Ÿค‘

In today’s edition

  • Bitcoin bites down
  • Three startups, two exits, one man
  • The risk in running autonomous cars
  • TC Insights: Beyond equity
  • Job opportunities

BITCOIN BITES DOWN

Over the weekend, bitcoin prices dropped by 49%.

On Friday, the flagship cryptocurrency dropped below $35,000 from its $67,000 record-high in November 2021.

Bitcoin prices have been steadily dropping all month even dropping as low as $46,000 in the first weeks of January. Last week’s, however, was the lowest it’s been since November. 

And it’s not the only one

Other cryptocurrencies are also on the downward spiral, although none of them took a large dive like bitcoin. 

Ethereum dropped by 13%, dogecoin by 8%, shiba inu by 12.8%, and solana by 11%. 

Why does crypto fluctuate?

Demand and supply.

It all depends on how people feel about the coins. If demand for it is higher, the value goes up. If demand is lower than supply, then it comes crashing down.

This also means that crypto can be influenced by the public, the government, celebrities, and even social media. Whenever big companies start accepting crypto as payment, it rises. When governments ban crypto, the prices drop. And when celebrities like Elon Musk express displeasure, well, you can guess what happens next. 

The recent drop, as experts theorise, is a result of a few things. First is Russia’s central bank’s recent paper that details how cryptocurrencies could threaten Russian investors and assets. The paper also came with a proposal to ban crypto trading and mining in the territory. Other countries including the US and UK are also clamping down with regulations.

Big picture: Trading sorrows coins is not an easy task. Take heart in knowing that like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, just like hopes springing high, still, bitcoin will rise. 

THREE STARTUPS, TWO EXITS, ONE MAN

Late last year, Cornell graduate Ishmael Belkhayat completed one of the most demanding competitions ever, an Ironman triathlon—a race consisting of a 3.86km swim, a 180.25km bicycle ride, and a 42.20km run. 

Only 0.01% of the world’s population have been able to complete the race. And while Belkhayat is not an athlete, he prides himself on the ability to focus on achieving specific tasks.

Completing a triathlon is not the most notable pin in Belkhayat’s jacket. He’s also a serial entrepreneur who’s co-founded startups that provide necessary solutions for North Africans. 

You want it, you get it

In 2018, five years after launch, Ishmael Belkhayat’s first startup VotreChaffeur—a ride-hailing startup operating in Morocco—was acquired by Avis Car Rental for an undisclosed amount. 

His second startup, Sarouty was also acquired by PropertyFinder Group, a few years after it launched to help Morrocans people discover, buy or rent land and houses. 

In 2020, amidst the pandemic, Belkhayat and his wife, Sophia Alj, co-founded Chari, a B2B e-commerce platform that helps informal retailers in Morocco get access to fast-moving consumer goods. Chari’s app helps merchants place orders and match drivers for delivery. The startup currently transacts about $2.5 million monthly. It has signed over 15,000 merchants with almost half of the number using the platform daily. 

While Chari hasn’t been acquired yet, it is on its way to helping merchants solve even more problems by digitising payments.

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THE RISK IN RUNNING AUTONOMOUS CARS

In 2016, the first recorded death involving a self-driving car happened. Joshua Brown lost his life when his Tesla Model S—in autopilot mode—collided with an 18-wheeler truck after his car’s sensors refused to distinguish between the truck’s white colour and the bright sky. 

Two years later, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg was crossing the road when she was struck by a self-driving Uber vehicle—which was being tested at the time. Before Herzberg’s death, self-driving Ubers had been involved in 37 different crashes in the US. 

More recently, in 2019, another Tesla car on autopilot killed two bystanders when it ran a red light and slammed into another car. 

Accidents involving self-driving cars have increased as manufacturers flood the roads with new models. This study shows that “there are 9.1 self-driving car accidents per million miles driven, while the same rate is 4.1 crashes per million miles for regular vehicles”. In 2021, Tesla reported that number as “1 crash for every 4.31 million miles driven in which drivers were using autopilot technology”.

Who should be handcuffed to the wheel?

As automobile companies optimise their vehicles for autopilot modes, governments are also starting to optimise laws to address the dilemma of who should be at fault. 

In Elaine Herzberg’s case, Uber settled out of court but the backup driver—who was supposed to be monitoring the test—is being charged with negligent homicide. 

In other crashes, drivers are putting the blame on the manufacturers, claiming that the manufacturers who programme the software should be liable for criminal and civil lawsuits. Governments like the US, on the other hand, are considering enforcing laws that prevent manufacturers from advertising their cars as “fully self-driving” since there is presently no car [for sale] that can be described as that. 

What do you think?

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TC INSIGHTS: BEYOND EQUITY

It’s a great time to raise money as a startup in Africa. 

After raising $1.3 billion in 2020, funding went up by 276% to an all-time high of $4.9 billion in 2021. Interestingly, a large chunk of it was equity.  For a long time, VC firms and private equity firms have been the lifeblood of tech funding across Africa. Last year,  6% of the total funding for African startups was debt

With debt financing, founders are able to retain control of their companies without ceding it to investors. Yet, most founders prefer equity financing. This is because most startups operate using intangible assets. As a result, founders are unable to provide the assets required for debt financing.

“Debt investors usually look for predictable cash flows or transferable assets (such as real estate) to secure their exposures,” Rahul Shah, head of financials equity research at Tellimer said on a call with TechCabal. “Debt investors may feel that the returns they can earn by taking exposure to startup companies do not sufficiently compensate them for the risks they face,” he added.

Ultimately, startups that meet the cash flow and asset requirements can easily access debt, criteria many startups can’t meet.

“Short term debt financing can also be accessed if it is backed by inventory; for example, e-Commerce retailers and suppliers. In contrast, an early-stage biotech will likely struggle to obtain debt finance,” Shah further explained.

Africa’s tech ecosystem is still young. The business models and risk management of its startups remain a work in progress. As they mature, debt financing will become a viable means of funding within the continent.

You can download all our reports here and watch videos from our events. Send your custom research requests here.

JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Every week, we share job opportunities in the African ecosystem

There are more opportunities here. If you’d like to share a job opening or an opportunity, please fill this form.

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What else we’re reading

  • Netflix’s stock has taken a hit as a result of low subscriber turnout.

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Written by – Timi Odueso & Mobolaji Adebayo

Edited by – Kelechi Njoku

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