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Snapchat is following in the footsteps of Twitter Blue and Telegram Premium.
It’s released Snapchat Plus, the paid version of its app.
At $3.99 a month, Snapchat wants its users to sign up to get “exclusive and early access features”.
We’re not quite sure about these paid features though. There’s a UI update, the ability to change the app icon, check who rewatched a story, and pin one friend—your BFF—to the top of your chat.
In today’s edition
- Vezeeta lays off 10% of its staff
- Le Wagon drives into Cape Town
- FCC wants TikTok gone
- Simpu comes out of hiding
VEZEETA SHAVES 10% OFF ITS STAFF
Egypt-and Dubai-based health-tech startup Vezeeta has laid off about 10% of its staff. Its LinkedIn profile says it has 500 staff so about 50 workers were laid off.
This news comes after Egypt-and Dubai-based mobility startup Swvl announced plans to lay off 32% of its workforce—400 people—in May.
What is it about Dubai?
If you are not superstitious, nothing. Both of the African companies are based in Dubai, but the layoffs have nothing to do with their location. Rather, it has everything to do with the negative trajectory of the global economy. Globally, startups in different sectors are cutting costs to pursue profitability.
In fact, over 140,388 tech workers have lost their jobs since the second week of March due to this negative trajectory.
In the past, another round of funding may have catered to the cost of labour, but due to the economic downturn, follow-on funding isn’t guaranteed.
So Vezeeta is running out of cash?
Not particularly. Till now, the company hasn’t hinted at a need to cut costs. In fact, the healthtech company has received $73 million in total funding, $40 million of which was raised from a Series D funding round in 2020.
Launched in 2012, Vezeeta’s business has grown from the “Uber for ambulance” model to a subscription-based doctor booking and consultation platform. Its software-as-a-service solution offers doctor consultations, pharmacy, and diagnostics. It currently caters to 10 million patients across 78 cities (including Nigeria and Kenya).
Seeing that major players in Africa like Vezeeta and Swvl are not immune to “the great layoffs”, it would be a (pleasant) surprise if we do not hear any more layoff news about African startups in the near future.
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LE WAGON DRIVES INTO CAPE TOWNLe Wagon is rolling into town.
In partnership with the Red & Yellow Creative School of Business, international coding bootcamp Le Wagon will launch in Cape Town, South Africa. It launched in Mauritius in 2020 and in Casablanca last year. South Africa will be the third African country the highly-acclaimed boot camp operates in.
What does Le Wagon do?
Le Wagon is a coding bootcamp. Coding bootcamps teach people coding and help them get jobs.
Le Wagon says it has trained over 15,000 students globally. According to the school, 93% of graduates received a job offer, started a freelance career, or created their own startup within 6 months of completing a programme.
What programmes are in Le Wagon’s coding boot camp?
Le Wagon offers short and intensive bootcamps in web development and data science. To complete the bootcamp, you’ll need 360 hours of study, coding, digital exercises, and group projects.
Who can enrol in the programme?
Anyone who wants to gain practical skills in web development and data science, whether they have prior coding knowledge or not. You can take the programme full-time for 9 weeks or part-time for 24 weeks.
Asides from the technical skills, the programme offers a network of thousands of alumni in 25 countries worldwide.
As though the great community is not enough, Le Wagon drives the extra mile and assists students in finding work after their training. It has partnerships with recruiters which it takes advantage of to improve employment chances for its students.
How to enrol
Le Wagon Cape has online bootcamps which facilitate remote study. You can participate in the remote bootcamp from anywhere in the world.
It also has physical campuses across different countries. The campus in Cape Town will be based at the Red & Yellow Creative School of Business in Woodstock. Its first full-time web development bootcamp will start in August.
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FCC WANTS TIKTOK GONE
The US went after women’s rights last week, and this week, its target is on TikTok.
A member of the US’ Federal Communications Commission, Brendan Carr, has written to Apple and Google, asking them to take down TikTok from their stores.
Why? Well, Carr is afraid that TikTok—owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance—might be leaking US users’ data to the Chinese government.
It’s not the first time these concerns have popped up. Ex-US president Donald Trump tried to ban both TikTok and WeChat—another social media platform headquartered in China.
Should the US be worried?
Carr and Trump’s concerns are not completely unfounded. There is a decade’s worth of news on the espionage war between China and the US.
Everyone is worried about one another. Just as the US worries about its citizens’ data on TikTok, the EU is worried about how Facebook and Twitter are using user data from Europe.
Several other countries, including India and the UK, also have concerns about how China is using user data. In fact, India has banned over 42 different apps with ties to China—including UC Browser.
What happens if TikTok is banned in the US?
For starters, the product managers at Instagram and Facebook will get bonuses; that’s for sure.
Other than Meta’s certain joy, TikTok’s US banishment would mean that the platform is losing a huge chunk of its user base. The US has the highest number of TikTok users with 136 million active users. Only Indonesia comes close with 99 million active users.
If the US succeeds in banning TikTok, it will set a precedent for other countries. There’s nothing governments copy faster than oppressive regulations, and African governments will be at the forefront of this.
Zoom out: All this, however, is unlikely to happen. TikTok fought the ban attempt by Trump and is reportedly already gearing up for this latest fight.
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SIMPU IS MAKING BUSINESS COMMUNICATION SIMPLE
Simpu wants to make things simple for online businesses.
Online business owners have become jugglers. They have to juggle 3 or 5 apps to connect with their customers—Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, and others.
Software-as-a-service startup Simpu is solving that problem by simplifying communication and customer engagement for businesses.
Superhero or super app?
Launched in 2021, Simpu provides a communication super app that allows businesses to receive and send messages across different platforms—email, Whatsapp, SMS, iMessage, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—from one place.
This might sound
simpu simple, but it is not. Globally acclaimed brands like Intercom, HubSpot, Bitrix 24, Salesforce, and even Zoho (which is reported to be opening a Lagos office in July) are solving this problem too and have been at it for years.
However, Simpu says that customers have been switching from these established platforms to Simpu to manage their communications with customers.
Seriously? How come?
We asked the same question too. Why are people dumping notable and older brands for a 2-year-old Simpu? Simpu says it is because they offer something extra that these other omnichannel services don’t: local nuance. This is understandable considering that though it has international customers in the UK and US, most of the customers of the Nigerian startup are in Nigeria.
Moreover, in addition to its communication platform, Simpu provides sales funnel optimisation tools, website live chat, and third-party integrations like core banking backends, databases for SMS and email marketing, and more.
Simpu’s simple goal
For now, Simpu’s goal is to expand its product suite and gain more market share. Although it is still in private beta, the startup has made over $80,000 in SaaS revenues from selling monthly and yearly subscriptions to its users.
When it lands more market share, making more money would be…simple.
IN OTHER NEWS FROM TECHCABAL
“The future of work for African startups is in distributed offices” and other ideas from VivaTech, one of Europe’s largest tech conferences. In this article, Daniel Adeyemi shares his experience at VivaTech where over 100 African startups shared their stories.
These 5 gadgets will increase the probability of having a hassle-free journey and ease your stay at your destination.
This renewable energy company in southeastern Nigeria makes solar inverters and charge controllers from locally-sourced materials (except for semiconductors). But the firm is not stopping there: eventually, Greenage Technologies wants to produce batteries for solar units.
What’s Afriex doing that’s different from other multi-currency exchange apps? Well, for one, it offers rates 25% cheaper than Western Union or MoneyGram, and users also have the option of sending and receiving cryptocurrency.
- develoPPP Ventures is offering €100,000 ($107,831) grants to high-potential startups from Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania. Young high-growth startups with less than €2 million ($2.15 million) in funding so far can apply for the grant here.
- Snapchat’s Snap 523 Accelerator Programme is now open to applications from black content creators. Twenty-five selected creators will receive $10,000 per month for 12 months and a Google Pixel 7 Pro. Apply by August 12.
- Applications are now open for the Decentralised Umoja Algorand Bounty Hack II, by Algorand and Reach. The hackathon is a great opportunity for African developers to learn and build blockchain projects and win up to $3,000 in prizes. Apply by July 15.
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Written by – Timi Odueso & Ngozi Chukwu
Edited by – Kelechi Njoku
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