Elon Musk arrives at Twitter with a wrecking ball

About Fatu
By Fatu Ogwuche

Top of mind: Happy Sunday!

Elon Musk recently got the keys to Twitter and upended the company by locking employees out of internal tools and firing Twitter’s CEO and top execs.

In Nigeria, the startup scene faces another reckoning with the ouster of Dr Abasi Eno-Obong, the CEO of genomics startup 54gene.

Let’s get to it.

3 big things:

  • Twitter’s new nightmare
  • Another Nigerian CEO quits
  • YouTube’s new certification

Elon Musk’s arrives at Twitter with a wrecking ball

Cover art by Samuel Jolayemi

The short: Elon Musk fired Twitter’s CEO and three other executives when he got the keys to Twitter. 

Let that sink in: Elon Musk was feeling particularly athletic this Wednesday, and boy did he stunt. After changing his bio to “Chief Twit,” he shared a video of himself walking into Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters carrying a sink with a tweet stating – “Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!”

Cleaning house: Musk’s first order of business after the close of the deal was to send execs he didn’t like packing. He fired CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, General Counsel Sean Edgett, and Head of Legal Policy, Trust, and Safety Vijaya Gadde – who he’d publicly criticised on Twitter months ago for her role in the decision to remove former President Donald Trump from the platform. 

Musk’s public and private misunderstandings with Parag were well-known. Musk immaturely tweeted poop emojis at him last year, and leaked text messages revealed their falling out as the twitter deal went sour. 

The bird is freed: Not long after cleaning house, Musk tweeted, “the bird is freed.” but European Commission Internet Market Commissioner Thierry Breton hurried to clip its wings with the response:

“In Europe, the bird will fly by our 🇪🇺 rules.”

Reminding Elon that Twitter is subject to the EU’s Digital Services Act.

Final thoughts: Twitter’s worst nightmare showed up at the company this week – with employees holding their breaths over who gets axed.

I’m waiting to see what big plans Musk has for Twitter. He’s talked a good game about revamping the company. Let’s hope he puts his money where his mouth is.

54gene CEO steps down

The short: Dr Abasi Eno-Obong, the CEO of Nigerian genomics startup 54gene, resigned following a series of financial struggles at the company.

Pandemic boom: 54gene had a significant headstart as one of Africa’s leading genomics companies, with a stint in Y Combinator’s 2019 class and a $25 million raise in 2021 – things were looking up. Its first big ambition was filling the gap in the genomics market, where Africa accounts for less than 3% of genetic material used in pharmaceutical research. 

And in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic presented 54gene with a lifetime opportunity as one of Nigeria’s largest COVID-19 testing providers. To meet this demand, the company raised $40 million between 2020-2021 to hire more staff and rapidly scale operations across Nigeria.  

Money problems: A year and about 200 layoffs later, 54gene needed more money. Sources claim the company’s valuation dropped from $170 million when it raised its Series B to about $50 million in a bridge round led by its board of directors. For self-preservation, the investors in this bridge round closed with a liquidation preference, meaning the lead investors would be paid back triple their money before other stakeholders, such as other investors, founders, and employees, in the event of an exit. 

A new CEO: In both rounds of layoffs, anonymous accusations of misappropriation of funds were made against the then-CEO and his executives – but the allegations remain unproven. In a last show of faith, Ene-Obong’s protested the liquidation condition demanded by early investors in the bridge round, but his protests changed nothing.  

Ene-Obong will be replaced by General Counsel Teresia L. Bost, former Vice President and Associate General Council at Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

Final thoughts: I heard from sources that the board and investors unanimously voted for Eno-Obong’s ouster. Investors were sceptical about the company’s aggressive growth – and not in a good way. Sources claimed the company was “americanised” with many western hires, which caused a strain on their runway. However, investors are optimistic about 54gene’s future – just without Ene-Obong.

Youtube is targeting quack doctors

The short: Youtube is targeting “quack doctors” on YouTube by starting a certification program to boost health-related channels run by healthcare professionals.

Certificated fresh: YouTube will certify health-related content produced by health professionals such as physicians, nurses, and therapists. Last year, youtube launched a program that labelled search results of videos created by certified healthcare practitioners with “From health sources.” The program was a win-win because it helped practitioners get more engagement and users get more accurate information on health-related topics.

New requirements: 

  • They must have health content on their channel.
  • Have more than 2,000 watch hours of public videos in the last 12 months.
  • Attest that they are licensed doctors, nurses, or mental health professionals.

YouTube will work with authorities to ensure applicants have a legitimate medical license. All approved creators will receive a unique label designated as “a licensed healthcare professional” resource, and their videos will appear at the top of related search results.

Final thoughts: This would have been a great program when COVID-19 first hit – it would have saved us from all the quacks touting salt-water baths as prevention methods for the virus. But better late than never for fighting misinformation, so thumbs up, YouTube. 

That’s it for the week. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this week’s issue. Please respond to this email or find me on Twitter @fatuogwuche 🙂 

Ps – do us a solid by sharing the newsletter with your network of tech enthusiasts. Invite them to join the party 🙂

See you next Sunday!

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