Top of Mind. Happy Sunday!
This week was a solemn one for a lot of Nigerians. October 20th marked the first anniversary of the #EndSars protests, which recorded one of the most brutal military to civilian massacres in recent history.
We take a look at how it’s impacted the tech industry.
3 big things:
- Facebook is rebranding
- One year after #EndSars
- Donald Trump launches social network
Is Facebook getting a new name?
The short: According to The Verge, Facebook plans to announce a new company name “to reflect its focus on building the metaverse” during the company’s annual Connect Conference on October 28th, or sooner.
What it means: No worries. You won’t be considered out of vogue for calling Facebook…Facebook. The blue app would still be called Facebook. I reckon it’s solely a structural change to the parent company’s name, which houses its family of apps – Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, Workplace, and Messenger.
Why it matters: The rebrand indicates Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s ambition to build apps and hardware for the metaverse. He’s spoken about effectively transitioning from people seeing Facebook as a social media company to a metaverse company.
This is…metaverse: The definition of the metaverse is broad, but Facebook’s ambition combines a mix of virtual and physical experiences brought to life by augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR). Imagine a world where you don a VR headset and interact with friends or family in digital spaces – work, play and immerse yourself in digital content.
Big Picture: This is not the first time a tech company rebrands itself. In 2015, Google created a new parent company, Alphabet, to expand its reputation as not only a search engine but a collection of companies. Snapchat also rebranded to Snap Inc. in 2016 to signal itself as a “camera company”.
By the numbers: Facebook recently announced plans to hire 10,000 more employees in Europe to work on the metaverse. It currently has over 10,000 employees building consumer hardware like AR glasses – a product Zuckerberg believes would be just as important as smartphones.
Final thoughts: The mantra “innovate or die” is as real as it gets in Silicon Valley. Tech companies are expected to predict the future of the internet and build for it.
We are in the 3rd wave of the internet – Web 3.0 (blockchain, crypto, NFTs, DAOs, etc.). Any tech company not building for this reality will be obsolete in 20 years.
The impact of the Nigerian government’s #EndSars response on the tech community
The short: One year after Nigeria’s #EndSars protests and the government’s war on tech, dozens of startup founders and tech employees are fleeing the country.
Quick background: Nigeria’s disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad [SARS], a unit of the Police Force, was infamous for profiling and arbitrarily arresting young people, including tech employees.
In October 2020, young people organised a nationwide protest to speak out against SARS. Technology drove the movement – fundraising via crypto, tracking arrested protesters and bailing them out, and amplifying the protests globally on social media.
In turn, the government responded to the protests with violence, including reported massacres in Lagos by the military on October 20, 2020.
Why it matters: According to Rest of World, insiders say that the President sought to control tech and telecommunication industries due to the influence they wield over public discourse.
The government reportedly targeted some tech founders – tapped their phones, and froze their bank accounts.
By the numbers: Nigeria’s tech industry remains an attractive hub for investors, with startups and local companies raising $2.4 billion since January 2019, according to Africa: The Big Deal.
Since the government’s target on the tech industry, influential founders and industry experts have left the country.
Final thoughts: The biggest threat to the sustenance of Nigeria’s tech community is a government that creates a hostile environment for the industry to manoeuvre.
There is a new generation of excellent young people boarding planes without return tickets, and Nigeria will be worse for it.
Trump is launching a social network
The short: Former US President Donald Trump plans to launch a social media platform called Truth Social next year.
What it means: Trump, who remains banned from Twitter and Facebook, has set a goal to rival the tech giants.
I’m excited to soon begin sharing my thoughts on Truth Social and to fight back against big tech.
Why it matters: Trump was infamously kicked off Twitter and Facebook for inciting the Capitol Riots in January. As a comeback to censorship and bans, he’s touted the idea of creating platforms where his views and that of his supporters can fly unscathed.
So, Truth Social sounds like a solid plan.
Big Picture: In July, Trump sued Twitter and Facebook over his ban, arguing they were gagging conservative viewpoints. Early this month, he asked a Florida federal judge to force Twitter to restore his account.
First look: Truth Social hasn’t officially launched, but users could access the app through a URL that has now been deactivated. A user quickly created an account and profile page in Donald Trump’s name – (@DonaldTrump).
I’m wondering why you build an app and don’t secure your name? Donald Trump is not focused.
Final thoughts: If Trump intends to use the iOS or Android Stores for distribution or AWS for cloud storage, he must establish the same content policies that got him kicked off all the social networks.Or, who knows, Trump might build this app on blockchain technology to avoid corporate meddling. That way, he can create his kingdom as he sees fit – no rules, no laws, every man for himself, and Truth for us all.
Market Watch: Here’s how the stocks of companies, which dominated the news this week performed as of market close:
Facebook (Ticker Symbol: FB)Facebook’s shares shed 5.05% to $324.61 on Friday on what proved to be an all-around mixed trading session for the stock market. However, market experts predict a stock boost after the company rebrands itself this week.
New feature spotlight!
Small business owners are getting a treat from Whatsapp!
New Feature Alert: WhatsApp launched a new feature called “Collections” to make it easier for users to shop for items using categories. The feature is available to small businesses around the world.
How this works: While Collections initially launched in 2019 to create a storefront for businesses, this new iteration takes it a step further. You can organise your wares into categories in your catalogue. For example, if you sell jewelery, you can organise it into silver, gold and diamond categories.
Verdict: WhatsApp’s remains an untapped e-commerce real estate, with billions of users.
Surfacing organic activity by building relevant features would make WhatsApp a formidable competitor to other e-commerce platforms.
That’s it for the week. See you next Sunday!
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