Top of mind. Happy Sunday from Abidjan!
I’m currently in one of Francophone Africa’s fastest-growing startup cities and one of my top 5 West African cities.
It’s been a great week connecting with startups building for the Metaverse and leading rapid change in financial technology.
My money’s on Abidjan to become a significant player in Africa’s tech scene. Watch out for them.
3 big things:
- Instagram heard y’all
- Apple’s going electric
- Nigeria’s new bill
Instagram is a good listener
The short: Instagram temporarily walked back its latest updates, thanks to stinging user feedback.
The spark: The dramatic week began with an IG post and a link to a change.org petition – from photographer Tati Bruening, demanding:
Make Instagram Instagram again (stop trying to be tiktok i just want to see cute photos of my friends.)
It quickly went viral, garnering over 2 million likes and reposts from A-list celebrities.
New feature, who dis?: Instagram started experimenting with a full-screen feed for pictures and videos while ramping up recommended posts – in line with a new product shift.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated in a recent earnings call that approximately 15% of the posts people see on Facebook (and a much higher percentage on Instagram) are from algorithmic recommendations. This number will double in the coming months.
Pushing pressure: Not everyone was excited by the new changes. Celebrity creators Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner joined the users demanding Instagram walk back its new features. Industry analysts speculated about the impact the Kardashian-Jenner backlash would have on Meta’s bottom line – reminiscent of a 2o18 tweet by Kylie Jenner, which cost Snapchat almost $1 billion in losses.
Long shot: Meta’s earnings call revealed it fell short of revenue projections by 0.45% ($130 million) due to severe global economic downturn. The Snapchat effect was lost on Meta.
Instagram responds: Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri addressed the backlash, stating that the increased in-feed recommendations help expose creators to new global audiences.
However, he did acknowledge that –
If you’re seeing things in your feed that are recommendations that you’re not interested in, that means that we’re doing a bad job ranking, and we need to improve.
A new plan: Instagram will phase out the full-screen feed and reduce recommended posts in the coming weeks. It’s a retreat but not a surrender. You can expect the company will double down on its video-focused ambitions in the future.
Final thoughts: I’m 50-50 on this one. I respect a company that listens and does right by its users. However, I also understand the need to make big shifts as user behaviour changes.
Ultimately, Instagram will determine the best compromise, and users will adapt.
Apple makes a play for the electric car market
The short: Watch out Tesla! Apple hires a Lamborghini executive to compete in the electric car market.
The team: In typical avengers fashion, Apple has been poaching top talent from electric car companies like Tesla, Rivian, Waymo & Ford Electric as it makes its biggest shift to electric cars.
The company hired a 20-year veteran of Lamborghini, Luigi Taraborrelli – who built successful supercar models like the Lambo Aventador to help establish Apple as a dominant player in the automobile industry.
Project Titan: The not-so-secret electric car project – codenamed “Project Titan,” has seen several setbacks, including leadership changes, technical issues, and, most recently, the departure of an automotive engineer just six months after his recruitment.
Apple plans to succeed where Tesla’s struggled by debuting a driverless model, fully electric and four inward-facing seats. They ramped up this driverless ambition by lobbying the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for exemptions to release a vehicle without a steering wheel and brake pedal.
Final thoughts: I’m sure that Apple will make a grand entrance into the EV industry – it’s what they do, but its aspiration to mass-manufacture in 2025, with all its internal challenges, seems a lot like a fairy tale.
But, good luck!
Nigeria passes new Startup Bill
The short: Nigeria passes a Startup Bill to create an easy environment for startups to launch, grow and operate.
A ray of hope: In 2020, Lagos state, Nigeria’s largest city, banned bike-hailing startups, leading to the painful exit of logistics businesses such as ORide, Max.ng, and Gokada from the city.
In 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria prohibited cryptocurrency trading, pushing crypto startups to seek alternate forms of payment. The Nigeria Startup Bill (NSB) presents some optimism in Nigeria’s tech industry, which has historically not received the best support from government policies.
Some relief: Startups in Nigeria currently face restrictive government policies and access to funding for emerging startups. The NSB will address some of these challenges by granting business incentives like tax breaks, government loans, and credit guarantee schemes – providing startups with foundational infrastructure essential for growth and scaling across the region.
Final thoughts: The Nigerian government finally recognises the value of startups in economic growth. Cities like Lagos plan to domesticate the bill once it’s passed at the federal level. It’s early days, but this bill could become one of the best policy shifts in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem in recent years.
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!