Top of Mind. Welcome to the first edition of my newsletter Big Tech This Week! I created this to give you a feel of what’s happening in the “move fast” world of big tech.
There’s a lot to keep up with each week, but I’m making it easier for you to get access to valuable information on tech leaders and the products they build. I dig in, so you don’t have to.
Every Sunday, I’ll send a recap on the latest tech industry trends from the week, written in conversational style for tech enthusiasts and tech employees to get concise weekly updates on influential leaders, products and exciting new technology.
I’ll love to hear from you, say hey or send me feedback – tell me what you liked or didn’t like and what you’ll like to see. Slide in my DMs or reply to this email.
Now, let’s dig in…
3 big things..
In the matter of Nigeria V Twitter
In an expected show of solidarity, despite facing heat from India and the EU Commission over content issues and platform governance, Jack Dorsey won the hearts of Nigeria’s Twitter community with one tweet on Nigeria’s democracy day celebrations. This comes after Nigeria banned Twitter following the company’s decision to delete a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari, which was reported as inciting violence.
Why it matters: Jack has been an ally of Nigeria’s youth since visiting the country in 2019. His allyship showed up in the #EndSARS protests, where he tweeted the official hashtag and mobilized donations to his 5.5 million Twitter followers.
The implication: I don’t expect Twitter’s Africa team is having an enjoyable conversation with Nigeria’s Information Minister Lai Mohammed. But, in the game of ego wars, Jack’s public solidarity for an open internet will fuel tense conversations with the government.
Why this ban: People have asked why the same treatment wasn’t given to Facebook, given the company took down the same post for violating community standards.Facebook and Twitter operate differently in Nigeria. Facebook has invested millions of dollars in internet infrastructure, launched its first African Tech Hub in Yaba Lagos, and is opening an office in Lagos this year. Heck, CEO Mark Zuckerberg took selfies with President Buhari. Twitter, on the other hand, is playing catch up.
Big picture: My prediction is this isn’t an indefinite suspension, despite what reports say. The ban is pretty janky at the moment; some users in Nigeria are accessing Twitter without VPN, others are using VPN.
Twitter is too important to Nigeria’s economy for the ban to go on longer than it should. Twitter will have conversations with Nigeria’s government about how it could better communicate content moderation policies and announce new investments. Nigeria’s government will give Twitter a talking to about policing content by public figures, but ultimately they will want to take some heat off their backs brought on by Nigerians and the international community, and capitulate. The ban is lifted. Everyone is happy.
President Biden says not on his watch
Former President Donald Trump is punching the air right now.
Recap: Trump’s last months in office was dedicated to fighting proxy wars with China, with TikTok as collateral damage. He signed executive orders to stop new app downloads and in-app transactions on TikTok.
And the courts say, nope: You might say his actions were legitimate, given China’s history with user data, but the US courts didn’t buy his argument. Instead, the court blocked all attempts by Trump to ban TikTok or force them to divest their US operations.
Between two administrations: TikTok was forced to wait with bated breath as Trump exited the White House and Biden was sworn in. Analysts predicted that TikTok would have a better chance of survival in Biden’s administration. They were right.
One more thing: Tiktok’s not in the clear, though. Biden says his government will continue to “evaluate these threats through rigorous, evidence-based analysis and should address any unacceptable or undue risks consistent with overall national security.”Bottom line: If TikTok proves to threaten national security or misuse personal data, there’s a ban in its future.
Jeff Bezos leaves earth
Pondering the bleh coverage the news about Bezos going to Space got this week. Understandable in a climate where India fights for its life with a resurgence of Covid-19, Nigeria reckons with threats to free speech, and Anonymous threatens Elon Musk over Bitcoin.
Let’s try this again. Jeff Bezos is going to space with his brother Mark Bezos for 11 minutes!
Risky, but: As with all space travel, the reward sometimes outweighs the risk. For private companies like SpaceX, they’ve spent more time sending payloads and satellites into space than people. This should be a safe voyage for Jezz Bezos. His space company Blue Origin spent the last decade running successful test flights on the suborbital rocket New Shepard he is travelling with.Bless Jacklyn Bezos: I can imagine air travel is a cause for anxiety for parent’s with children constantly in the sky. For Bezos’ mother Jacklyn, two out of her three kids are heading to space. Whether or not it takes 11 minutes, for her sake, I pray this works.
I co-host a Twitter Spaces conversation every Sunday at 6pm GMT with my friend and fellow product maestro Esther Kuforiji, where we deep dive into the topics in the newsletter with a special guest. It’s always an hour of fun and great entertainment.
Back to it…
Twitter launches its paid product Twitter Blue
To be honest: This is the most unexciting product rollout I’ve experienced, and I’m usually giddy with anticipation. Twitter could have come out the gate with features people will want to throw money at, like an ad-free experience or early access to new features. I’m not team #EditButton, but I’ve heard people say that’s the only feature they’ll pay for. But kicking off Twitter Blue with:
• Undo Tweet
• Bookmark Folders
• Reader Mode
Just. Ain’t. It. But I’ll pay for it, though… for research purposes. 😉
Twitter creates a home tab for Spaces
This one’s exciting: Twitter is making it easier to discover its spanking new product, Twitter Spaces! Now, it’s easier for users to find conversations on Spaces, including hosts and people you know participating in the Space. It will also be easy to manage reminders for scheduled Spaces.Chosen few: This is currently in beta mode with a few power users to roll out to more users when the quirks are worked on — this one I’m anticipating.
Instagram announces some game changing tools at its first Creator Week
Why it matters: In a world with fierce competition by big tech companies to get the best creators using its platform, Instagram announced some dope features to mark its first Creator Week:
• Native affiliate tool: to allow creators earn commissions for the purchases they drive — all within the Instagram app
• Badges on Instagram Live: give creators ways to earn from their supporters
Check it out and start earning!
Heard of Poparazzi?
New app on the block: Poparazzi is self-described as a “photo-sharing app where your friends create your social profiles. You are your friend’s poparazzi, and they are yours. You’ll receive a notification when a friend takes a photo of you. Don’t worry! You have complete control to remove any photo from your profile that you don’t like.”Hmm… I’m still working out the kinks on this one, not fully grasped it yet but too early to say it’s an app to watch out for. I’ll give my review when I learn more.
LATEST INDUSTRY TRENDS
- Netflix is entering the merch game to expand its portfolio. This is a natural transition for the streaming company and long overdue.
- CEO of TikTok’s parent company steps down for some R& R and daydreaming. Lucky man.
That’s it for the week. See you next week!