What in the world is going on at Tesla?

About Fatu
By Fatu Ogwuche

Top of mind: Happy Sunday!

I took an unscheduled break last week to prepare for my travel from Nigeria to London. I thought it would be an easy itinerary, but it took a LOT of my time — apologies for not sending out last week’s newsletter.

I’m back now and hope you all had a great Valentine’s? And if you’re single like me… I hope you had a good night’s sleep, at least. Haha.

Let’s get into big tech this week.

3 big things:

  • Tesla’s breeding racists
  • Flutterwave’s big week
  • WhatsApp’s big change

What in the world is going on at Tesla?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk | Image credit: INC

The short: California’s Department for Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) sued Elon Musk’s company, Tesla, following a three-year investigation into allegations of racism and harassment towards black employees in its California factory.

Hold on a second: Apparently, this is not the first time black employees have accused Tesla’s California factory of being a “hotbed of racist behaviour” – grooming humans that would have been in the KKK if this were 1950. In 2017, black employees filed three lawsuits in California’s state court in Oakland, claiming they were verbally assaulted with racial slurs, and Tesla did nothing. Now, they’re hoping DFEH’s lawsuit forces the change they’ve been demanding.

A quick rundown of lawsuit allegations – ranked from bad to worse:

  • Racist graffiti of swastikas, KKK, and the N-word were drawn in common areas and factory machines.
  • “All monkeys work outside” was written on break room walls. This stayed up for months.
  • Managers and supervisors constantly used the N-word to refer to black employees.
  • Black employees heard racial slurs 50-100 times a day. 
  • Some Tesla employees had visible tattoos of the confederate flag to intimidate black employees.

Phew. That’s enough.

Tesla fights back: Tech companies have a standard playbook for fighting racial discrimination claims – they tell you they have a “diversity and inclusion team” and training programs. Well, Tesla dusted off this playbook and told us the same thing:

We also have a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team whose work is shown in this public report. We recently rolled out an additional training program that reinforces Tesla’s requirement that all employees must treat each other with respect and reminds employees about the numerous ways they can report concerns, including anonymously.  

DFEH says this didn’t need to get to this point. They claim Tesla was invited to an internal dispute resolution in January, free of charge, but Tesla aired them. So, in February, they sued Tesla.

Final thoughts: Tesla says DFEH’s lawsuit is “unfair and counterproductive”. I get that. However, Tesla needs to focus on doing right by their black employees and creating a safe working environment. Period. The world is hard enough.

Flutterwave is Africa’s most valuable startup

New logo. Who dis? | Image credit: Flutterwave

The short: Flutterwave launched a ton of announcements this week – from a $250 million Series D raise, valuing them at almost $4billion, to new branding and product launches at their flagship Flutterwave 3.0 event.

Let’s back up: In July 2017, Flutterwave raised over $10 million in Series A to hire more talent and expand global operations + an extension round in 2018 – bringing the raise to $20 million. In January 2020, Flutterwave raised $35 million in Series B to invest in business development and expand market share in existing countries. In March 2021, the company raised $170 million in Series C – bagging them the coveted unicorn status (private companies worth $1 billion). Fast forward to 2022 – the $250 million Series D raise is targeted at mergers and acquisitions and growing its existing user base. 

New product experimentation: Flutterwave’s 3.0 event broke the internet with product announcements that essentially turned some fintech companies business models into features:

  • Apple Pay & Google Pay is coming to Flutterwave checkout.
  • Flutterwave Capital would give businesses access to loans without collateral and clunky documentation.
  • Flutterwave Card Issuing for virtual and physical cards.
  • Fintech As a Service (FAAS) product for businesses to embed financial services into their products.

By the numbers: Flutterwave’s incredible five-year run has amassed over 200 million transactions worth $16 billion in 34 African countries and powered 900,000 businesses globally. 

Quickfire with CEO Olugbenga ‘GB’ Agboola: With Flutterwave’s valuation at almost $4 billion, we did a quickfire round with the CEO to understand Flutterwave’s growth and ambitions:

#1: Why did Flutterwave raise $250m? 

GB: Market penetration.

#2: Will Flutterwave be acquiring its competitors on the continent? 

GB: If we find the right fit. 

#3: Flutterwave is a big company now, increasing regulatory oversight ahead of a potential US listing. What’s the game plan? 

GB: We will do more market penetration & align our goals with regulators — but we have already seen huge support from regulators. 

#4: How far away is Flutterwave from listing on the US stock exchange?

GB: Our goal is to keep scaling & be IPO ready.Final thoughts: Flutterwave has upped the game for product announcements and innovation in Africa. In an industry that takes the mantra “innovate or” die” to a different level – rapid innovation, mergers, and acquisitions are essential for survival. In any case, if a startup survives the average 5-year mark, they have a blueprint for what’s possible.

WhatsApp gives you the feature you’ve been waiting for

WhatsApp logo | Image credit: WhatsApp

The short: WhatsApp is releasing a voicenote player that allows users to listen to voicenotes while doing other things within the app. Who would have thought we’d get this in our lifetime?

Here’s how it works: So, you know how you can only listen to a voicenote sent by your Dad, Mum, Friends or group chat while still in that chat? That’s changing. You can listen to a voicenote in the background and chat with someone else on WhatsApp. Sweet.

Pause: As exciting as this is, it’s not available to everyone just yet. It’s been released to a few beta users in iOS. The jury’s out on when this would be rolled out globally. I’m a beta tester, and I can listen to voicenotes with the app minimised. This means I can go on Twitter and Instagram and still listen to Whatsapp voicenotes. Pretty neat.

Final thoughts: Shout out to the product manager, who figured being stuck in chats while listening to voicenotes was a pain point. On behalf of beta iOS users, I say a big thanks!

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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