When faves link up

Issue #6

Happy Tuesday!

Aaaand we’re back after a week off! The break might have to do with work and being demotivated to get shit done. However, I’m super excited to send out another issue today.

When faves link up

Microtraction, a fund that “invests in Africa's most remarkable teams with technical founders at the earliest stage of their venture” last week announced it’s investment in CowryWise.

CowryWise, is a ~1-year-old Lagos based startup that is democratising asset and wealth management services and make them available to everyone. The company provides a platform for personalised financial services with a high interest rate only available to the top 1% . In the announcement made by Yele Bademosi, the Managing Partner at Microtraction, he invested in CowryWise because the company offers the proper mix of team, product and market potential.

The invested amount was not disclosed.

Google’s AI research center in Accra

You know one thing about AI, the term gets thrown around a lot like its some established industry and its all been figure out. But really, it is still a growing industry with millions of dollars invested into AI research by governments and corporations. It is also a race for talent as the biggest corporations are frantically acquiring people from the academics, startups and research institutions.

While the world battles for the brightest talent in the biggest and best universities in North America and Europe, an often forgotten land mine is Africa with droves of AI talent. That’s where Google comes in.

Sundar Pichai@sundarpichai

Excited that we'll be opening a new @GoogleAI center in Accra, Ghana - really looking forward to our research teams solving challenges with AI for Africa and beyond https://t.co/dTYvrcebPJ

June 13, 2018
As Google’s CEO stated in the tweet above, Google is pioneering an AI research centre in Accra, Ghana. The AI research would be one of google’s many initiatives to drive technology in Africa. Over the last 10 years, Google has played an active role in Africa’s technological development and adoption. This is an even bigger commitment as artificial intelligence is still a nascent field and our best talent can get to work on building the future of technology.

About BTC and ETH


In spite of all the goodness that cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology promises, there is this one adversary that the technology may not be able to overcome. And that is hackers.

Bitcoin tumbled more than 10 percent to its lowest in two months, after a South Korean exchange was hacked. Coinrail, a relatively small South Korean cryptocurrency exchange, tweeted that it was hacked, leading to bitcoin falling to a low of $6,647.33.

The crash appears to be over after the price stabled last Thursday.


The SEC has declared that Ethereum and its digital coin ether, are not securities. The announcement led the price of ether to rise by over 8 percent, hitting a high of $520 per token. The implications of this still remains to be seen.

And that’s a wrap. If you enjoy this newsletter, I’d love it if you’d tweet or forward to the two people who you think would enjoy it most.

Until next week,


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All about the Benjamins

Issue #5

Happy Thursday!

There has been some really interesting funding announcements in the last week. I would be covering them in this issue

The one about Lidya

Lidya a two-year-old Lagos based startup has raised $6.9M in Series A funding led by impact investment firm Omidyar Network with participation from Alitheia Capital, Bamboo Capital Partners, and Tekton Ventures.

Lidya analyzes over 100 data points to build a customized credit score, assess a customer for a loan and disburse loans to qualified businesses in as little as 48 hours. The company offers unsecured load of up to $15,000 to small and medium-sized businesses. Lidya currently operates in Nigeria where 20,000 businesses have signed up for its service and has provided 1,500 business loans to SMEs

Lidya is obviously growing really fast as only a year ago, the company closed a $1.25M seed round from Accion Venture Lab.

Lidya was a co-founded by Tunde Kehinde, he co-founded Jumia

The one about Janngo

Fatoumata Bâ, co-founder & CMO at Jumia Côte d’Ivoire is launching Janngo, Africa’s first ‘social startup studio’ and has raised €1 m in early stage funding

The startup studio as opposed to an accelerator or incubator will have an in-house team of Entrepreneurs-in-residence who will build products and solutions targeted at African SMEs. These Entrepreneurs will be aided by Janngo to validate and expand beyond their local markets.

The one about Piggybank

Piggybank a two-year fintech startup has raised $1.1M in seed funding led by Leadpath a Lagos based seed capital fund with participation from Village Capital and Ventures Platform.

Piggybank allows it’s users to intuitively save while earning up to 10 percent in interest. The company will use it’s newly raise funding to acquire licenses and develop the product further.

I am particularly excited about this fund raise because the three participants in the deal are local investors. I am looking forward to more fund raise of this magnitude led by local funds.


And that’s a wrap. If you enjoy this newsletter, I’d love it if you’d tweet or forward to the two people who you think would enjoy it most.

Until next week,


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It’s about damn time

Issue #4

Hi friends,

Well, last week a long-awaited day finally came. Giddy with excitement and along with others all around the world, you must have watched as the royal wedding unraveled and enjoyed every bit of it. I have highlighted some of the best stories you may have missed while away at the royal wedding. Enjoy.

Snap is trying to grow up

It’s not been the best of years for Snapchat. Shares are down 47% since the infamous Kylie Jenner tweet, the company has been struggling with low user growth, while also orchestrating a redesign of it’s app which turned out to be an epic fail. Snap really has been traversing from one hot mess to another. But it doesn’t end there.

The company recently announced it was launching the version 2 of its flagship hardware product Spectacles, this would have been all well and good if the company hadn’t lost $60m on the first version . Daily snaps are 3 billion now -- that's down from 4 billion last year. Tbh, nothing seems to be going well at this company and I don’t blame them. Evan Spiegel has been the CEO since he was 20 years old and at age 27, he’s running a $13bn company. It also doesn’t help when a certain bully is hell-bent on stealing your lunch (side-eyeing you Facebook).

So, Snap has brought in a grown up, former Amazon exec Tim Stone as the company’s new CFO. My guess is Tim Stone will be to Snap what Sheryl Sandberg is to Facebook. Tim’s job will be to bring some stability and maturity to the management team. Tim was the vice president of finance at Amazon. He will be paid an annual salary of $500,000

It’s about damn time

We often hear these stories. The typical Silicon Valley ones. Usually in the frame of a young startup founder who worked his socks off, dropped out of college and founded his company which is now a billion dollar company. These stories often skip the part where the founder got $150,000 from his family to start up or the part where he schooled at Harvard and profited from the meritocracy in the system or the part where society thinks highly of him because he’s a white male.

In enters Arlan Hamilton, just three years ago was broke, homeless, sleeping on floors, has no college degree, has no investment background but earlier this month launched a $36 million fund to invest in black female founders. Arlan’s story is one of true grit, persistence and hustle. Arlan knew she wanted to become a VC or at least work at a VC fund, she spent months studying the tools of the trade using youtube, books etc. and after a while moved to Silicon Valley. After no one would give her a job, she started Backstage Cap her VC fund to invest in founders who are not usually in the purview of traditional VCs these are women, People of Color, and LGBT founders.

Today, Arlan has invested more than $4M in over 80 companies. And is about to invest even much more thanks to her newly launch $36m fund which she termed ‘IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME fund’. Going through Arlan’s portfolio companies, you’ll notice one thing - she’s rooting for founders who are not being given the look-in by VCs but have as much grit as she does. To learn more about Arlan, tune in to this season of the Startup podcast.

Blockchain to the rescue

Blockchain has for a long time been just a trendy term without any viable use case attached to the technology. That is beginning to change as a team of IBM researchers and Twiga Foods a Kenyan startup are using the blockchain technology to aid the administering of loans to smallholder farmers and retailers in Kenya. The target demography (farmers and retailers) often finds it hard to secure loans due to a poor or non- existent credit history. While smallholder farmers and retailers are first to benefit from the loans being given out using this process, it is expected to scale to a larger group of people.


And that’s a wrap. If you enjoy this newsletter, I’d love it if you’d tweet or forward to the two people who you think would enjoy it most.

Until next week,


How hard is it to disrupt a bank?

Issue #3

How hard is it to disrupt a bank?

It turns out, it is really hard. Segun Adeyemi, the CEO of AmplifyPay highlighted the incredible moat banks have built around themselves that makes it quite a task to disrupt them. Banks have the scale, relationships, distribution, expertise, data and regulation almost making them untouchable. While it may be a hard time to be a fintech company competing against these banks, it is not impossible to still offer financial services as a startup.

Make Babies

Since banks can’t be disrupted, what do fintechs do? Get in bed and make babies! As Segun highlighted in his article, while banks are good at certain things (mentioned above), they have a proper F9 at user experience, efficiency, flexible structure etc, all these and much more are what startups excel at. Segun’s framework for both parties to work together is that traditional banks offer their infrastructure and startups bring the agility and feel-goody. For this to work, banks have to realise the customers are the most important party in this equation.


🤑 when it rains it pours

Do you remember earlier on the Recursive alpha newsletter, I mentioned that African startups were about to get some love from investors. Well, it’s happening and a big one just happened in the fintech space. Cellulant just raised $47m.

Cellulant is a big deal! The company operates in the fintech space offering financial service products across 11 countries with 94 banks and seven mobile money platforms that have a combined potential customer base of 130m.

The rise fund lead the $47.5m round, other investors that participated includes Endeavour Catalyst and Satya Capital.


Facebook’s been around the block

If you think blockchain is a fad, you may need to think again cos Facebook is getting into cryptocurrencies. A couple of days ago, Facebook launched a massive executive re-organisation and while at it, they added an entire department dedicated to blockchain research. Heading the unit, Facebook has an early bitcoin investor and former PayPal exec David Marcus.

Facebook has had obviously been paying attention to the space as earlier this year, the company banned cryptocurrency ads from it’s platform cos it was believed that many of them are scams.

You know, I feel some type of way about Facebook doing this because the singular reason for blockchain technologies is to sidestep centralised power of which facebook is the poster child. Looking forward to what Facebook does with this.’

The Verge

And that’s a wrap. If you enjoy this newsletter, I’d love it if you’d tweet or forward to the two people who you think would enjoy it most.

Until next week,


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Watch silly cat videos only at $9.99/month

Issue #2

Musk went all savage on analysts and it cost Tesla.. kinda

Thing with being a billionaire is, you can do stuff and get away with it. Just like this douche billionaire VC who didn't want people using the beach close to his property, he proceeded to close the beach and blocked all access to it. There is obviously more to what happened but that’s a story for another day.

Elon Musk was in his full douche billionaire character last week when he berated analysts for asking 'boring', 'dry' and 'uncool' questions. This statement was to say the least, shocking and sent Tesla's shares down 7.5% wiping away over $3 bn off the value of the company.

So, the story goes Tesla had mixed results for Q1 2018.  The company had an all-time high revenue but also made an all-time high net loss. Tesla however reaffirmed to investors that it was expecting to be profitable by the end of 2018 so, no one should be worried. 

It was times for questions and analysts from the top banks in the world went on to ask questions about Tesla’s fundamentals. Musk became irate when he was asked questions that were from analysts who he believed were shorting the Tesla stock. To one of the questions, he replied "Next, next. Boring, bonehead questions are not cool. Next?"He opted to answer questions from a youtuber instead. He explained his actions in this thread on twitter.

Elon Musk@elonmusk

Please ignore this thread unless you’re interested in a tedious discussion about Tesla stock

May 4, 2018

Scroll, scroll, click, buy

It may not be obvious yet but Instagram has entered the e-commerce space and could become a worthy competitor to Amazon. Last week, the company added a payment feature to its app, meaning IG users will have no reason to leave the platform for literally any reason.

"It lets you register a debit or credit card as part of a profile, set up a security pin, then start buying things without ever leaving Instagram" - Techcrunch

Instagram is still testing this feature out with a select group of IG vendors. So, it might take a while before you can use it. I can however see how this will favour companies that use influence marketers as they will have a more measurable metric(purchase per ad) for campaigns.


Stalk your friends and watch silly videos only at $9.99/month

It is no longer news that Facebook has been under intense scrutiny since word got out that Cambridge Analytics used data from Facebook to help Donald Trump win the last US elections. Facebook has reviewed its privacy policy and has started putting plans in place to make one of its most daring tweak yet.

Facebook thinks you, the user, may as well pay for the service it offers because ain't nothing free in this world. But seriously, the company is looking into an ad-free alternative where customers pay a subscription fee and your data will be private and served to absolutely no one for ads.

The company asked some users what they think of the idea and some of them said “Facebook is being greedy and asking for money for something it said would always be free “. I foresee a massive exodus from the platform if users are required to pay for it.

If it goes the whole nine yards with this, Facebook will not be the first social media company to embrace an ad-free subscription model. YouTube has an ad-free paid streaming service called YouTube Red.


And that’s a wrap for this week. If you enjoy this newsletter, I’d love it if you’d tweet or forward to the two people who you think would enjoy it most.

Until next week,


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