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,