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Tag Archives: africa

Pew: Social media still growing in emerging markets but stalled elsewhere

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s (so far) five-year project to  expand access to the Internet in emerging markets  makes plenty of business sense when you look at the latest  report by the Pew Research Center — which shows social media use has plateaued across developed markets but continues to rise in the developing world. In 2015-16, roughly four-in-ten adults across the emerging nations surveyed by Pew said they used social networking sites, and as of 2017, a majority (53%) use social media. Whereas, over the same period, social media use has generally been flat in many of the advanced economies surveyed. Internet use and smartphone ownership have also stayed level in developed markets over the same period vs rising in emerging economies. Pew polled more than 40,000 respondents in 37 countries over a roughly three month period in February to May last year for this piece of research. The results show how developing markets are of clear and vital importance for social behemoth Facebook as a means to eke continued growth out of its primary ~15-year-old platform — plus also for the wider suite of social products it’s acquired around that. (Pew’s research asked people about multiple different social media sites, with suggested examples being country-specific  — though Facebook and Twitter were staples.) Especially — as Pew also found — of those who use the internet, people in developing countries often turn out to be more likely than their counterparts in advanced economies to network via social platforms such as Facebook (and Twitter) . Which in turn suggests there are major upsides for social platforms getting into an emerging Internet economy early enough to establish themselves as a go-to networking service. This dynamic doubtless explains why Facebook has been so leaden in its response to some very stark risks attached to how its social products accelerate the spread and consumption of misinformation in some developing countries, such as Myanmar  and India . Pulling the plug on its social products in emerging markets essentially means pulling the plug on business growth. Though, in the face of rising political risk attached to Facebook’s own business and growing controversies attached to various products it offers, the company has reportedly rowed back from offering its ‘Free Basics’ Internet.org package in more than half a dozen countries in recent months, according to analysis by  The Outline . In March , for example, the UN warned that Facebook’s platform was contributing to the spread of hate speech and ethnic violence in crisis-hit Myanmar. The company has also  faced specific questions from US and EU lawmakers  about its activities in the country — with scrutiny on the company dialed up to 11 after a major global privacy scandal that broke this spring

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After Nyne and Olympus Launch New London Gallery

After Nyne Gallery are proud to unveil their first exhibition space in Holland Park, London, in collaboration with Olympus. This inaugural exhibition will display some remarkable works by Olympus brand ambassadors such as Martina Govindraj, whose work engages with architecture and concepts of space, and award winning Steve Gosling renowned for his signature black and white atmospheric landscapes.

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Sony World Photography Awards 2019 Now Open

The 12th edition of the Sony World Photography Awards, the world’s most diverse photography competition, is now open. Photographers have until November 30, 2018 to enter the Student competition, January 4, 2019 for the Open and Youth competitions, and January 11, 2019 for Professional. 

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Walmart sells 80% of its Brazilian operation to Advent Intl, will record $4.5B loss as a result

Walmart’s ongoing push to cut away unprofitable or slow-growing international operations, to shore up its resources to compete against Amazon at home and in Asia on digital fronts, had another development today. The world’s largest retailer today announced that it has finalised a deal to sell 80 percent of its business in Brazil to private equity firm Advent International, with Walmart keeping the remaining 20 percent. The deal has been in the works for months and is expected to close later this year. Walmart and Advent are not disclosing the terms of the deal (we are asking) but Walmart did note in a statement that it would record a non-cash net loss of $4.5 billion in Q2 as a result. “A significant portion of the net loss is due to the recognition of cumulative foreign currency translation losses and the final loss could fluctuate significantly due to changes in currency exchange rates up to the date of close,” noted Walmart. Although Brazil represents the biggest single market in Latin America, the company has found it a struggle to grow that business substantially and last quarter said that it would wind down its first-party e-commerce business in Brazil, too. “Walmart is committed to building strong, resilient businesses that continuously adapt to local customers’ needs in a rapidly changing world,” said Enrique Ostale, EVP and CEO of Walmart UK, Latin America and Africa, in a statement. “We will retain a stake in Walmart Brazil and continue to share our global retail expertise, giving our Brazil business the best opportunity for long-term growth, providing opportunities for associates and low prices for customers.” Advent is a prolific investor and controls a number of businesses in Brazil , including many retail companies, and the idea appears to be to use some of that to expand the operation in ways that Walmart hadn’t managed to do on its own. “We have been in Brazil for over 20 years and are excited about this partnership with one of the country’s leading retailers,” said Patrice Etlin, a Managing Partner at Advent International in Brazil, in a statement. “We believe that with our local market knowledge and retail expertise we can position the company to generate significant results and reach new levels of success in Brazil.

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Orange and Google form new partnership to invest in and buy EMEA startups

Google, more recently by way of parent company Alphabet, has been a prolific investor in startups across the globe by way of entities like GV and CapitalG. Today, it announced its newest effort in this area, specifically outside of the US. The search and Android giant is partnering with Orange Digital Ventures, the corporate venture fund of the French carrier Orange, on a new effort to find, fund, and potentially acquire startups in the EMEA region, and specifically in the areas of the internet of things, cybersecurity, cloud services, AI, fintech and connectivity solutions. The two are not disclosing a specific fund size, nor are they talking about any financial terms in this deal at this point, except to note that the investments could potentially be made at any stage, from seed to growth, depending on the startup in question. The two expect the first investments to be announced later this year. “Our goal is to join forces in financing the most promising digital startups,” said Marc Rennard, the CEO of Orange Digital Ventures (ODV), said in an interview. “We will then work together to qualify them, and when a common interest is there, we will join forces to invest in them.” To be clear, Google has confirmed to me that this is not an extension of GV or CapitalG but activity out of its corporate development arm, which also makes investments into companies when they are viewed as strategic to Google and a potential route to an acquisition. (One, slightly outsized, example of one these investments in a third party would be Google’s $1.1 billion deal to buy a part of HTC.) “We are delighted to support Orange’s ecosystem of start-ups and innovation and to explore alongside them opportunities for co-investment in Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EMEA),” said Carlo d’Asaro Biondo, EMEA President of Google Partnerships, in a statement. “Orange’s ecosystem is consistent with Google’s know-how and our ability to accelerate the growth of start-ups. This partnership is a way to enhance our collective contribution to innovation in this region.” Indeed, in a sense, the deal is mutually beneficial for both sides. On the part of Google, the company has strong dealflow and outreach particularly among US startups, in keeping with it being based there, and when it comes to GV or CapitalG either in the US, Europe, or elsewhere, the efforts are not intended primarily to be strategic to Google’s own interests. But when it comes to connecting with startups in EMEA that might be useful companies for Google to work with and potentially acquire to expand its business, it may not be seeing as many of those as it wants to. Rennard said that Orange, on the other hand, gets on average around 1,200 startups pitching it for investment each year, and that’s before you consider startups that might get introduced through other VCs it works with already like Partech. The thinking here is that working with Google will help ODV better filter some of those opportunities to make sure that the most interesting startups with the most potential get spotted and backed, and also to help Orange and Google both get in on the best deals in what appears to be a competitive investing environment at the moment

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Navigating the risks of artificial intelligence and machine learning in low-income countries

Aubra Anthony Contributor Aubra Anthony is the strategy and research lead for the Center for Digital Development within the US Agency for International Development. On a recent work trip, I found myself in a swanky-but-still-hip office of a private tech firm. I was drinking a freshly frothed cappuccino, eyeing a mini-fridge stocked with local beer, and standing amidst a group of hoodie-clad software developers typing away diligently at their laptops against a backdrop of Star Wars and xkcd comic wallpaper. I wasn’t in Silicon Valley: I was in Johannesburg, South Africa, meeting with a firm that is designing machine learning (ML) tools for a local project backed by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Around the world, tech startups are partnering with NGOs to bring machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to bear on problems that the international aid sector has wrestled with for decades. ML is uncovering new ways to  increase crop yields  for rural farmers. Computer vision lets us leverage  aerial imagery  to improve crisis relief efforts. Natural language processing helps us gauge community sentiment  in poorly connected areas. I’m excited about what might come from all of this. I’m also worried. AI and ML have huge promise, but they also have limitations. By nature, they learn from and mimic the status quo–whether or not that status quo is fair or just

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Macron defends the European way of tech regulation

French President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech at VivaTech in Paris, alternating between French and English. He defended a third way to regulate tech companies, which is different from the U.S. and from China. Macron thinks Europe should have a say when it comes to regulation — and it shouldn’t be just about privacy. Of course, he defended GDPR and online privacy, but he also talked about taxes, cyberbullying, the protection of independent workers and more. What is at stake is how we build a European model reconciling innovation and common good Emmanuel Macron Yesterday, Macron hosted 50 tech CEOs to talk about leveraging tech for the common good, especially when it comes to education, labor and diversity. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talked about the event before Macron took the stage. Macron first started with a few numbers on the French tech ecosystem. “I want to talk to the entire French ecosystem here today. What we’re all doing is essential for our country and the world,” he said. Based on his numbers, startups raised $2.9 billion in France last year (€2.5 billion). That’s three times as much as in 2015. He then listed some of the recent changes, from corporate taxes to France’s open data policy and the French Tech Visa . He didn’t have much to say about the tech industry in particular

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50 tech CEOs come to Paris to talk about tech for good

Ahead of VivaTech , 50 tech CEOs came to Paris to have lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron. Then, they all worked together on “tech for good”. The event was all about leveraging tech around three topics — education, labor and diversity. At the end of the day, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe invited everyone for a speech in Matignon. It wasn’t a groundbreaking speech as Macron is also speaking at VivaTech tomorrow morning. “We’re trying to pivot France,” Philippe said. With great power comes great responsibility Édouard Philippe Maurice Lévy, the former CEO of Publicis, one of the two companies behind VivaTech with Les Échos, first introduced the event, as well as Eric Hazan from McKinsey. McKinsey worked on the data that was used to start those discussions. So let’s see what they talked about. “As McKinsey showed, there’s no question that technology overall is a net creator of job and GDP. It’s a positive force,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said. “At the same time, AI and automation, while driving the economy and productivity, … will lead to large groups being disadvantaged.” He then listed a few important points to make sure that nobody is going to be left behind, such as coaching and mentorship programs. “This is not just the government’s job but it is also the job of private companies,” Khosrowshahi added. He wanted to remain hopeful and it felt a bit like a lobbying effort. “It’s easy to see the lost of jobs because of automation

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Southeast Asia’s Carro raises $60M for its automotive classifieds and car financing service

Carro , an automotive classifieds service and car financing startup based in Singapore, has closed a $60 million Series B round to scale its business in Southeast Asia. The deal was co-led by SoftBank Ventures Korea, Insignia Ventures — the firm from ex-Sequoia Asia partner Yinglan Tan — and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group. Other participants include IDG Ventures India founder Manika Arora (via his family fund) and existing Carro backers Venturra, Singtel Innov8, Golden Gate Ventures and Alpha JWC. Carro raised a $12 million Series A round in March 2017 . This latest capital takes it to $78 million from investors to date, according to Crunchbase . The 2.5-year-old company said in an announcement that $250 million of vehicles were sold last year across its three markets: Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore. That’s more than double the $120 million it claimed in 2016. Last March, Carro introduced its Genie Finance underwriting business, and over its first year, it claims to have originated over $100 million in loans while amassing a loan book of nearly $40 million. Carro CEO Aaron Tan previously spent time at Singtel Innov8 and is one of a trio of co-founders. Tan told TechCrunch that the capital will initially be spent growing Carro’s business in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, but further down the line, there’s a plan for expansion. “The exact markets are still to be determined but it may be a small setup in Japan and other sources of cars,” he added

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The crypto alternative

Suppose, just for a moment, just for argument’s sake, that (some) cryptocurrencies are not a giant scam, and what’s more, they’re not just another kind of financial asset. Come on. Don’t look at me like that. Work with me here. Imagine, just for a moment, that there exist plausible futures in which they matter . An interesting question to ask is: what exactly do those futures look like? Because if we can’t come up with any compelling answers, then we may conclude, by reductio ad absurdum, that a cryptofuture is awfully unlikely. So let’s walk through a few scenarios, shall we? And then judge how likely each one is. 1. The Crypto Maximalist Future Situation : Bitcoin is the global currency. Except for “System D,” of course, and transactions hidden for reasons of tax avoidance, which run on ZCash, which is (ineffectively) banned by governments who fear the loss of their tax revenue from earned income hidden by zk-SNARKs. All retail transactions run through Lightning hubs, constantly watched and verified by AIs. People maintain their own private keys, without which all of their life savings effectively vanish. These keys also maintain all of their own personal data, which they approve for usage by dapps on the Ethereum “world computer,” which performs billions of transactions per second courtesy of Plasma and (again) AIs monitoring the system with fraud proofs at the ready.

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Africa Roundup: Safaricom unveils Bonga, Africa’s Talking gets $8.6M, TechCrunch visits Nigeria, Ghana

Jake Bright Contributor Jake Bright is a writer and author in New York City. He is co-author of The Next Africa . More posts by this contributor Safaricom rolls out Bonga social networking platform to augment M-Pesa Business solutions firm Africa’s Talking closes $8.6M round led by IFC March and April saw   fresh VC in Africa, mobile money merge with social media, motorcycle taxis digitize, and TechCrunch in Nigeria and Ghana. Africa’s Talking with more VC Business APIs on the continent got a boost from global venture capital thanks to an $8.6 million round for  Africa’s Talking —a Kenyan based enterprise software company. The new financing was led by  IFC Venture Capital , with participation from  Orange Digital Ventures  and Social Capital. Africa’s Talking works with developers to create solution focused APIs across SMS, voice, payment, and airtime services. The company has a network of 20,000 software developers and 1000 clients including  solar power venture  M-Kopa  and financial conglomerate Ecobank. Africa’s Talking operates in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Tanzania and maintains a private cloud space in London. Revenues come primarily from fees on a portion of the transactional business its solutions generate. The company plans to use the round to hire in Nairobi. It will also expand in other African geographies and invest in  IoT , analytics, payments, and cloud offerings. CEO Samuel Gikandi and IFC Ventures’ Wale Ayeni offered insight on the round in this  TechCrunch feature . M-Pesa the social network   Kenya’s largest telco, Safaricom, rolled out a new social networking platform called  Bonga , to augment its M-Pesa mobile money product

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Frontier Car Group raises another $58M for its used-car marketplace for emerging economies

We’ve seen a large wave of used-car sales startups launch across developed markets like the U.S. and Europe, disrupting a marketplace that has largely been untouched for years. Now a startup focusing on the used car-sales opportunity specifically in developing economies is ramping up its activities. Frontier Car Group , a Berlin startup that has built a used car marketplace targeted specifically at countries outside of Western Europe and North America, is announcing $58 million in funding — $41 million in equity and $17 million in debt funding — to continue expanding its business into Africa, Latin America and Asia, where it has sold 50,000 vehicles since launching at the end of 2016 and is on track to do $200 million in annualised revenues per year. The Series B brings was led by Balderton Capital and TPG Growth (both of which participated in Frontier’s previous $22 million round), with Fraser McCombs Capitaland Autotech Ventures — two automotive-specific funds — also participating. Frontier is not disclosing its valuation with this round but a source close to the company said the demand to participate in this round was high and led to two unsolicited Series C term sheets — each for around $100 million — and both on a pre-money valuations of over $200 million. Developing markets continue to be a huge focus for tech companies when their home countries become to competitive or growth there starts to slow, and that trend has inevitably tipped into startups also targeting those markets from the very start. Sujay Tyle — Frontier’s 24 year-old American CEO (who comes with an impressive record: he went to Harvard aged 15, and has a degree from there in Economics; and he has also been a Thiel Fellow), who co-founded the company with  Peter Lindholm (COO), and André Kussmann (CTO) — said that the choice to launch first and only in countries like Mexico and Nigeria, two of Frontier’s largest markets, was borne out of a couple of reasons. “I fell in love with the Auto1 model,” he said, in reference to another Berlin startup that earlier this year laid claim to the highest-ever venture round raised by a European startup when it landed €460 million from Softbank , “and I could see how it could be applied to emerging markets. E merging markets represents nascency.” Used car marketplace startups in countries like the US or in Europe have been focused on making it easier or faster or more flexible to own a used car — examples being the well-capitalised Fair.com, the now-public Carvana, and Auto1. Frontier’s service (which has different branding in each market) is modelled on these.

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