Thank you Dangote 🙏
If you write a newsletter on technology and business in Nigeria, Sundays are pretty horrific. Technology reporters and writers are almost like high-end restaurants; they hate Mondays, come alive on Wednesdays, and unlike those restaurants, they promptly close shop on weekends.
It means that Sunday and Monday newsletters are a lot of scavenging - these are the days you convince yourself that Jumia's share price falling to $22 a pop is a good story. It's rough I tell ya.
Not for me this Sunday though because as I was preparing to spend all of this newsletter griping, guess who lands in my lap, billions and all? My big man, Aliko Dangote, about whom I wrote a story on Friday. Lately I have taken more of a liking to him now that Showdemcamp's "Clone Wars V" has skits of "Big Liko," - no relations of course.
Dangote started this year by showing us his ass and when you start the year by seeing a billionaire's yansh on your Twitter timeline, you know it's about to be a weird ass year - no pun intended. The cement billionaire has some real big problems, according to this report.
Most of those problems are from the financiers of his refinery deciding they want their money back after the already risky project shifted its date of expected completion for the eight time. The article also does a good job of explaining why NNPC spent $$$ Nigeria doesn't have to buy a 20% stake in the uncompleted refinery. Oh to be a government aided and protected billionaire.
Dangote's gbese problems go beyond banks all the way down to his contractors. It reminds me of a conversation I had with Jimi and Mayowa over mortuary standard beer on Saturday evening after my exams - thanks, it was a breeze. We were joking about founders and their compulsive need to complain about how difficult it is to retain staff.
"We can't keep our best hands," - yet another founder
I love startups for two reasons: they're easily the best place to grow your career, and they're also the likely the only places where you'll see all parts of the business. Startups give you perspective, but they share the frustration of needing to hold on to their best hands.
If I had a dollar for every time a startup founder complained about this - wait, I made this joke on Friday - but you get my drift. While some of these founders sometimes have legitimate points, employees can provide interesting context. This is why that publication's article about the Orange Holding company was a bit of a letdown. If you're a little lost at this point, I'm afraid I can't help you, I have too many conflicting interests to speak plainly.
Many companies are learning that the internet flattening things isn't just talk. Employees who aren't paid well and who don't see a future at the company are unlikely to stay. Yes, I'm looking at you, that founder who thinks KPMG people will come and work for you because you let your employees wear jeans 😒
Here's the bigger story; foreign companies are scooping up Nigerian talent at discounted prices - one foreign tech company reportedly hired the entire dev team of a top Nigerian company. This is a good thing- but where are the next set of talents coming from? That's the big story - and so you won't say I didn't mention it, if you have $$ to offer me remotely, I'm available 🙏.
If you leave me be, I can rant on this talent thing for hours. Instead, I'll close this with something that's been annoying me for a minute.
They are not becoming media companies ffs
The media and media people like nothing more than to write about themselves and their industry - I would know, I used to be one of them; look at that flex man. The latest thing is now a Nigerian conversion - it's happening globally as well - that tech companies are becoming media companies and will crush existing media companies.
I admit it, I may have tweeted something about stuff like this before but I think we're all getting ahead of ourselves. As my friend Jimi puts it, "companies are learning to think like media companies." But it doesn't make them media companies, mostly because their media efforts are almost always for marketing purposes.
Now this isn't a defence of the media, a sector that is in flux and will keep changing in response to real and perceived challenges. Newer and well funded industries will continue to steal top journalists because there's value in clearly telling customers stuff while selling them some other stuff. The game is the game.
But there's nothing more to respond to here - tech companies simply won't devote their time and attention to the sort of obsessive focus that happens in newsrooms - the money to be made isn't impressive enough. I may be wrong but this is how I feel about it. Media is a difficult bull to ride.
Which brings me to someone saying last week that he would gladly pay $25 a year for this newsletter - I swear that's not my girlfriend's anonymous comment. But in the interest of full disclosure, this newsletter is very subscription-first and I expect that I'll slap a paywall on before 2022. It won't be anything too wild, just enough for me to have beers on weekends while I write - please use the comment section to tell me if I'm a mad person.
If you can already tell, my Friday newsletters will be a lot different from Sunday's newsletters. Sundays will really feel like I'm across the table from you drinking beer while you're paying. And if you didn't already know, this Friday and Sunday scheduling is from Reuben Abati, who used to be a legend while I was growing up. Now he's that annoying man on AriseTV, but we move.
Please remember to leave a comment, write me if that's your thing - firstname.lastname@example.org - and here's to a new week with two public holidays in the middle. I'm drinking Trophy btw, have a good week people!