These 5 latest stories from the tech space will keep you updated with trends today.
1. Nigeria’s FCMB launches agric-tech pitch competition
Nigeria’s First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has announced its partnership with Passion Incubator, a portfolio company of Secondscore, to launch the FCMB Agritech EPIC Pitch 2020. According to the bank, the competition will provide early and growth-stage entrepreneurs with prerequisite resources to grow and scale their agri-tech businesses. While it is designed to run as a virtual programme, it will equally support agri-tech businesses with seed investment, and access to workspace, market and networks.
The focus, however, of the first edition of the programme, will be “on solutions in processing, production and storage, agricultural finance, agricultural marketing, and supply chain”, according to a public statement from the organising body. In pulling this through, FCMB has set aside NGN1.5 million (US$4,000) to support the top two startups in the programme. According to FCMB, other benefits will include mentor support, workspace, and access to market and networks.
2. Fintech startup Franc secures $300k in seed funding round
For the first half of 2020, despite the devastating effect of the pandemic, South Africa-based Fintech startup Franc has secured US$300,000 in funding as part of its wider round of seed investment. The 2 year old firm launched as an investment robo-advisor by serving as a class of financial adviser that provides financial advice or investment management online with moderate to minimal human intervention. Since its inception, the Fintech player has helped people who have never invested before access the best cash and equity funds in the market.
Speaking on the value proposition, a spokesperson from the firm noted that its ambition stemmed from its vision to democratise the investment process while facilitating a seamless loop for the people. He said: “We want to democratise access to investing by making investing easy and accessible. We want everyone to be able to create wealth and realise their dreams.” However, further speaking on its current position, the firm revealed that it was “…still in the process of trying to raise further funding, and confirming new investors as” time goes by.
In 2014, Facebook acquired Whatsapp for?
A. $1 billion
B. $8 billion
C. $19 billion
D. $37 billion
Answer: See end of post.
3. America looks at banning TikTok over security concerns
As micro-video sharing app TikTok struggles to stay strong amidst fear losing more markets, America is taking steps to ban the use of the app. This development was disclosed by the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, in a recent interview granted to press, noting that a number of security breach has plagued TikTok since its inception. He warned that viewers should only download the app if they want their “private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Contrary to the words of the American leader, a TikTok spokesperson has refuted claims on the app being use as a spy by the Chinese government. “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S,” he said. Adding that, “We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”
4. Remote work culture threatens office property sector globally
As more firms opt for a remote working culture aided by technology, and as a reaction to the global pandemic, the retail property sector looks threatened, and may line among one of the severely endangered sectors after the pandemic. Already, property investors in South Africa are showing growing concerns. According to property economists report Rode & Associates, the pandemic may advance the trend of working from home. The publication reads: “Companies might reduce their required office space as more employees work from home on a permanent basis, leading to a prolonged oversupplied market.”
According to Kobus Lamprecht, head of research at Rode & Associates, noted, however, that the impact of this trend “will be offset somewhat” by more space required per employee in order to adhere to Covid-19 social distancing guidelines. Citing statistics from the S.A. Property Owners Association (Sapoa) Office Vacancy Report for the first quarter of 2020, he noted that decentralised vacancy rates nationally for Grade A and Grade B offices combined averaged 11.1%. According to him, “This was up from 10.6% in the fourth quarter of 2019 and the worst rate since early 2004”, hence, expecting “vacancy rates to increase sharply over the rest of 2020 and into 2021 as more companies close.”
5. Facebook portfolio company Unacademy acquires PrepLadder for $50 million
India-based online learning platform Unacademy, one of Facebook’s numerous portfolio company, has announced on Tuesday its acquisition of the Chandigarh-based startup PrepLadder for $50 million. According to press, the new investment comes in form of a cash and stock deal, which will see the Facebook-backed edtech giant open deals to expand its presence in the country. PrepLadder offers courses aimed at medical students, and currently has more than 80,000 subscribers.
Industry analysts have noted that the acquisition of PrepLadder comes as both Unacademy and Byju’s (the two edtech leaders in India) have engaged in M&A talks with several local startups in recent months to further their dominance in the nation. On expansion, Unacademy has accelerated its growth in recent months as schools across the country closed in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Reviews, however, indicated that the 5 year old startup has amassed over 30 million learners on its platform with more than 700,000 users accessing its app and website each day.
Tech Trivia Answer: $19 billion
After observing that messaging app Whatsapp was a potential Facebook killer, Mark Zuckerberg decided to purchase the App to get it off the hook of rivals. When Facebook announced its plans to acquire WhatsApp in February 2014, WhatsApp’s founders attached a purchase price of $16 billion: $4 billion in cash and $12 billion remaining in Facebook shares. Facebook agreed to pay $19.6 billion—adding $3.6 billion to the original price as compensation to WhatsApp employees for staying on board at Facebook.
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