Showing posts from January, 2016

Africa’s Tech Gold Rush

Originally @ TechCrunch Africa is on the verge of something big. This seems to be a quiet, cautious consensus in some investment communities. The past year has been peppered with stories of tech startup hubs emerging across the continent, from Lagos to Kigali to Agadir. The model of American tech entrepreneurship looks to be slowly sparking a renaissance in the Silicon Sahara. As the gaze of America’s VCs begins to settle on African entrepreneurs, many open questions are left unanswered. Will Africa play host to the tech world’s next gold rush? Can these markets stay stable enough to grow the next billion-dollar Internet companies? Does Africa have what it takes to emulate Silicon Valley? The answer is a resounding “Yes.” Big things are ahead for African tech. But to understand the rising star for Africa, you first must understand why the road to Africa goes through China. The running of the bulls: China’s economic rollercoaster The Chinese credit crunch and the crash of the S

Too Private To Fail

Originally @ TechCrunch At a San Francisco Halloween party this year, I ran into a man wearing nothing but bubble wrap, covered in glitter, waving a wand. “I’m a unicorn,” he explained. Anyone from the bankers on Sand Hill to the barista at Philz can tell you: a unicorn is a startup that reaches the rare and vaunted high-water mark of a $1 billion valuation. Except that it’s no longer that rare. Or vaunted. In fact, there are now over 150 of these companies, almost none of them public. And that is starting to be a problem. Not necessarily for executives, who nimbly broker “private IPO’s,” or investors, whose preferred shares insulate them from downside risk. The real risk is to the rank-and-file employees who staff these Silicon Valley juggernauts and who stand to lose the most from a tech bubble. 2016 will be a definitive year for tech. Bubbles adhere to a weird uncertainty principle: you can’t be in one if everybody knows it. Yet for years running now, the town criers of Sil