#27. Media: can't avoid it, can't live without it

A press discrete investor, the costs of Internet shutdowns, and understanding the African business media landscape.

Welcome! Have you ever wondered:

  • Tiger Global is everywhere… who are they? 🐯💸

  • What are the economic effects of Internet shutdowns in African countries? 🔌🚫

  • Looking for a guide in the African media landscape? 📰🌍

If so, keep reading…


🌴 Psst: I’m going on vacation for the next two weeks. The next issue of Emerging Markets explorer 🧭 will hit your inbox on August 30th.

Tiger Global: Softbank, you’re not alone

When I wrote the profile on Softbank, they were mostly the ones doing the boldest moves and the others being wowed / hating / not keeping up to pace.

However, in my inbox, another name started appearing more, and more, and more.

They are Tiger Global. Tiger Global Management is an American investment firm, that recently got an appetite for strong investments, including emerging markets. They’ve invested in 120 startups so far in 2021.

And how do they do this? Well, in a Not Boring article, Packy wrote a deep dive on a Tiger Global investee, Unit21. He highlights how the process for Tiger Global seems fast: they talked to Unit21, agreed on valuation and goals, and the following day they presented the term sheet. However, don’t be fooled by this speed: before the conversation with the founder, they had taken the time to do extensive research on the company.

Tiger Global operates in Emerging Markets too. Their favorite emerging market has to be India. Since 2010, at least 25% of their deals have been in India. And it got intense this year: the value of the deals is $7.78BN so far, already quadrupling the investment from 2020.

Their investees include Flipkart, CRED, Infra.Market, or DealShare, and they often participate in several funding rounds for a startup.

They have some positions in other emerging markets, such as FairMoney, a neobank operating in Nigeria and India; or Habi, a Colombian proptech company.

Since I started the article comparing Tiger Global and Softbank, for your musings, this article compares them. Their main difference is that Softbank LOVES PRESS, while Tiger Global prefers to remain press discrete. They have in common that both companies have a big, open checkbook. And they are not enemies: in funding rounds for Revolut or Habi, they have participated together.

The bottom line? Nowadays it seems that investment activity has become stronger, perhaps for a better economic situation, after the pandemic. One can only wonder where this investment will propel companies.

Failure story: Internet shutdowns in Africa

Internet shutdowns commanded by governments are an unfortunate reality still happening in some African countries. TechCabal reported that in 2021 eight African countries have experienced partial or total Internet shutdowns. The list includes Ethiopia, Uganda, Gabon, Senegal, Niger, Chad, Nigeria, and eSwatini.

On top of the effects of the daily life of people, despite moderate levels of Internet adoption, are the economic impacts of an Internet shutdown. Netblocks developed a tool estimating the cost of an Internet shutdown to a country’s economy, based on development indicators, including the GDP % ICT represents for a country or how it might affect productivity. It gave values of $42M for Nigeria shutting down Twitter for a week or of $4.5M for Ethiopia for shutting down the Internet for a day.

The role of telecommunications companies during Internet shutdowns is a tricky one, as well. When executing the government commands to shut it down, they suffer from the reputational damage of being complicit in their execution, resulting in impacts as hard as human rights violations. Some recommendations for telcos include challenging those shutdowns legally and keeping the Internet working. This decision, however, represents a threat from a business point of view: governments shutting down the Internet have authoritarian tendencies, and they might threaten to remove the operating licenses.

However, courts have not always been complicit: in some cases, like in Zimbabwe in 2019, they wrote rulings that penalized the shutdowns and commanded the Internet activity to resume. Other powerful actors against the shutdowns have been civil activist organizations, such as Access Now.

Source recommendation: Communique

Communique is a monthly newsletter with the best business media analysis in Africa. It analyzes the intersection of media, technology, and the digital economy in Africa.

I discovered Communique through its authors’ article on Decode Fintech, and as much as I might be more bullish than him on this medium; I stayed because of the expertise he brings of media.

David Adeke writes Communique. He is a professional in the media industry, focusing on business. He provides an insight into what is going on in African media, what trends matter, why is the landscape like that, and how it’s evolving.

You can read it here:

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