Like me, you’re probably still revelling in news of (and reactions to) Flutterwave’s newfound Unicorn status and Apple’s first-of-its-kind-in-Africa appointment of Teju Ajani as Apple Nigeria MD so, your attention is quite bifocal today. Let’s not pretend that any other ‘news’ matters right now, shall we?
While I rummaged my Flutterwave-filled Twitter timeline for any semblance of alternative news, I happened on a 22 year-old interview with Amazon.com founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos. It’s only 12 minutes long but it’s okay if you don’t have the time; I will hyperlink to relevant snippets.
If you prefer to watch it now and then come back, here you go.
For context, this was 1999, just 2 years before the dotcom bubble burst. Any ‘reasonable’ person at time found the apparent overvaluation of internet businesses ridiculous.
Amazon.com was barely 5 years old, had only spent 2 years listed on the Nasdaq Composite and just reported a net loss of $124.5m. Yet, the company was said to be worth 20% more than legacy retail giant, Sears (106 years old at the time), in market cap. So it’s easy to understand why 60 Minutes show host, Bob Simon didn’t even bother to hide his condescension throughout the interview.
But two major things stood out for me in that interview:
- Financial analyst Bruce Smith, who clearly believed in Amazon, readily admitted, “to me, it feels much more like gambling… I don’t find it rational to be honest.”
- At the end, when Bob Simon grilled Jeff Bezos about impending pressure from Walmart, Barnes & Nobble and the possibility of losing it all, he responded, “I know we can lose it all. It’s not a fear; it’s a fact [TRADEMARK LAUGH].”
It’s now 2021, you know how the story turned out.
But I can’t help getting fairly recent ‘local vibes’ from that interview. When Paystack was acquired by Stripe last year for a reported $200m, it was revealed that the 5 year-old startup had become more valuable than 3 major Nigerian banks combined.
I haven’t done the math but I think it’s pretty safe to say that with Flutterwave’s $1bn+ valuation, it’s probably now more valuable than all Nigerian banks combined. But just 3 years ago, during Techpoint Inspired 2.0, a bank executive said that fintechs are not a threat to traditional banks. I’d love to know what he thinks now.
I’d also love to know what the CBN governor, Godwin ‘Thin Air‘ Emefiele thinks, given recent precedents. Should we expect the Nigerian government to also claim this win, like it did with Paystack (‘Youth fintech‘)? Or maybe a nationalisation policy to reclaim local fintech companies from near-invisible foreign hands?
And why did Y Combinator include Flutterwave but omit Paystack from its recently updated list of most valuable ($150m and above) portfolio companies?
These are just a few of many questions on my mind.
- Nigeria starts $3 billion upgrade of key railway line. Read.
- Cassava, a new startups that enables people to insure their income launches in beta.
- Russia says it is slowing down Twitter to protect citizens from illegal content. Read.
- Wefarm raises $11m to expand its knowledge-sharing platform for small-scale farmers. Read.
Have a great day!
Múyìwá Mátùlúkò for Techpoint Africa.
PS: Sorry if today’s edition appears Nigeria-centric. It just so happens that 75% of the most successful African fintech startups are of Nigerian origin.
Featured image by Flutterwave.