Both TikTok and Instagram are testing paid subscription features in the US.
With it, creators will be able to charge monthly fees to subscribers for their exclusive content.
On Instagram, fees will range from $0.99 to $99.99 per month, and according to Instagram’s co-product manager, the platform won’t take a cut from that revenue yet. TikTok has yet to reveal what the price range for its feature will be.
Both platforms follow in the footsteps of social media platforms that allow users to monetize their content. Facebook launched Paid Groups in 2020, while Twitter launched its $uper Followers feature last year.
Perhaps TC should take inspiration from this and impose the prices on our newsletters. 🤑
In today’s edition
Three startups, two exits, one man
The risk of driving self-driving cars
TC Insights: Beyond Equity
Over the weekend, bitcoin prices fell 49%.
On Friday, the flagship cryptocurrency fell below $35,000 from its high of $67,000 in November 2021.
Bitcoin prices fell steadily throughout the month, even falling to $46,000 in the first weeks of January. Last week, however, was the lowest since November.
And it’s not the only one
Other cryptocurrencies are also on the downward spiral, although none of them have plunged like bitcoin.
It all depends on what people think of the coins. If the demand is higher, the value increases. If demand is less than supply, it collapses.
It also means that crypto can be influenced by the public, government, celebrities, and even social media. Every time big companies start accepting crypto as payment, it increases. When governments ban crypto, prices go down. And when celebrities like Elon Musk voice their displeasure, well, you can guess what happens next.
The recent decline, as experts theorize, is the result of several things. The first is the recent article from the Russian central bank which details how cryptocurrencies could threaten Russian investors and assets. The document also came with a proposal to ban crypto trading and mining in the territory. Other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, also impose regulations.
big picture: Trade sorrows coins is not an easy task. Take courage knowing that like moons and like suns, with the certainty of the tides, just like the hopes that spring, again, bitcoin will rise.
THREE STARTUPS, TWO EXITS, ONE MAN
Late last year, Cornell graduate Ishmael Belkhayat completed one of the most demanding competitions of all time, an Ironman triathlon – a race consisting of a 3.86 km swim, 180.25 km bike and a 42.20 km run.
Only 0.01% of the world’s population was able to complete the race. And although Belkhayat is not an athlete, he prides himself on his ability to focus on completing specific tasks.
Completing a triathlon isn’t the most notable pin on Belkhayat’s jacket. He is also a serial entrepreneur who has co-founded startups that provide needed solutions for North Africans.
You want it, you get it
In 2018, five years after its launch, Ishmael Belkhayat’s first startup, YourChaffeur – a ridesharing startup operating in Morocco – was acquired by Avis Car Rental for an undisclosed sum.
His second startup, Sarouty was also acquired by PropertyFinder Group, a few years after its launch to help Moroccans discover, buy or rent land and houses.
In 2020, amid the pandemic, Belkhayat and his wife, Sophia Alj, co-founded Chari, a B2B e-commerce platform that helps informal retailers in Morocco access fast-moving consumer goods. Chari’s app helps merchants place orders and match drivers for delivery. The startup currently transacts about $2.5 million per month. It has signed up over 15,000 merchants, almost half of whom use the platform daily.
Although Chari has yet to be acquired, it is poised to help merchants solve even more problems by digitizing payments.
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THE RISK IN DRIVING AUTONOMOUS CARS
In 2016, the first recorded death involving a self-driving car occurred. Joshua Brown lost his life when his Tesla Model S – on autopilot mode – collided with an 18-wheeler truck after his car’s sensors refused to distinguish between the white color of the truck and the bright sky .
Two years later, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg was crossing the road when she was hit by a self-driving Uber vehicle, then being tested. Prior to Herzberg’s death, self-driving Ubers had been involved in 37 different crashes in the United States.
More recently, in 2019, another Tesla car on autopilot killed two bystanders when it ran a red light and slammed into another car.
Accidents involving self-driving cars have increased as manufacturers flood the roads with new models. This study shows that “there are 9.1 self-driving car accidents per million kilometers traveled, while the same rate is 4.1 accidents per million kilometers for ordinary vehicles”. In 2021, Tesla reported that number as “1 accident per 4.31 million miles driven in which drivers used Autopilot technology.”
Who should be handcuffed while driving?
As automakers optimize their vehicles for Autopilot modes, governments are also beginning to optimize laws to solve the dilemma of who should be at fault.
In Elaine Herzberg’s case, Uber settled out of court, but the backup driver – who was supposed to oversee the test – is charged with negligent homicide.
In other crashes, drivers blame the manufacturers, saying the manufacturers who program the software should be liable for criminal and civil suits. Governments like the United States, on the other hand, are considering enforcing laws that prevent manufacturers from advertising that their cars are “fully self-driving” because there are currently no cars. [for sale] it can be described like this.
What do you think?
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TC INSIGHTS: BEYOND EQUITY
Now is the perfect time to raise funds as a startup in Africa.
After raising $1.3 billion in 2020, funding grew by 276% to an all-time high of $4.9 billion in 2021. Interestingly, much of that was equity. For a long time, venture capitalists and private equity firms have been the lifeblood of tech funding across Africa. Last year, 6% of total funding for African startups was debt.
With debt financing, founders can retain control of their business without ceding it to investors. Still, most founders prefer equity financing. Indeed, most startups operate using intangible assets. As a result, the founders are unable to provide the assets needed for debt financing.
“Debt investors typically seek predictable cash flows or transferable assets (such as real estate) to secure their exposures,” said Ayobamigbe Teriba, analyst at Ingressive Capital on a call with TechCabal. “Debt investors may feel like the returns they can earn from exposure to startups don’t compensate them enough for the risks they face,” he added.
Ultimately, startups that meet cash and asset requirements can easily access debt, criteria that many startups cannot meet.
“Short-term debt financing is also accessible if backed by inventory; for example, retailers and e-commerce providers. In contrast, an early-stage biotech is likely to struggle to secure debt financing,” Teriba further explained.
The African tech ecosystem is still young. The business models and risk management of its startups remain a work in progress. As they mature, debt financing will become a viable means of financing on the continent.
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