Tech continues to thrive in Somalia


May 2, 2019

Today, Alaska finally joins the high-speed net, and Slack’s promise of productivity hasn’t happened yet, but first…
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Mogadishu is hitting the streets with a new hog-hailing app

Disclaimer: While an on-demand swine-hailing service would be very chill, we’re not talking Porky Pig. We’re talking street-legal road-hogs, babayyy.

The Go! app, a new Uber-style taxi app for motorcycles, launched in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu yesterday to help curb commuter headaches in the city’s rustlin’ bustlin’ transport sector.

Per Quartz, the platform was launched by Gulivery, a delivery startup that provides 3rd party door-to-door services, making it the first “moto-taxi” service of its kind in the Horn of Africa region.

More like ‘motordishu’

The increase in digital transportation options comes as more Somali citizens flock back into the country after decades of war.

The influx has led to increased traffic in Mogadishu, which has almost 3m people.

Boda bodas to the rescue

Motorcycle taxis (AKA moto or boda bodas) have ruled the streets in recent years. Now, Go! is trying to capitalize on the whitespace between the elbow-to-elbow tuk-tuk traffic, and bring order to the city’s free-for-all transit system.

Somalia’s budding tech-onomy is having a moment

The country opened its first tech hub in 2017, and since then, e-commerce services have thrived — this despite the fact that Somalian internet use remains low, and weak government regulatory policies continue to cause problems for the work of businesses big and small.

If all goes well, Go!’s founder, Deeq Mohamed, hopes to cruise into more Somalian cities and other African regions in the future — Somalians, start your engines.

Get your motor runnin’
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Blue Apron’s stock is a cautionary tale for 2019’s unprofitable IPOs

Earlier this week, Blue Apron reported its first quarterly profit since going public 2 years ago, reports The Wall Street Journal

But don’t pop the champagne corks just yet: Blue Apron’s stock price has plummeted to 1/10 of its IPO value, and the company lost its 3 founders.

Blue Apron went stale after its IPO

Although Blue Apron helped to kick-start the meal-kit craze, its projected growth failed to materialize.

Since hitting public markets, Blue Apron’s customer count has fallen from over 1m to 550k. The soiled Apron’s stock price is now just $1.05 per share, and if it dips below $1 for 30 days, it could be delisted from the NYSE.

A reminder of the perils of an unprofitable IPO

Blue Apron was unprofitable when it went public 2 years ago, but investors sank money into the ill-fated IPO anyway due to forecasts for continued industry growth. 

Today, the cycle could be starting all over again: A handful of unprofitable startups — Lyft, Pinterest, Chewy.com, Uber — are going public this year. 

Like Blue Apron, they’re flying high on investor confidence. But if industry forecasts fail to materialize, their paths to profitability could be as ugly as the Apron’s.

» Singin’ the Blue Apron blues

Does Slack make people slackers?

Slack — the productivity tool expected to increase efficiency by 25% — sometimes causes productivity to decrease, reports Vox

Slack communication tools encourage office meme-lords to send as many as 1,000 messages a day, raising the question of whether Slack is as productive as it claims to be.

The attack on Slack

Vox’s piece argues the utility of Slack reaches a point of diminishing returns when people start over-communicating.

Many companies have more Slack channels than employees, which causes an information overflow. Employees at large companies send 200 Slack messages per week on average and still use email — which, some people argue, Slack should have replaced.

According to the report, employees are actually slightly more productive during Slack outages.

Is it the people or the product?

Like most new technologies, Slack ushered in some unintended consequences.

New tech sometimes worsens problems it hoped to solve: Rideshare businesses pledged to reduce traffic but put more cars on the road, and social media companies hoped to connect people but left them feeling more alone.

Slack, on the other hand, succeeded. It made communication easier — it just did so for things that matter and things that don’t.

If people aren’t getting things done, don’t blame Slack — blame the slackers.

» Slackers predate Slack

North to the future: Alaska’s brand new fiber-optic network give its state motto new meaning

Ah, Alaska… home to the northern lights, 3 million lakes — and the slowest average internet in the US. 

Alaska’s low population density and outdated submarine fiber networks have kept connections slow, but telecom company MTA announced plans to build a terrestrial line to make Alaska’s first stable connection to the contiguous US. 

This could be huge 

The new, scalable network will lower current (high) transport costs and — in theory — reduce expenses for Alaskan families and businesses. 

The underground cable will run along the highway from North Pole (the town), carrying the gift and cheer of 100+ Tbps connection speeds — benefiting Alaska’s economy, web security and education

But don’t hold your breath 

Although project construction is underway, most communities won’t see the new internet link until 2020, and many rural Alaskan communities remain unreachable.

Still, the state’s overall network should be somewhat improved by “new satellite technologies” and other fiber-optic rollouts.

» No rest till the sun sets
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