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Seun Osewa, Nairaland ‘Playing Too Small’

Nairaland has failed to leverage its young and enthusiastic diverse community to chart a new course for the seemingly young Nigeria’s developing tech industry

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Nairaland is arguably the biggest African forum and one of the largest online forums in the world, with over 3.2 million topics posted to date, and a preferable platform for about 1.7 million users. It sits atop most African online businesses, this includes Linda Ikeja’s blog, self-acclaimed Africa’s richest blogger.

However, Nairaland has failed to leverage its young and enthusiastic diverse community to chart a new course for the seemingly young Nigeria’s developing tech industry. Ranked 1,000 most visited websites in the world and 8th in Nigeria, Seun Osewa, the CEO and founder of Nairaland has not just relegated Nairaland to an ordinary sole proprietor business, but also failed to capitalize on its voluminous database that dated back to 2005, and doubled as the most ‘unique’ unused Nigerian search engine.

Unique in the sense that Nairaland’s database comprises contents from people that take pride in telling their stories, everyday stories, and global happenings through unconventional reporting style, these individuals don’t just tell stories, they validate them with pictures, videos and sometimes links to substantiate their experience during the occurrence as they are sometimes eyewitnesses.

Accordingly, these stories alert the authorities, corporations, stakeholders, etc. to the urgency of the matter, therefore, creating an enabling platform for socio-consciousness and community police across the Nigerian Federation. While also serving as a meeting point for like-minded people.

But over time, Nairaland has been misrepresented or presented as an ordinary forum that can’t create real jobs, even by its founder. This misconception has limited his vision for Africa’s largest social news aggregation and discussion website.

According to a Seun Osewa comment, after Mark Zuckerberg commends Jobberman Founders “The Jobberman founders deserve to be commended by Zuckerberg because they created a real business employing lots and lots of people and they have an inspiring story that is quite similar to Zuckerberg’s story. I am just a lone geek who runs a web forum. There’s no comparison.”

The quote above gives an insight into his understanding of ‘Nairaland’ as a business. For instance, Reddit is to the U.S., what Nairaland is to Nigeria, but while Reddit has been able to leverage its diverse audience for growth and is currently valued at $500 million, with the possibility of going public in 2017. Nairaland is still struggling with the right revenue model and was forced to drop its ads rates by about 40 percent within two years.

Nairaland was founded a mouth before Reddit Inc. was created in April 2005.

This is an indication that advertisers are wary of the platform. The question is how so? Because this is a website that attracts more than 29 million visitors and 170 million page views per month. The answer is simple ‘playing too small’.

Playing Too Small

Perhaps, Linda Ikeji is a perfect example and she is not a programmer, but knows what she wants and constantly searches for talents to help bring her vision to life. This forward-thinking has translated into multiple businesses and job creation. While, Nairaland has a broader database built around eyewitness reporting, social networking with a series of wedding testimonies and enthusiastic users, Linda Ikeji launched a similar product three weeks ago and already has 150,000 users, almost 10 percent of Nairaland’s current users. In fact, she was approached by some investors willing and ready to invest as much as $2 million (₦940,000,000) in Linda Ikeji Social this week, a start-up of three weeks. Pushing the limit!

Pushing the limit

Throughout the year, Nairaland has remained the same without a single change or new product. While tech companies are constantly launching new products to retain old users and attract new ones, Nairaland continued to service the same old users with multiple accounts. The truth is Nairaland needs more than Seun Osewa at this stage to maximize its potential, especially in terms of innovation and creativity. It is just a lot for one person.

Brand representation

Nairaland is the first brand in its category with no known face, even the moderators do not know. While its founder has a right to his privacy, users and stakeholders need to know what Nairaland’s mission and vision are and how Nairaland as a platform can impact their lives. So, someone that shares those values needs to be the brand ambassador and constantly represent Nairaland as a brand. This, will not just introduce Nairaland to new users, but strengthen its position as a true brand

12/19/2022 – Update after seven years

Seun now has a vibrant Twitter account @seunosewa and made a few other changes. However, Nairaland remained largely the same.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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All You Need to Know About Google’s AI Chatbot “Bard”

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A logo is pictured at Google's European Engineering Center in Zurich

Bard is Google’s soon-to-be-launched AI search assistant that will work in the background of search queries to provide in-depth information on users’ results.

Bard was rolled out by the tech giant earlier this month, in response to OpenAI Chatbot ChatGPT which is currently the rave of the moment, that has amassed over 1 million users daily.

Bard is reported to be Google’s first shot at ChatGPT as it seeks to compete with the chatbot, as well as possibly displace it.

What Powers Bard?

Bard is powered by a language model to enable it to converse with humans efficiently. The Chatbot uses a language model for dialogue applications (LaMDA) as its model.

LaMDA is a type of Large Language Model (LLM), which are software algorithms trained on huge amounts of data, usually measured in terabytes.

Although they are most well known as the software that powers chatbots, LLMs can also be used to do things such as scanning scientific databases to learn about the structure of medicines.

How Does Bard Work?

Google CEO Sundar Pichai in a blog post, disclosed that Bard draws information from the web to provide fresh and high-quality responses. Like ChatGPT, Google’s Bard will initially only answer text prompts with its written replies.

He further disclosed that the AI chatbot can be an outlet for creativity and a launchpad for curiosity, which will help users to explain different discoveries or get in-depth knowledge about certain information.

The company further added that Bard will also let users do things like “plan a friend’s baby shower”, “compare two Oscar-nominated movies, or “get lunch ideas based on what’s in your fridge”.

When Will Bard be Released?

Google has revealed that Bard will be rolled out in the coming weeks, which will come on a lightweight model version of LaMDA, noting that this will enable it to scale the chatbot to more people as the much smaller model requires significantly less computing power.

Google will open up the conversation technology to trusted testers ahead of making it more widely available to the public.

The tech giant further disclosed that the initial launch of Bard will be in a testing phase, as it seeks to combine its external feedback with its internal testing, noting that this was necessary as chatbots have shown a propensity for negative traits that include everything from bias to powering cyberattacks.

Google has assured users that soon they will see AI-powered features in search that will distill complex information and multiple perspectives in easy-to-digest formats, to enable them to learn more from the web, Investors King understands.

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Fund Raising

Energy Fintech Startup SunFi Raises $2.325 Million Seed to Expand Operations

The seed round was led by Nairobi-based factor (e), SCM Capital asset management, and other participation from investors such as Sovereign capital, Voltron Capital, Ventures platform, and Norrsken impact accelerator.

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Nigerian energy financial technology startup that provides people access to solar energy and payment plans SunFi, has raised $2.324 million in seed funding.

The seed round was led by Nairobi-based factor (e), SCM Capital asset management, and other participation from investors such as Sovereign capital, Voltron Capital, Ventures platform, and Norrsken impact accelerator.

Speaking on the seed fund raised, SunFi CEO Rotimi Thomas revealed that the investment will help the startup expand its operations and enhance its capacity to adjust clients on the best systems to purchase at the most affordable prices.

With this funding, SunFi also hopes to improve its Fintech features over the following 12 to 18 months, convert more than 4,000 consumers, and expand its existing 29-person workforce.

“This investment seeks to aid SunFi to grow its operations and improve upon its capabilities to suggest the best systems with the lowest costs to customers, typical of every rational customer wanting to be offered the best quality in exchange for a small quantity fee or charge associated with acquiring the facility,” he added.

Founded in 2021, with its headquarters in Lagos, SunFi builds energy financial technology that optimizes and matches the right clean energy solution to meet customers’ needs. From payment plans to installation support and maintenance, the startup got its customers covered.

It also offers a buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) payment option for solar providers, which ultimately benefits end consumers. By filling the credit gap, the startup wants to eliminate the need for solar providers to seek credit from financial institutions.

Investors King understands that SunFi does not manufacture or install solar panels, rather it gives small solar businesses expert advice on choosing the best manufacturers in the market.

After it launched a demo version of its app in November 2021, the demand for solar systems surged to over 200%. SunFi has also partnered with Arnergy Solar, the largest solar installer in Nigeria, to expand access to more consumers.

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Technology

Nigerian Government Signs N85b Deal With Zinox to Supply Components For 2023 National Census

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The federal government of Nigeria has signed a deal with Africa’s indigenous IT powerhouse Zinox, to supply tech components for the 2023 National census.

The Nigerian-based tech company was awarded a contract of N85 billion to supply personal digital assistants (PDAs) devices, which will be used for the 2023 National census, scheduled to hold in April.

Investors King understands that Zinox emerged as the preferred technical partner for the exercise, after scaling through a bidding process that involved other local and international competitors.

Speaking on Zinox emerging as the preferred company to supply tech components for the 2023 Census, the company’s Managing Director Mrs. Kelechi Okonta said, “It is a privilege for the federal government to consider us among many other companies in the world. They know we have the capacity. We are deploying all our resources to make sure it is successful”.

As an indigenous IT powerhouse with Global connections, Zinox is the first internationally certified branded computer OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) in West Africa, and also the first OEM in West Africa to receive the WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Labs) certification and the first computer hardware manufacturing and ICT integration company in Nigeria to receive the ISO 9001-2000.

The company was recently rated by International Data Corporation (IDC), USA as the No 1 selling laptop brand amongst local and international computer brands in Nigeria.

In 2010, it delivered the single largest integrated ICT project in Africa in partnership with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC 2010 Data capture).

The firm on Friday, February 3, 2023, supplied the first batch of devices, which is about 100 units of digital devices, which were presented to the National Population of Commission (NPC).

The NPC, therefore, assured Nigerians that the coming April 2023 Census won’t repeat past mistakes of previous Censuses, stating that the commission has meticulously factored out errors and would deliver a hitch-free census.

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