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Tech Layoffs: Zoom to Trim Workforce by 15% as it Navigates Economic Downturn



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American communications technology company Zoom has announced plans to trim workforce by 15% which is about 1,300 employees as it navigates the current economic downturn.

The company’s CEO Eric Yuan revealed this via a message on the company’s website, stating that the layoffs were necessary as the company looks for ways to stay afloat, owing to the fact that the world has transitioned to live post-pandemic.

He wrote,

“Over the past few years, Zoom has become an indispensable source of connection for businesses and individuals as well as a globally recognized brand. Whether you have been at Zoom since the beginning or joined us more recently, you’ve played an important role in our evolution, and that makes today’s announcement particularly difficult.

“We have made the tough but necessary decision to reduce our team by approximately 15% and say goodbye to around 1,3000 hardworking talented colleagues. I know this is a difficult message to hear, and certainly not one I ever wanted to deliver”.

The CEO further acknowledged that he is accountable for the mistakes, hence he wants to show accountability not just in words but in actions. To that end, he announced that he will reduce his salary for the coming fiscal year by 98% and also forgo his FY23 corporate Bonus.

Also, members of his executive leadership team will reduce their base salaries by 20% for the coming Fiscal year, while also forfeiting their FY23 corporate Bonuses.

Zoom laid-off employees will be supported with the following; Up to 16 weeks salary and healthcare coverage, payment of earned FY23 annual bonus based on company performance, outplacement services that include one on one coaching, workshops, RSU, and stock option vesting for 6 months for its employees and through August 9, 2022, for non-U.S employees, networking groups and more.

Investors king understands that during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Zoom witnessed a massive usage of its platform because most firms had to resort to the remote way of work. This saw the company hire a lot of team members to support the quick rise of users on the platform and their evolving needs.

As the world transitions to life post-pandemic, which has seen many employers/employees return to the workplace, Zoom has witnessed a low usage compared to the pandemic era, hence the need for the company to trim its workforce.

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Opay And Palmpay Ranked Top as Most Downloaded Fintech Apps Amid Naira Shortage



Opay halts business units

A new report has shown that Chinese-owned fintech apps Opay and Palmpay are the most downloaded digital banks in Nigeria in 2023, thanks to the cash crunch and failure of traditional banks.

In the report compiled by Similar Web, a web analytics company, both apps became the main alternative to bank apps for money transfers and bill payments during the cash crunch. These apps were reported to be mostly used by vendors and businesses to send and receive money due to the seamless transaction it offers to users.

A large percentage of users disclosed that by using these Fintechs platforms, they do not have to worry about network issues as both apps are always available 24/7. Opay and Palmpay have been lauded for offering relief to Nigerians, especially at a time of unprecedented transaction failure. 

It is interesting to note that both Fintechs are licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), insured by the NDIC, and trusted by millions of users. Last week, Opay expressed appreciation to millions of users for increased usage of the platform in the last three months. The payment and financial service company disclosed that its customer base crossed over 30 million registered app users, as well as 500,000 agents and 100,000 merchants.

Investors King understands that the naira redesign by the CBN which led to cash shortage in the country, prompted a huge percentage of the Nigerian population to resort to the use of mobile bank apps for transfers. Unfortunately, the increased reliance on banking apps and USSD platforms negatively impacted bank performance, and put a strain on the already unsteady infrastructure of digital banking. This saw bank transfers often take longer than usual and failed transactions take up to five days or more to be resolved. 

This prompted customers who did not hesitate to resort to the use of Fintechs which they revealed was more reliable than bank apps. Meanwhile, the transaction glitches experienced by bank customers have no doubt benefitted several fintech platforms, which had tough times wooing customers before the recent cash crunch that saw them gain a significant amount of users.

These platforms have been able to wrap themselves around the fabric of society and have been massively adopted as reliable alternatives to the epileptic services rendered by conventional banks.

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Twitter to Permit Only Verified Accounts in For You Recommendations



Twitter Shop Module- Investors King

Starting from April 15th, only verified Twitter accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations.

This was disclosed by Twitter’s CEO Elon Musk on his Twitter handle, which according to him is the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over the platform.

Musk wrote on Twitter;

“Starting April 15th, only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations. This is the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle. Voting in polls will require verification for the same reason. That said, it’s okay to give verified bot accounts if they follow terms of service & don’t impersonate a human”.

Fake or spam accounts otherwise known as bot accounts are visible on Twitter which are usually automated and not run by human users. They often make use of the reply function or direct messages to send adverts or scams to users or represent attempts to influence public discourse by tweeting something controversial.

Other fake accounts exist purely to boost the metrics of individual users, who can buy followers, likes, and retweets from bot sellers who control thousands or millions of fake accounts. Because they also inflate Twitter’s daily user numbers, they pose a threat to the company’s advertising revenue.

It would be recalled that before Musk acquired Twitter, he wanted to opt out of the $ 44 billion deal after he queried Twitter’s claim in SEC filings that a small proportion of its users were fake or spam. Musk further suggested that he could seek to pay a lower price for Twitter because of the fake accounts issue. However, after a relatively short court drama, Musk agreed to purchase the platform for the initial offer and has so far devised different means to address the bot issue on the platform.

Before the recent strategy to reduce bots by permitting only verified accounts in For You Recommendations, Musk had earlier rolled out a paid verification feature that will charge $8 per month to verify users’ accounts, which he claimed that the plan would solve the platform’s issues with bots and trolls while creating a new revenue stream for the company.

Musk believes that paid verification increases the costs of making bots by 10,000 percent and makes it easier to identify them. Meanwhile, the paid verification policy raised concerns about misinformation on the platform, as virtually anyone willing to pay the price could attempt to impersonate a public figure under the guise of a verification mark. However, in a bid to prevent this, Twitter has taken a step further by reviewing Twitter Blue accounts before granting them verification.

Moving forward, Investors King understands that Musk has also recently disclosed that only Verified accounts will be able to take part in polls on the platform. This is coming after a Twitter user suggested that Blue subscribers should be the only ones that can vote in policy-related polls.

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Experts in Nigeria Telco Industry Expresses Concerns Over Low Foreign Capital Inflow



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The decline in Foreign capital inflow into the Nigerian telecommunications sector has heightened experts’ concern as the nation looks to deepen its broadband penetration.

In 2019, Nigeria’s telecommunications sector welcomed $942.8 million (N358.26 billion) in capital inflow. This amount declined by $525.4 million to $417. 5 million in 2020 while in 2021, the foreign direct investment into the sector was flat at $417.5 million, the same as in 2020.

In 2022, Nigeria’s economy recorded a boost in foreign direct investment to the tune of N23.982 billion ($57.79 million) in Q1 of 2022. Data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics disclosed that the figure represents a 2.6 percent increase when compared to the same period last year.

Speaking on some of the reasons for low foreign capital inflow in Nigeria’s telecommunications industry, the President of the Association of Telecommunications Company of Nigeria (ATCON) and Chief Executive Officer of Medallion Communication Limited Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani disclosed that Nigeria’s unfriendly foreign exchange is a limiting factor that has discouraged foreign investors. 

He added that foreign investors have bemoaned the contradictory regulations coming from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which they claim is discouraging them from making investments in Nigeria.

In his words, “It has been estimated that the country would require $100 billion in investments in the next 10 years to bridge the existing infrastructure gap in the telecom sector, but where is the money going to come from?

“The exchange rate situation in Nigeria is of serious concern for Foreign investors, they are not sure of what the situation would be by the time they want to repatriate their returns. Their returns on investments could be halved due to the fluctuations in the exchange rate. If we want to see investors, we have to first address the foreign exchange situation.”

Meanwhile the 5G network rollout in the country, was said to have reportedly increased foreign investments in the telecommunication sector. According to telecom experts, 5G is expected to headline network investment and drive foreign investment into the sector.

Investors King understands that MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa which are considered the big players in the industry had their investments in the sector increase to N613.13 billion in 2022. While MTN spent a total of N504.33 billion on the network rollout, Airtel’s investment hit N108.79 billion ($236m) for the same purpose.

The 5G network is projected to contribute $2.2 trillion to the global economy by 2034, according to a 2020 GSMA Intelligence report, titled: ‘The Mobile Economy’.

Nigeria reportedly has one of the largest telecommunications markets in Africa, supported by the second largest economy on the continent after South Africa. In recent years, the telecom sector has benefitted from supportive regulatory measures aimed at improving competition and developing infrastructure. This has helped boost the country’s broadband sector, which remains strongly focussed on mobile connectivity.

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