MENA’s Digital News, Week #25

A weekly round up of the top headlines from the digital sector in MENA, covering startups, corporate and the public sector.

Investments & Acquisitions

Gulivery, Somali mobile meals and groceries delivery, add e-hailing service http://bit.ly/2Haf38a 

Tarjama, UAE-based language service provider, raised $5M in a Series A round led by Anova Investments to develop its Ureed platform, an online marketplace focusing on translation and content services http://bit.ly/2XOGXvR 

Dsquares, Cairo-based B2B loyalty solutions provider, raises (undisclosed amount) investment from Algebra and Ezdehar http://bit.ly/2SWdX1n 

Mrsool, Saudi On-Demand Delivery Service, Completes A “Multimillion-Dollar” Series A Funding Led by Raed Ventures and STV http://bit.ly/2EZBPwm

VentureSouq invests in Hello Verify, India-based online background check platform http://bit.ly/2T1x3Dd

Sector News

Jumia files for IPO on the New York Stock Exchange https://tcrn.ch/2T1Oe7J

Network International, Dubai’s payment network, files for IPO in London at a valuation of ~$3B https://bloom.bg/2HxRXYB and appoints the deputy chairman of WorldPay to lead the IPO https://on.ft.com/2VYhG0k

Media

Nabd, Regional Personalized News App, Launches Live Streaming Service http://bit.ly/2tXxHb3 

Weyyak, Zee Entertainment’s first Arabic Video on Demand platform in MENA partnered with Samsung to host exclusive content offerings via their Smartpack http://bit.ly/2CktEde

eCommerce

Foodonclick is now officially Talabat http://bit.ly/2F0lJ6P

Jollychic signs MoU with SAGIA to “bolster Saudi Arabia’s digital economy”. details of how and when are not clear from the release http://bit.ly/2NVU1Lp

Fintech

FundedByMe Granted License to Operate Crowdfunding Platform in UAE http://bit.ly/2CmZpCz

Emaar will be engaging in crypto but not in real-estate purchasing (as previous rumors claim). Emaar is employing Swiss-based, Lykke AG (ETH based), to develop a community token that can be used across Emaar’s properties and services to drive customer services, loyalty and referrals. http://bit.ly/2O2QJpv

DIFC launches $10M fintech fund and has appointed both Wamda Capital and Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) to manage it http://bit.ly/2F4dAOC 

Misc

Rotana, hotel management company, will pilot a direct distribution agreement with Airbnb http://bit.ly/2XX1yyb

VIVA Bahrain And Etisalat Sign Agreement On SmartHub Data Centre In The Middle East http://bit.ly/2T08tTu 

Further Readings

Al Mashreq Bank announces plans to close 50% of it’s branches as part of it’s digitization strategy https://reut.rs/2XSYqDf

DXB remains world’s busiest airport in 2018, handling 88.9M international passengers in 2018 http://bit.ly/2HxB549

Business Models #LookingEast to China

A couple of weeks ago Facebook announced a shift towards “privacy” that raised a few eyebrows across the industry. Not just because Facebook can’t decide what it wants to be, but also because Facebook makes money from data, all our data, for advertising (and beyond).

However I had just listened to Brian McCullough‘s Techmeme podcast episode with Connie Chan, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, about her latest article: “Outgrowing Advertising: Multimodal Business Models as a Product Strategy

Connie confirms the vulnerability of Facebook and Google’s most lucrative business models which is vitally dependent on advertising. What happens when laws like the GDPR hit and governments start to take notice and fight back against the data abuse and “friendly-fraud”

The reason I decided to talk about this, it Careem’s latest interview on Forbes that declares it’s vision to

“build more businesses on top of it (infrastructure). We will build some verticals ourselves, but we are also building a framework upon which others can build upon our platform”

While Careem is not an advertising business it was for a long time dependent on one highly-competitive revenue stream: ride-hailing. It have recently launched it’s food delivery “Careem Now”, and more importantly Careem Pay, the first (and only) truly regional P2P payment method in MENA.

What is everyone modeling around: WeChat; the one app that’s killing apple’s ability to penetrate china. An app that the Chinese live by.

Facebook failed in its countless attempts to enter China, is this a fresh attempt?

Something to think about for the weekend.


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