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When tech companies become media companies

When tech companies become media companies
By get.Africa Weekly • Issue #77 • View online
That’s “good morning” in Tiv
I remember when I was appointed online editor at the NET, a Nigerian media company.
At the time, I had a full-time job at another company, a tech company. And I remember being so worried about how my media work would be perceived, that when one of my colleagues approached me after seeing the announcement in a newspaper, I almost denied my own picture and government name.  
That was ten odd years ago, a lot has changed since then. Tech and media have converged to the point where a fintech company like Paystack is now hiring managing editors for its content division. 
Two is a crowd?
There’s a must-read piece by David I. Adeleke on why Paystack’s move is both genius and dangerous.  
The genius is in using content marketing to drive inbound sales, and in the audience benefiting from insights directly from the operator; the horse’s mouth, if you will.
As for the danger, the article highlights three things: 
  1. Attention, talent, and content are all zero-sum games: Tech companies and media companies are dipping into the same pool for attention, talent, and content, which are all finite resources.
  2. Direct competition: As a result, tech companies are going head-to-head with media companies, one hypothetical example used was Paystack vs. TechCabal.
  3. Ethical challenge: If media companies lose the competition, tech companies could become the single source of truth for the tech ecosystem.
My 2 cents kobos
It might be easier to set up a media company today than it was to set up a newspaper company, but it’s still a very tall order. It’s even taller for companies with completely different business models.
Unlike a media company where content can be the end goal, a tech company like Paystack almost always uses content as a means to an end. That end is usually either of two things:
  1. Mind share: Remaining top-of-mind for their customers and potential customers, 
  2. Wallet share: Eventually converting that attention into sales and revenue.
Both objectives take significant amounts of time and investment before you start to see results — podcasts, newsletters, and YouTube channels don’t grow audiences overnight. This time and investment will form a moat and make companies like Paystack the exception and not the rule. 
One illustration of this is what happened with Nigerian banks. In 2015, Adeleke wrote another must-read piece on how the banks were delving into content marketing. But in hindsight, how many of them were able to keep up?
That’s the reason why what I foresee is tech companies with content marketing ambitions taking one of three shortcuts:
The first is acquisitions. Interestingly, should one of them look to buy the aforementioned TechCabal, Tomiwa Aladekomo, CEO of its parent company, isn’t indisposed to selling:
“Every time we talk to investors, they ask, what’s the exit plan? Yes, there will be acquisitions in the future.”
But this is in the long-term. 
In the short term, the second trend I expect is for founders with significant followings to become media personalities.
The third trend is tech companies hiring micro-influencers, who are budding one-man or one-woman media companies, to work as full-time staff.
Where I do unequivocally agree with the article, however, is on ethics.
TechCabal released an expose on GTBank’s mobile app division this past week, where ex-staff complained about working conditions. 
Could a story like this ever come out on GTBank’s NdaniTV?
We both know the answer to that.

get.Africa is a weekly roundup of the most important stories in African tech. To support, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our YouTube channel, share this issue or send us an email. You can also check our archives.
Credit: Absolut Vision
Credit: Absolut Vision
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