Here's To The New African Dream—$16 Billion Dollars
(Being a Speech by Chude Jideonwo, Managing Partner of RED and Editor-in-Chief of Y!/YNaija.com at the #YTech100 - The 100 Most Innovative People in Nigeria's Tech Eco-system on Friday, 21 February 2014)
Can I have silence in the room? Thank you.
Now, that sound you hear - that distinct, stubborn sound from the distance - is the sound of a million tech entrepreneurs from across the world pivoting, quickly, charply, to mobile messaging. Jehovah God having just blessed the founders of Whatsapp with the 16 billion dollars heard around the world.
Now, I am a media entrepreneur, that's my public identity, but at the core of me, I am first a journalist. I have been a journalist now for 14 years.
In all that time of reporting across TV, print and online, I have witnessed trends and fads, stars blaze and fade, industries rise and rot.
I have seen the rise of local television, I have seen Nollywood take over the world, I have seen the rise of music, I have seen the sway of fashion and its many avant-garde superstars, I have even seen the rise of the magazine - until many of those wide-eyed lovers of gloss realized that only the clinically insane invest in the magazine business. Many have come, and many have gone.
Now, there is technology - an eco-system of overnight stars and determined hype, but, more importantly, a space of envelope-pushing brilliance and mind-blowing innovation. Without a doubt, tech entrepreneurs are the new establishment, the new stars, the new aspiration.
But, there's a difference, you see. As I am hit with new ads from Konga, see new videos from the amazing guys at Ndani TV, read new pieces on Jason Njoku's blog, ponder new tweets from Seyi Taylor, share new pieces from Tech Africa or cite new insights from my favorite tech writer, Bankole Oluwafemi, glancing through activity from the Co-Creation Hub to SPARK, I am convinced beyond measure - this one, no be fluke.
This is no passing fancy, this is not a fad. This one, this one right here, is an earthquake. The foundations of our very existence have been upturned.
As Pando.com's Sarah Lacy wrote last week, "The technology industry has long ceased to be a niche. In fact, it is taking over the world. Startups are taking on old-world industries like transportation, logistics, and manufacturing. Every old world company is rapidly becoming a software company. Netflix is nominated for Emmys and Golden Globes alongside HBO. Tech money is acquiring legacy news organizations or buying up state secrets to kickstart new ones. Power in America is shifting from New York and DC to the tech billionaires of Silicon Valley.
"Tech is without a doubt the economic, social, and political story of our generation."
Indeed, Sarah, indeed.
And that is Y! Is doing this.
We determinedly sit at the intersection of the popular culture; the high priest. We are interesting in capturing the essence of what makes the culture tick, what drives the conversation, what commands the attention of an evolving generation. From what celebrities they are fascinated by and what they think about sex to what public officials are being suspended for speaking the truth about despicable corruption and what brands are investing in their future, Everything from the mundane to the sublime.
Right now, the culture is resolutely focused on technology - on its innovations, on its businesses. on its potential.
Even at RED, we have our hands spread across the space - from YNaija.com with its innovations including #YNaijaLongRead - presently quality journalism on the web, YNaija2015.com - re-defining election reporting for a new generation and TeenYNaija.com to Aiki.ng, our portal to provide access to jobs and opportunities for school-leavers and young people.
Now, you guys - developers, entrepreneurs, stoytellers, funders, designers - you guys are the standard bearers for this new reality. You, the #YTech100, are proof, alive, that anything is possible.
So we are here to honour you, and to honour the possibilities. To encourage you to build empires, but also to build the eco-system. We are here to facilitate connections and collaborations. To say well done, and then to say not enough. Yes, we should be proud of where we are - but the real work lies ahead.
The possibilities are endless, much of it untapped. It is yet morning on creation's day.
I thank Ndani TV for giving life to this important vision, I thank the incredibly hard working guys at #TeamRED for making this happen, and I thank you all - our guests - for coming to today's historic event.
Here's to the new African dream: 16. billion. dollars.
About Chude Jideonwo
Named by Forbes International as one of Africa's 30 “best entrepreneurs” under 30, Chude Jideonwo's career is centred around the media – media content, media and communication, and media for development. The editor-in-chief of Y!/YNaija.com and director of The Future Awards Africa; in 2010, he founded EnoughisEnough Nigeria, which has become the country's foremost good governance group for young Nigerians. A lawyer and award-winning journalist, he has a Master's Degree in Media and Communication from the Pan-African University. He is Managing Partner of RED, and sits on the boards of the Oando Foundation and Micosoft4Afrika.
About Red Media Africa
Red Communication is a PR & Communication firm under the parent company, RED. An innovative media group focused on Africa, RED's vision is to excite and empower an evolving generation through the media's limitless possibilities. Built across tools and platforms, its Communication Division holds Red Communication, Red Marketing and Small & Medium, and YouthConnect; and its Content Division holds the Y! brands, including Y! TV, Y! Magazine, YNaija.com, Teen Y!, Y! 2015, the Y! Tech 100 and the Y! Annual Black Ball/Y! 100 Most Influential List. It also anchors a development firm, The Future Project Africa, which co-presents Africa's leading youth platform, The Future Awards Africa, and other projects including the Nigeria Symposium for Young & Emerging Leaders and The Future Enterprise Support Scheme.
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