Twitter Acquires Chroma Labs, the Team Behind Stories Editing App ‘Chroma Stories’ | Social Media Today

We could soon have a whole new range of visual tools for Twitter

The company has this week announced its acquisition of Chroma Labs, the team behind the Chroma Stories app, which provides a range of stylistic frames and filter options for your Stories content.

As per Chroma Labs:

“When we founded Chroma Labs in 2018, we set out to build a company to inspire creativity and help people tell their visual stories. During the past year, we’ve enabled creators and businesses around the world to create millions of stories with the Chroma Stories app. We’re proud of this work, and look forward to continuing our mission at a larger scale – with one of the most important services in the world.”

To be clear, Chroma Stories is not a platform in itself, but a supplementary app which enables users to create better-looking Stories that they can then post to Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. 

The company was founded by former Instagram product lead John Barnett, who, among other projects, invented Instagram’s popular ‘Boomerang’ video looping tool. That inside knowledge has enabled Chroma to build highly effective visual additions and features, which are perfectly aligned with rising Stories use.

So what will Twitter be looking to do with the app?

As noted by Twitter product lead Kayvon Beykpour:

Thrilled to welcome the amazing @Chroma_Labs team including @picturejohn, @alexli, @joshuacharris to @Twitter.

They’ll join our product, design, and eng teams working to give people more creative ways to express themselves on Twitter ????????

— Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvz)

What ‘more creative ways to express themselves’ means, exactly, is anyone’s guess, but it could mean that Twitter is looking at its own variation of Stories, or that it will be adding more visual options to enhance your tweet presentation in the near future.

With respect to Twitter Stories, that could definitely be a possibility. Twitter is now one of the only platforms without a Stories option, and with its renewed focus on context, and maximizing user engagement, you would think that a Twitter Stories tool, if done right, could hold significant appeal.

Twitter’s already the home for real-time updates, and a Stories feed could add to this – while it could also provide what Twitter’s ‘Moments’ tool was never quite able to, albeit in a different way.

Moments was Twitter’s mobile-focused, vertically presented, quick catch-up tool, which Twitter originally pitched as “the best of what’s happening on Twitter in an instant”.

These days, Twitter’s bigger push is on increasing personal relevance – so what if, instead of “the best of what’s happening” across all of Twitter, you got a Stories feed instead, which would essentially be a feed of what’s happening among the people and profiles that you’ve chosen to follow.

Twitter could even look to add the tab into the bottom function bar, replacing where Moments once was. Given the popularity of Stories on other platforms, that could work.

It’s not definitively where Twitter is headed, but it makes sense that Twitter would at least look at its options on this front.

Outside of this, Twitter could be looking to simply improve on its current – somewhat limited – visual options. 

As an example, last September, Twitter provided users with the capacity to rearrange their attached tweet images via a simple drag and drop process.

It’s all about the details. Now you can rearrange your photos while writing a Tweet. pic.twitter.com/mllwmPb6dx

— Twitter (@Twitter)

You couldn’t do this before. So, on Snapchat, for comparison, you can take a photo of your face, cut out a section of it, re-paste it a million times over into the frame and create a unique collage, which you can then add filters to, morph into something different via AR tools, and upload in different formats, all within the app. In Twitter, you can now re-arrange images.

Yeah, it probably does need an upgrade on this front.

Either way, with the Chroma crew joining Twitter’s Conversations division, you can expect some significant visual enhancements for your tweets, which could be a major change for the app.

It’ll take some time, but it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with. 

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How to Promote a Flash Sale on Facebook and Instagram : Social Media Examiner

Do you run flash sales? Wondering how to promote your flash sale on social media?

In this article, you’ll discover how to promote short-term sales with organic posts and paid ads on Instagram and Facebook.

Why You Need a Different Approach for Promoting a Flash Sale

Everyone loves a flash sale. Limited-time offers and short-term sales can be effective ways to inject revenue into your online store, especially around prominent days in the marketing calendar.

Most flash sales last for 24 hours or less; therefore, the campaigns promoting them are also short-lived. Maximizing performance within such narrow timeframes requires a different campaign management approach than for longer campaigns.

Here’s how you can maximize your efforts to drive your campaigns further and make your ad spend work harder.

#1: Create a Facebook Event for Your Flash Sale

Creating a Facebook event for your flash sale allows you not only to add all of the important details about the event but also create organic reach by customers marking they’re “attending” or “interested.”

Additionally, Facebook’s algorithm is likely to show your event to people who might be interested as indicated by their social activity, which extends your reach even further.

More importantly, people who mark themselves as attending or interested will receive a notification about content or updates to the event and a reminder when the event is due to start.

Discover the best social media marketing strategies from the world’s top experts! Don’t miss this event!
SALE ENDS
January 7th!

#2: Run a Pre-Launch Reach Campaign With Ads on Instagram and Facebook

Running a promotion announcing your flash sale ensures potential customers will see it. Using paid ads on Facebook and Instagram is vital in today’s pay-to-play market. You’ll not only increase exposure and build conversation about your upcoming sale but also prime your Facebook pixel.

Priming your pixel means you’re warming up Facebook. If you build engagement and extend your reach before you launch your flash sale, Facebook will know exactly who’s ready to buy because of their activity and engagement in the run-up. You’ll be building a warm audience you can retarget (as discussed a little later).

In a nutshell, this initial priming—thanks to the pixel—will put your product in front of people who are already interested in the sale. With no extra cost to you, this will reduce CPA (cost per acquisition) and increase your ROAS (return on ad spend). This is a smart application of ad technology.

Here’s an example of an announcement ad for a flash sale:

Normally, when setting up Facebook ads for eCommerce, you would choose the Conversions objective because it’s likely to achieve the highest ROAS. It’s also training your pixel to go after the customer who’ll buy from you. In the process, it also allows Facebook to learn about your ideal customer.

This is great for people who are in the buying phase. When you run conversion ads, you’re effectively removing a piece of the pie; you’re going after quick wins with people who buy. But with flash sales, customers may look a little bit different. For instance, they may have thought about buying from you but were waiting for a sale, or they needed an added incentive to get them to cross the finish line.

When you’re promoting the flash sale in the run-up, you want to set up a Reach campaign. This will let you reach a larger audience and therefore more prospects.

To create this campaign, simply select Reach as your campaign objective. Target your ad to your following or a cold audience that may have similar product interests. To illustrate, if you own a children’s clothing store, you can target people who are parents or who have an interest in a similar brand.

#3: Count Down to the Sale With Organic Posts on Facebook and Instagram

About 5–7 days before your flash sale, begin sharing daily countdown posts on Facebook and Instagram. Plan your posts a few weeks in advance to give yourself time to think about how you’ll drive organic engagement. It’s a good idea to schedule your posts to avoid missing a day.

Create 5–7 posts that clearly call out your sale. Be sure to include the date and how many days there are to go, as in the example below:

When creating these posts, consider using engagement hooks such as “tag a friend who NEEDS to know about this sale,” or “Comment below with what you’re thinking of buying.” These are quick and easy ways to build your social engagement and organic reach. More importantly, you’re building a custom audience of people who have recently engaged with your page, which you can then retarget via your ad campaign on the day of your sale.

In addition to these feed posts, both Facebook stories and Instagram stories can provide more organic exposure. Alongside your countdown posts, share 2–3 daily story posts of your products. Include the flash sale reminder, date, and savings on featured products. Rather than simply sharing the sale discount, you’re contextualizing the discount on real products, helping customers visualize their savings.

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Sale ends Tuesday, January 7th, 2020.

Another way to use the Stories features to promote your flash sale is to share live content of yourself talking about your brand. This can work if you’re the face of your brand, or as a way to introduce yourself as the face behind the brand. You could also ask your employees to share their excitement about your sale.

Describe to your audience how this is your biggest sale yet, and how you’re excited to offer customers this opportunity to buy the products they’ve had their eye on for a while. You’ll be generating buzz about your sale and connecting with your customers. Giving a sneak peek into who you are and why you’re doing this is a fantastic way to build a relationship with audience members.

#4: Run Instagram and Facebook Ads via a Conversions Campaign on the Day of Your Flash Sale

When you’re ready to go live with your flash sale, I recommend setting it up as a Conversions campaign. By running a Conversions campaign, you’re telling Facebook you want conversions. Don’t run your campaign for adds to carts, landing page views, engagement, and so on, because this is what Facebook will deliver.

Set Your Budget

For campaigns that run for less than 24 hours, I recommend using a lifetime budget for the best results. To do this, toggle Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) on and select Lifetime Budget from the drop-down menu.

Alternatively, you can edit this in the Budget & Schedule section at the ad set level.

Lifetime Budget is the most sensible setting. If you were to use a daily budget for a 6-hour campaign, Facebook wouldn’t spend more than 25% (6 ÷ 24) of the budget you specified so you’d have to take that into account.

More importantly, Facebook’s pacing algorithm (which optimizes delivery to get the best results available for your budget) isn’t designed to optimize daily budgets for shorter periods.

Target Ads to Your Warm Audiences

Once you’ve set up your campaign, you can create a number of ad sets to test your audience success rate and measure which audience targeting performed best.

Because you’ve been running your flash sale warm-up campaign, you can now set up several ad sets targeting different audiences. These should include:

If you set up your naming conventions correctly (as in the example below), you should instantly be able to see which ad set is performing best.

Choose Accelerated Delivery

Keep in mind that Facebook’s pacing algorithm can take some time to calibrate itself in the beginning. This clearly isn’t ideal if you want your campaign to start with a bang. In this case, use Accelerated Delivery. Selecting this option will disable the pacing algorithm altogether and enter you into as many auctions as possible.

Be careful, though; while this improves delivery and helps to gather data, it can also drive up costs. It might even spend your entire budget before the campaign is over.

You should always have a plan for monitoring results and reacting appropriately in various scenarios.

Some businesses choose to announce flash sales on the day of the sale. On its face, this approach seems to make sense. However, announcing the sale at least 1 week before will give you sufficient time to generate buzz around the offering.

Start by creating an event on Facebook and encouraging your audience to like, share, and comment. Also post organic content through a series of countdown posts and share Facebook and Instagram stories talking about what will be offered in the flash sale and emphasizing that stock levels are limited.

You’ll then want to run a pre-launch ad to promote your flash sale to your following or a cold audience that may have similar product interests.

Finally, on the day of the launch, run an ad for the duration of your flash sale using the optimization techniques discussed above.

Remember that your pre-launch efforts will frame your flash sale launch. If you nail the pre-launch, you’ll have your customers primed and ready for your sale. This will dramatically increase your conversion rate and you’ll see a much higher success rate.

Discover the latest tactics and master social media marketing in 2020! Don’t miss this event!
SALE ENDS
January 7th!

What do you think? Will you follow this plan to promote your next flash sale on Facebook and Instagram? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Nollywood: Audition for pro-NYSC scheme movie debuts in FCT | P.M. News

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A cross section of participants at the audition for new movie “A Call to Service” in Abuja.

Audition for ‘ A call to Service’, an advocacy movie geared towards promoting core values, Acts and Bye-Laws of the National Youth Service Corps(NYSC), on Saturday, holds in the Federal Capital Territory(FCT).

The youths, including and corps members, seeking acting opportunities, in large number, took part in the audition for the new movie, which held at the Bolingo Hotels.

Mr Jairuspaul Osazuwa, the scriptwriter and producer of the film, said that “A Call to Service” is conceived to promote, tribal tolerance, national peace and unity, which the NYSC scheme champions, NAN reports.

He explained that the audition was to discover corps members that had potential and passion for acting in line with the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development ( SAED ) initiative of the scheme.

He noted that Nigeria as a nation has faced a lot of challenges in recent times, and it was imperative to promote things and initiatives that bind citizens inrespective of tribal and religious divides.

“This is the first time a project of this nature and magnitude will be carried out in the history of the NYSC scheme.

“We are glad is it happening now under the Leadership of Brig-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, who is the executive producer of the Film “A Call To Service”.

“The initiative is birthed by the Director-General of the NYSC and it is aimed at projecting the scheme and spread the message of peaceful co-existence and selfless service to fatherland.

“The film will also promote the Acts and Bye-Laws of the scheme by putting the book on screen for effective communication to all stakeholders,” he said.

Osazuwa explained that the star-studded film will feature upcoming and seasoned actors drawn from across the country, including Nollywood veterans Pete Edochie, Ali Nuhu, Imeh Bishop Omoh,( Okon ) Steve Ebor and Bruno Iwuoha.

He disclosed further that Jairuspaul Osazuwa and the D-G of the NYSC will also feature among the cast of ‘A Call to Service.”

According to him, the film will be shot in locations in FCT, Kano and Delta , among others.

NAN reports that NYSC was created on 22 May 1973 , based on decree No. 24 as an avenue for the reconciliation, reconstruction, and rebuilding of the nation after the civil war.

It was created “with a view to encourage and develop common ties among the youth of Nigeria as well as promote national unity.

Under the scheme, young university graduates under the age of 30 are expected to serve their fatherland for one year, known as national service year.

They are posted to states other than their state of origin where they are expected to mix with people from different ethnic groups and learn the culture of the indigenes in the location they are posted to.

This action is aimed at bringing about unity in the country and help the youth appreciate other ethnic groups.

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Jacob Stallings grows with 2019 starting reps | Pittsburgh Pirates

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PITTSBURGH — The Pirates’ next general manager is going to have to figure out the club’s immediate future and long-term plan behind the plate. Francisco Cervelli is gone. Elias Díaz, once a well-regarded prospect, followed up an encouraging 2018 campaign with a stunningly poor season. There isn’t a catcher among the club’s Top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.

It’s entirely possible that Pittsburgh’s next starting catcher isn’t currently on the roster. But part of the solution might have emerged amid the disappointment of this past season.

Jacob Stallings spent the past four years as the Pirates’ third or fourth option at catcher, which means he’s familiar with the road between Pittsburgh and Triple-A Indianapolis. But this season, Cervelli’s concussion and Díaz’s struggles opened the door for Stallings to receive more regular playing time.

Stallings’ offensive performance was fine, especially compared to the Pirates’ other catchers. But the 29-year-old earned the club’s trust with his diligent preparation and his performance behind the plate. By the end of the year, most of Pittsburgh’s starting pitchers had asked to work with Stallings.

Where that leaves Stallings going forward is anybody’s guess. Maybe a new GM will view him as a short-term starting option for a team focused on the future or perhaps as a spiritual successor to Chris Stewart: a quality, defensive-minded backup on a potential contender.

Before looking forward, though, let’s review Stallings’ season.

What went right?
His defensive work, primarily. It’s tough to quantify everything about catchers’ defense, but Stallings graded out well in the areas we can measure and those in which we depend upon the word of his teammates.

Stallings has long been praised by pitchers for his preparation and game-calling, and that showed this year. By late May, Chris Archer worked exclusively with Stallings. Joe Musgrove soon followed suit. Most of Trevor Williams’ and Mitch Keller’s starts down the stretch came with Stallings behind the plate.

Joe Musgrove, on working with Jacob Stallings tonight: “Stalls was spot-on with everything. It makes my job a lot easier when I trust my catcher to call the game. It’s almost like he’s the brains and I’m the muscle. You just tell me where to throw it, and I’ll throw it there.”

— Adam Berry (@adamdberry)

Catcher ERA is a flawed statistic in some regards, but it can paint part of the picture here. Consider how Pirates pitchers performed when throwing to Stallings (4.47 ERA), how similar that was to their work with the veteran Cervelli (4.42) and how different it was with Díaz behind the plate (5.95).

There are more advanced metrics to consider, too.

Stallings ranked eighth among all Major League catchers in adjusted Fielding Runs Above Average, according to Baseball Prospectus, and 11th in Framing Runs. The latter was a focal point for Stallings this season, as he committed himself to the skill of framing pitches with former bench coach Tom Prince and bullpen catcher Jordan Comadena.

Stallings did all the necessary drill work, catching weighted balls and properly positioning his body behind the plate and his glove around the strike zone. He watched video of elite pitch-framers and noticed how well they were able to keep their gloves in the zone, rather than letting the ball move them, so he strengthened his body in the weight room.

“It’s been a continual growth process. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better as the year’s gone on,” Stallings said in late September. “It’s been more this year than ever in the past.”

What went wrong?
This is not a knock on Stallings, but the answer is probably his games played total (71) and the fact that he had more plate appearances (210) than Cervelli.

Stallings started 53 games for the Pirates this year, which is not how you draw it up for your third catcher leaving Spring Training. Díaz started 75 games behind the plate despite having a brutal year overall, and Cervelli made 32 starts before he was sidelined and later picked up by the Braves.

Offensively, Stallings was more or less who he’s always been. The 29-year-old batted .262 with a .325 on-base percentage and a .382 slugging percentage. The good news is he tapped into a little more power to hit six home runs, as many as he’s ever hit in a professional season. He credited hitting coach Rick Eckstein for that improvement.

“Working with him, learning about my body and my swing,” Stallings said. “Pulling the ball in the air with backspin was something I struggled with. I used to always just topspin the ball because I wasn’t putting myself in a good position to hit. I really dove into that. It’s something that I will always struggle with because I’m so big and lanky with a lot of moving parts, but body position to hit has been the biggest change for me this year.

“I feel like I have a good swing. I just don’t put myself in position to hit all the time. So we worked a lot on that, and it’s something we always have to work on. Putting myself in a more consistent position to hit has helped a lot.”

Best moment
How about June 27, when Stallings had three hits and a homer and caught a shutout against the eventual American League champion Astros in a 10-0 Pirates win at Minute Maid Park?

Or how about the Pirates’ September series in San Francisco? Stallings hit two of his six homers in a historically pitcher-friendly ballpark while catching a pair of victories.

2020 outlook
Stallings is under club control, so he should be back in some role. But will the next management group take another shot on the upside Díaz showed in 2018?

There are plenty of free agents available, and the Pirates picked up recent contributors like Cervelli and Stewart through smart trades. How would that decision or another acquisition affect Stallings? Stay tuned.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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Pastor Left In The Pool Of His Blood, Church Members Brutally Beaten By Hindu Extremists, Recovering In ICU, Need Prayers

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Imagine this. You are a tender five years old, and out of the blue, your daddy disappears. You don’t know why or how, but suddenly he’s gone and all you now know and experience is your terrified mom.

She tries to explain to you he has been killed. You’re not too sure what that means, but from the way she’s acting, it must be horrible.

A day or so later, your mom grabs you and flees the only home you’ve known. Sometimes she carries you, sometimes you have to run alongside her, but all you know is something really scary is happening and you better keep running.

She seems to hear ‘bad guys’ behind you somewhere … she looks like it at least … and just tries to run faster. She makes more turns and twists along the way, and your little legs are about ready to give out.

Finally, you get to the river—you’ve glimpsed it a few times before—and she stops by a house somebody is building there. It’s only partly ‘there’, and nobody is around, so she takes you inside.

Then she leaves. You watch her from an opening in the wall … probably where they will put glass for a window someday … and see her jump from the high bank into the river! Why didn’t she tell you she was going for a swim?

And that’s the last time you see her.

Such was how life began for young Kumar of northern India. He remembers little about life with his parents, except that they did often visit a Hindu temple and worship the many idols there.

The small boy wasn’t alone in the unfinished building long. A well-off fellow—perhaps the man having the place built—found him sobbing there shortly after his mother vanished, and took the youngster home with him.

Unfortunately, the rich man’s motives were hardly compassionate. He set his ‘new acquisition’ to work almost immediately, treating him as a household slave.

After several years of unimaginable hardship, little Kumar, now 8, fled the second home he’d ever known, again in fear.

Not too long afterwards (we’re not sure exactly how long) kindly Pastor Mohan of Bibles for Mideast found the youngster begging for food in the streets. He approached the dishevelled child and gently inquired about his past. The more he discovered, the more his heart went out to the unfortunate boy. He invited Kumar home with him, and since the little fellow seemed to understand this man was safe and good, he went along.

Soon, he became an integral part of the family; a young brother to Pastor Mohan’s other children. He went to school, studied well, and grew to have a strong faith in Jesus.

On graduating high school, he went off to Bible College and at 25, was ordained a pastor of the ALG (Assembly of Loving God, umbrella for Bibles for Mideast churches). He married a few years later.

Now with three young children of his own, Kumar’s main ministry has been among Hindus in northern India. Due to the increasing, and increasingly violent persecution of Christians by Hindu nationalists in India, his young church must of course meet secretly.

He had been warned many times to stop his work but continued tirelessly and with even increasing success. His church had grown to 40 faithful believers when last Sunday, just as their worship service drew to a close, angry militants stormed the believer’s home they met in.

They pummelled Pastor Kumar with iron pipes until he lay bloodied and unconscious. They set on other church members as well, seriously injuring several.

Pastor Kumar and three other church members were finally was taken to hospital, all in critical condition. For 48 hours, the pastor remained in acute care and doctors had scant hope for his survival.

On hearing of the attack, Pastor Paul and Pastor Peter Haneef, along with several other Bibles for Mideast leaders, left immediately for the long train trip to northern India and held three days of prayer and fasting in the home of a church member. By the second day, Pastor Kumar opened his eyes and by the third, he could speak again. Doctors were able to pronounce him out of serious danger by then.

Pastor Paul made it back to his home by late this past Thursday, but Pastor Haneef will stay longer with the young church. Pastor Kumar and the three who were most severely injured with him remain in hospital.

Please pray for their complete healing, as well as for the pastor’s wife, children and other church members. Most live in grass-thatched huts with barely enough to survive, never mind having to face almost daily persecution.

India is ranked 10th on persecution watchdog, Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has been worse each year since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

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OML 25 OCCUPATION: ‘Some of us gave birth to babies here!’ – Vanguard News

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…N-Deltans set new standard for prosecuting resource control

By Egufe Yafugborhi

For two years, resolute host communities to Oil Mining Lease (OML) 25 in Akuku Toru Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers State  sacked on duty personnel, shut down operations and occupied key assets.acquisition

Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director (GMD), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), lead stakeholder in the OML 25 Joint Venture (JV) with Shell Petroleum Development Company as Operator, lamented  that the shutdown resulted in consequential “loss of 25, 000 to 35, 000 barrels of oil per day (bpd);  in monetary terms, that is about $1.7billion.”

The  fulcrum of the assets occupation by Belema, Offoin-Ama and Ngeje host communities was that, for four decades, such humongous accrued income as Kyari declared lost to the JV partners in two-year of shutdown failed to provide schools, hospitals, potable water, capacity building or meaningful employment for the host communities.

Mrs. Ogbumate Opumabo, among the womenfolk who occupied the flow station, narrated: “Since good things don’t come easy, as living conditions in our community got more pathetic, we subjected ourselves to suffering, even set up church where we fasted and prayed to God everyday at the occupied facility. Some of us gave birth to babies here where we also had our pots, plates, mats, everything needed to aid our occupation. Our experience there is unexplainable, but God answered us in the end”

October 10, as the teeming community protesters eventually pulled out of OML 25 for its formal reopening, following, the  win-win resolution of the conflict among stakeholders, the original demand to evict Shell was not met as set, but the protesters won even a bigger prize, an awakening of a new narrative for prosecuting the struggle for gainful resource control in the Niger Delta.

Checkered  history of long suffering

According to the communities, their hardship was rather aggravated by avoidable oil pollutions that degraded their land and aquatic environment, jeopardising their livelihood which depends on fishing on the rivers and cropping on the soils. Their clear demand was, “Shell must go”, relinquish OML 25 to preferred competitor, Belemaoil Producing Limited (BPL), to farm the assets.

Publicity Secretary, Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Anabs Sara-Igbe, who hails from the OML 25 host communities, said, “We have been agitating for long. The flow station was shut down as far back as 2004. Government intervened and we let them re-open it. 2008, it was again shut, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed, and we let them resume. In 2014, same thing happened, so in 2017, the communities said we have had enough.

“There was no time Shell provided us water. Infrastructure in our communities were poor. Government under military regime gave us water, but it was laden of iron, not healthy for consumption. Fetch it today, the following day the whole water will be coloured. So, we have not been using the water. In recent times, state government has not done anything for us.”

At the latest reopening of the assets, Sen Ita Enang, Presidential Adviser, Niger Delta, representing President Muhammadu Buhari, attested to the health dangers at ‘Opusuya”, the age-long pond water that sustains Belema people in the absence of functional modern taps from government and Shell, which was laden with crude oil when Enang scooped it with bare hands.

At the co-host communities of Offoin-Ama and Ngeye, the story of squalor, deprivations and neglect was pretty much same. At Offoin-Ama, the only educational institution present, a piteous makeshift basic school, made of wooden structure was said to be from communal effort. The European Union and Rivers State Government had erected in the village square, a water project five years back, but Amayanabo of Offoin-Ama, HRH King Sibia Sukubo Aaron, Kilima Diaba Offo XIII said, “It was never completed.”

King Sibia, in unison with his Belema counterpart, King Boudilion Ekine, Oko XXVIII, Amayanabo of Kula, alleged that SPDC had  always reneged on its agreements with the community.

However, the reality of pervasive emptiness and squalor in the community supported the perception of his Highness, Ibinabo Daniel Kiliya, Regent of Ngeje Community when he said, “Shell in 40 years never thought of tangible projects in the community.”

Belemaoil, Jack-Rick Jr as game changers

Before now, oil communities in the Niger Delta, even in the days of  the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, have hardly been taken serious by government and industry regulators in agitations for control of their oil and gas endowment chiefly because they prosecuted such struggles in the absence of adequate home capacity (technical or financial) to farm those oil fields on their own. The common approach was to call for eviction of one operating IOC whenever relationship are strained in the hope of patronizing another to take over.

The coming, into the oil and gas space, of Belemaoil changed that narrative. Founded by Jack-Rick Tein Jr, a son of the soil, who has felt the hardship among his Belema folks, Belemaoil wasted no time in building confidence among the host communities the moment it acquired 40% participating interest in neighboring OML-55 from Chevron Nigeria Limited in the Joint Venture (JV) with the NNPC.

Within a year of taking over OML 55 five years ago, the host communities in Kula claimed Belemaoil surpassed 40 years of both International Oil Companies (IOCs) Chevron and Shell interventions in their respective assets host communities through infrastructural transformation and human capital development among the people.

In  its  core business, Belemaoil also grew production from 7000bpd under Chevron to as much as 12000bpd, and  added to more than 70 MMscfd recoverable volume of gas, generating more revenue and sacrificing more funds to develop and carry the communities along in the process. The company through gainful engagement of community youths in facility surveillance has also eliminated rampant oil theft and vandalism on OML 55.

Today the company is reputed as the first upstream major to have began construction of its head office in its operating field while also constructing its own oil terminal, hitherto the exclusive preserve of the IOCs. So, beyond fraternal attachments, these attributes informed OML 25 host communities insistence on “Shell must go” for Belemaoil replicate the achievement in OML 55 in their communities.

A leader among the protesting youths, Iselema Ekini, said,

“We see how Belemaoil employed youths, built markets, clinics, in the places they operate, proving that an indigenous oil company would look after its host communities better. We therefore urged Shell not to seek renewal of OML-25 license, but allow Belemaoil to take over. All the IOCs have been doing is how to repatriate as much revenue to their home offices abroad while we suffer.

Win-win resolution of conflict

In the win win resolution of the OML 25 crisis, Shell, having renewed its ownership of the lease, wasn’t displaced, but Belemaoil with 7.7% stakes on that lease got the privilege of maintaining operations and earning the communities confidence to be the oil firm with right of first refusal to acquire Shell stakes at any point SPDC decides to divest her stakes.

Already Belemaoil has hit the ground running with the sustained commitment to make the difference, facilitating the groundbreaking for 1.5million liters potable water and 12Km treated water reticulation project for Oko-Ama and Belema by the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mele Kyari. Kyari, represented by Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investments Management Services (NAPIMS), Musa Lawan who also hoisted the Nigerian Flag and those of key stakeholders at the OML 25 platform to signal its reopening.

HRM King Boudilion Ekiye Okor, Amayanabo of Belema, said in the occasion, “Today, I am the happiest man. Belemail, owned by our son is now in charge of maintaining operations. Now we know who to hold if we are disappointed. If he (Jack-Rich) fails us, we go to his mother and father’s house to complain, but he has given us so much confidence that we know he can’t fail.

Chief E K Clark, Leader of PANDEF which prominently provided motivation for shutdown of the OML25 thanked key stakeholders for the peaceful resolution. Clark represented by PANDEF’s Vice Chairman, Godknows Igali, particularly recognised the role of federal government, host communities, BelemaOil, NNPC and the Petroleum Ministry under Timipre Sylva.

“When the GMD NNPC, Kyari came 28 of last month, he promised to grant all your wishes. I am happy you are already attesting to some being meant already. PANDEF is grateful we are all winners. We have, by this struggle of the past two years, redefined the struggle for resource control”, Clark told the communities.

I am sorry, Buhari empathises with host communities

President Mohammadu Buhari, represented by Sen Ita Enang, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, tendered apology on behalf of the nation to the host communities over their long suffering in the midst of plenty all these years.

Buhari said at the formal reopening of OML 25 that, “We’ve been to the communities. I felt touched that they are asking for for a school, hospitals in 2019 after 40 years of oil and gas being taken from their soils. I scooped the water from pond which you people drink. It is smeared with oil.

“On behalf of the nation, I apologise to you. We will change for the better for you, for us all as a nation. We will not only build schools, hospitals for you, we will provide complete communities for you. Working with state government, Niger Delta Development Commission, Amnesty, Ministry of Niger Delta Affair, we will ask to know what they are doing.

“We are coming here at a very good time. Just two days ago, the President presented the draft 2020 budget to National Assembly (NASS). Now that I have seen what you go through, we are going to take this message to the NASS, to redirect the budget to know what they are providing for you.”

At the OML25 Platform and Flow station where hundreds of community protesters, mainly women formally vacated the flow station and other key assets they have occupied and shutdown since August 2017, Sen Enang expressed Buhari’s gratitude for their peaceful disposition while it lasted.

He also cautioned, “The whole struggle has come to conclusion. We thank you for your peaceful disposition through the struggle. We can now vacate peacefully and allow work to continue, as the issues are being addressed. You are aware that some immediate demands have already been met.”

Lifting up the hand of Jackrich Jr, Enang also told the host communities, “Every community who has sons as Jackrick who care this much for his people should take care of him and pray for him to remain safe, healthy and blessed to continue to move your communities forwards.”

Founder of Belemaoil, Mr Jack-Rich Tein Jr, hardly involved in comments and speeches over the unfolded drama has maintained that, “If you engage the community and make the people an important element of your business, the communities and you will have mutual values and mutual gains.

“If the communities are happy, your business can thrive, but if the communities are not happy, you have lots of operational bottlenecks, sabotage and all that. The most important thing for us today is to see that the resolution, reconciliation has taken place.”

Already, stakeholders in Ogoni, Rivers are canvassing the Belemaoil CSR model to agitate for who takeovers OML 11 that had abandoned for years over the conflict conflict which claimed the lives and Ken Saro-Wiwa and co agitators under Movement For Survival of Ogoni People. Governor Wike, though, had already announced Rivers Government acquisition of Shell’s stakes on that lease.

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SoftBank

Fair, the vehicle subscription startup backed by SoftBank, is loading its executive team with veterans in the tech, venture and automotive industries as it seeks to build out its Uber leasing program and expand beyond North America.

Fair.com today announced three key hires to lead the development of its car subscription app, financing department and leasing program with Uber.

Jay Trinidad, a former Google and Discovery Networks executive, is now chief product officer. Trinidad will direct the company’s app development and technology efforts. Former chief accounting officer of TrueCar John Pierantoni has been hired as senior vice president of finance and risk.

Pat Wilkison, general partner of venture firm Exponential Partners — an early investor in Fair — will run the startup’s Uber program.

The three hires are critical additions for the three-year-old startup as it tries to convince consumers to try its car-as-a-service platform over buying or leasing a vehicle from a traditional dealership or other online sales upstarts. The advantage for Fair, aside from the $1.5 billion treasure chest it has amassed — is the platform itself.

The company was founded by automotive, retail and banking executives, including Scott Painter, former founder and CEO of TrueCar, on the premise that today’s consumers, including those in the gig economy, want flexibility.

Fair has tweaked the traditional lease to give consumers more options. Users can subscribe to the program and switch vehicles through the term of their “lease.”

It’s a capital-intensive business model that requires the kind of experience that Painter believes these three executives can deliver.

The hires will help drive Fair’s aggressive efforts around payment, infrastructure and financial planning as it scales its flexible car ownership model internationally and tries to make a name for itself on the global stage.

“A critical part of our transformation effort is deepening our bench of talented executives to set us up for success now and into the future,” Painter said.

The three hires come on the heels of rapid growth, a critical acquisition and huge Series B funding round of $385 million led by SoftBank, with participation from Exponential Ventures, Munich Re Venture’s ERGO Fund, G Squared and CreditEase.

“After closing $385M in our Series B, it’s time to put that capital to work for us to buy cars and propel growth—with this new executive team providing us with important insights and leadership.” Painter said in a statement. “Jay will eliminate execution risk and bring in operational and strategic expertise, Pat is an investor-turned-employee crusader, while John is a world-class financial and accounting expert around whom we can build a sound subscription business and strong auto insurance division.”

Fair acquired in January 2018 the active leasing portfolio of Xchange Leasing, a service Uber first established in 2015 to lease new and nearly new vehicles to drivers who did not come to the service with their own cars.

That acquisition laid the foundation for what has become a big piece of Fair’s business today. Some 45% of Fair’s cars are used by Uber drivers today.

Fair also has aspirations to expand beyond the U.S., Trinidad told TechCrunch in a recent interview. The company hasn’t publicly disclosed which countries it might go to first. Europe and Asia, particularly considering Trinidad’s long background in the region, would be the most likely markets for Fair.

In the next year, the company hopes to move into international markets and grow its workforce, which will likely mean moving into a bigger office, Trinidad said.

“I really think in a year’s time, at least in the markets we’re targeting such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, you’ll start to hear ‘Why not Fair a car instead of buying or leasing one?’ It will be a third option people consider.”

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