Profiles: 4 Twitter executives that visited Nigeria with CEO, Jack Dorsey

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On Thursday, 7th of November 2019, co-founder and CEO of social media service, Twitter, and mobile payments company, Square, Jack Dorsey, came to Lagos, Nigeria on the first leg of an African tour that will span Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa.

The next day in Lagos, Jack met with entrepreneurs at the the Bosun Tijan-led Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB) and afterwards headed to the University of Lagos (Unilag).

He also visited Andela and ended the day with a well-attended town hall meeting at the Techpoint Africa headquarters in Lagos.

The 14-man Twitter entourage included four executive members asides Jack Dorsey.

Kayvon Beykpour

Kayvon Beykpour is the co-founder and CEO of Twitter’s video streaming application, Periscope.

Beykpour started Periscope with Joe Bernstein in early 2014. Less than a year later, in January 2015, and before it publicly launched, the app was acquired by Twitter.

In 2017, Beykpour started overseeing all the video initiatives at Twitter as a product lead.

During the town hall meeting, Techpoint invited a Nigerian engineer, Dara Oladosu, to present the solution to Jack Dorsey. Oladosu had built a Twitter bot, called Quoted Replies, that allows users see quoted replies on their tweets.

Suggested Read: Quoted Replies: The viral Twitter bot built by a Nigerian

After the presentation, Beykpour called Oladosu back and offered him a job on the spot.

“I would love for you to maybe consider come joining the company [Twitter],” Beykpour said.

“Things went way better than I expected”. @dara_tobi, creator of @QuotedReplies, reacts to getting a job offer from Twitter. He also discusses the fate of his viral Twitter bot in this interview https://t.co/ZVQKwH6mc3 pic.twitter.com/1wgYOxjHv5

— Techpoint Africa (@Techpointdotng) November 9, 2019

Parag Agrawal

Parag Agrawal is the chief technical officer (CTO) at Twitter.

As an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, as well as having a doctorate in computer science from Stanford University, Parag was chosen in 2018 to lead the technology team of the micro-blogging site after working for Twitter as a distinguished software engineer for over six years.

According to Parag’s LinkedIn profile, he assumed the CTO position in October 2017, after six years of being in his previous role.

Before that, he focused on research in Microsoft, Yahoo!, and AT&T labs up until October 2011 when he joined Twitter.

According to Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC), Parag’s contributions included “leading efforts to increase the relevance of tweets on Twitter users’ timelines using artificial intelligence.”

Parag is one of the people responsible for Twitter’s foray into the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) space, and may have played a major part in utilising the technology to automate campaigns on the platform. Something that Jack Dorsey has cited as perhaps the single biggest improvement around elections since he became CEO of the company he co-founded.

During their visit to Techpoint Africa’s HQ, Parag made it clear that Twitter is looking outside the Bay Area for engineering talent.

“We’re looking to have half of our engineers out of San Francisco,” said the CTO.

TJ Adeshola

TJ Adeshola is the head of US Sports Partnerships at Twitter. He assumed the role after three years as the head of Sports League Partnerships.

In 2012, Adeshola left sports channel ESPN to join Twitter as a senior account officer. Before his current role, Adeshola managed Twitter’s partnerships with major US sports leagues, including the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and Major League Baseball (MLB).

He is also the executive sponsor of Blackbirds, Twitter’s business resource group that celebrates and encourages diverse perspectives.

Adeshola is Nigerian by origin, but he is not the only Nigerian working at Twitter.

Michael Montano studied electrical engineering at The University of Toronto, graduating in 2008.

After his first startup, IPartee, which he co-founded with a roommate back in high school, Mike went on to participate in the 2008 Y Combinator (YC) summer programme to start BackType, a service that lets people find, follow, and share comments from across the web.

At YC, Mike learned how important it is to build something that people want and that building something that’s useful right away is a huge advantage.

He joined Twitter in 2011 as an engineer, and after a major reorganisation by Jack on June 28, 2018, Mike was tasked with leading the company’s engineering team.

Even as Twitter’s lead engineer, Mike admits to working from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He claims he is more productive on those days and able to spend more time on deeper, more strategic work. Tweeting under the hashtag #WhyIWorkFromHome last month, Mike explained that his journey into remote work was initially restricted to afternoons before he made it an all-day affair.

Before IPartee, Mike started a design and development company called, UrbanTwelve, but he doesn’t consider that to be a startup.

New Report: Nigerian startups raised a combined $38.01m in Q3 2019, just 7% higher than Q3 2018. Download the report.

Attend Techpoint Startup School, a 5-day intensive training for budding African tech founders and CEOs. Classes start 2nd of December. Enrol now.

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How Rastafarian Bob Marley Met Jesus Christ Before His Death

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Reggae legend Bob Marley is perhaps the most famous Rastafarian in history. This unique religious movement, which originated in Jamaica in the 1930s, worships former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I as the messiah. Marley routinely spoke publicly about his Rasta faith. But what most people don’t know, and many try to cover up, is the fact that Bob Marley converted to Christianity in 1980 and was baptized as an Orthodox Christian by Abuna Yesehaq, the archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the Western Hemisphere, just seven months before his death, 11 May 1981.

Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq baptised Marley into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, giving him the name Berhane Selassie, on 4 November 1980, shortly before his death.

Decades after the death of legendary Jamaican musician Bob Marley, the intriguing story of his conversion from the Rasta faith to the Christian faith is circulating.

“What most people don’t know, and many try to cover up, is the fact that Bob Marley proclaimed the Jesus Christ is the Lord, and converted to Christianity in 1980,” proclaims an article that has appeared on a number of websites.

One version states, “In fact, on Nov 4, 1980 he was baptized and became a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. When he was buried under Orthodox rites on May 21, 1981, it was with his Bible and his Gibson guitar!”

Other versions of the story say Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie personally dispatched a bishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church to Jamaica who, after Selassie’s death, led Marley to embrace Christianity and repudiate Rastafarianism.

Rastafarianism is a uniquely Jamaican religion that has a number of offshoots, but traditionally teaches that Selassie is the Messiah. The term “Rastafarian” is taken from Selassie’s title before he was crowned emperor – Ras, which is Ethiopian for “Duke” – and his given name, Tafari.

According to the story, the devoutly Christian emperor became alarmed during the 1960s at the growth of Rastafarianism, whose followers smoke marijuana as holy communion and worship Selassie

as God’s holy Messiah, believing the emperor will lead them into righteousness and prosperity.

Appalled, Selassie dispatched Abuna Yesehaq, who was made the Ethiopian church’s Western Hemisphere archbishop, on a mission to Jamaica to proclaim that Selassie himself denied any claim to deity – a message that Yesehaq turned into his life’s work.

About a decade after Selassie’s death, according to the story, Yesehaq baptized Marley, who had taken Rastafarianism worldwide and popularized the group’s trademark dreadlocks – long matted hair.

“Bob Marley is infamous for being reggae music’s ambassador to the world,” reads one version of the report on the Lion of Zion website, which promotes Christian reggae music. “He was raised in the Christian church but strayed away as a youth. He dove into Rastafari and the worship of Haile Selassie and his career exploded as he toured around the nation preaching the beliefs of Rastafari.

“It is also a well known fact in Jamaica that Marley became born again seven months before he died of cancer. Regarding this conversion, I quote two sources.

“Archbishop Yesehaq, head of the Kingston chapter of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church inJamaica, was initially sent toJamaicaby His Majesty to establish the church and to dispel the worship of Selassie.

“Selassie felt that if he personally commissioned someone to start a church that worshipped Christ and not himself, the Rastafarians would follow the true Christ.

“It was these reasonings and many others that eventually brought Bob Marley to be baptized into the Ethiopian Orthodox church by Yesehaq. This conversion is well documented in Jamaica and was strongly criticized by many Rastas.”

Writing for the website Christian Post Australia, Christine Thomasos cites a 1984 interview Archbishop Yesehaq reportedly gave to Jamaica Gleaner‘s Sunday newspaper. Yesehaq died in 2005.

“Bob was really a good brother, a child of God, regardless of how people looked at him,” Yesehaq reportedly told the Gleaner. “He had a desire to be baptized long ago, but there were people close to him who controlled him and who were aligned to a different aspect of Rastafari. But he came to church regularly.”

According to Thomasos, in the reported Gleaner interview – which is not archived on the newspaper’s website – Yesehaq addressed claims that Marley’s terminal cancer was the motivation behind his conversion:

“When he toured Los Angeles and New York and England, he preached the Orthodox faith, and many members in those cities came to the church because of Bob,” Yesehaq said. “Many people think he was baptized because he knew he was dying, but that is not so. He did it when there was no longer any pressure on him, and when he was baptized, he hugged his family and wept, they all wept together for about half an hour.”

Marley, the undisputed “King of Reggae Music,” writes Andre Huie on the website GospelCity, “was an extremely gifted musician that has given a voice not only to his native Jamaica but also to every Third World citizen on the face of this earth.

“His staunch Rastafarian beliefs could very well be credited with cementing the religion and ideologies of Rastafarianism in almost

every country that practices the faith. Marley was indeed a true Rastaman. So could someone please tell me, how in the world could I deduce or even dare ask the question if Bob Marley confessed Jesus Christ?
“Naturally speaking, such a question makes no sense. It’s like asking if granulated sugar is white and if black cows produce black milk. Jesus Christ and the ‘Messiah’ of Rastafarianism, Haile Selassie, are considered opposites in the Rastafarian faith. To confess Christ is the biggest blasphemy in Rastafarianism – like sacrificing the sacred cow.”

However, writes Huie, “it might be a pleasant discovery to some that Marley, just before he died, confessed Jesus Christ as Lord. In other words, he denied that Haile Selassie was God (as Rastas believe) and asserted Jesus as the true living God. If you ask me how I know this, let’s take a journey with a man who has, for years been close with the reggae maestro, who once shared similar beliefs with Bob. I introduce to you, Tommy Cowan.

“Tommy was probably closer to Bob Marley than most people who knew him were.

“’Bob Marley, of course, was gifted, very gifted person. You could probably say he never made a bad song and you know that gifts come from the Lord,’ says Tommy.

“I had the distinct privilege of rapping briefly with Tommy about Bob in an exclusive interview,” writes Huie. “Tommy is the manager and husband of famed Jamaican gospel singer, Carlene Davis. He converted to Christianity and has taken his music-wise entrepreneurship to help advance the current movement of gospel music in the region.

“As he lay back on his chair resting on the wall of his hotel room at Divi Little Bay, Tommy colorfully described the rarely spoken of experience of Bob Marley, about a year before he died.

“Bob Marley himself, before he died, he got baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Tommy says with much conviction.”

Judy Mowatt, a reggae and gospel singer who formerly sang backup for Marley in the group I Threes, recalled learning about Marley’s conversion to Christianity in an interview with Cross Rhythms radio. Mowatt spoke with her former bandmate and Marley’s wife, Rita, about the late musician calling out to Jesus Christ on his death bed.

“When Bob was on his dying bed, his wife Rita called me on the phone and said to me that Bob was in such excruciating pain and he stretched out his hand and said, ‘Jesus take me.’ I was wondering to myself, ‘Why is it that Bob said Jesus and not Selassie,’” Mowatt questioned. “Then I met a friend of mine and he said his sister, who is a Christian, was a nurse at the hospital where Bob was before he passed on, and she led him to the Lord Jesus Christ. So when Rita saw him saying ‘Jesus take me,’ he had already received the Lord Jesus Christ in his life,” according to Christian Today.

Bob died from cancer in 1981 at the age of 36. Yesehaq conducted the rites for the musician’s funeral.

According to the London Guardian newspaper:

“The day of the funeral began with an hour-long service for family and close friends at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity on Maxfield Avenue, presided over by His Eminence Abuna Yesehaq, the church’s archbishop in the western hemisphere, who had baptized Marley in New York the previous November, just after his last triumphal concerts at Madison Square Garden. Bob’s baptismal name was Berhane Selassie – ‘Light of the Trinity.’

“At the end of the short service the coffin was transported to the National Arena, where the 6,000-strong congregation was assembling under the eyes of cameras and reporters from around the world.”

“Regrettably Bob was not able to leave us any post-conversion recordings,” notes the Lion of Zion website, “but he did give us some great music and a powerful spiritual legacy with his last-minute transformation.

“And he is probably singing a true redemption song in Heaven right now.”

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On my radar: Salman Rushdies cultural highlights

The novelist on his favourite new writing, the thrill of baseball and the director whos adapting Midnights Children for Netflix

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Born in 1947 in Mumbai, Salman Rushdie is the author of 14 novels including Midnights Children, which won the Booker prize in 1981, and has twice been named the best of all the Booker prizewinners. The 1988 publication of The Satanic Verses led Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran to issue a fatwa calling for Rushdies assassination. The author now lives in New York, where he is a writer in residence at NYU. His latest novel, Quichotte, is published on 3 September.

1. Documentary
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

Toni
Toni Morrison in a scene from The Pieces I Am. Photograph: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders / Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

I saw this before Toni Morrison died and it seemed like a wonderful portrait of her, but now it feels even more significant. Its directed by the American photographer and film-maker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, who secured amazing archival footage as well as extensive access to Morrison herself, even in these last years when she wasnt very well. I was lucky enough to know her a little bit. People sometimes think she was a very grand lady, a giant figure in literature, but actually she was very down to earth and great fun to be around she loved dancing, for example and the film does a good job of getting this across. Its a beautiful piece of film-making.

2. Music
The Rolling Stones live in New Jersey

The
The Rolling Stones performing in New Jersey. Photograph: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Last month, I went to see the Rolling Stones live at the MetLife stadium and it was an amazing evening. Ive seen the Stones a lot over the years the Observer sent me to report on the Voodoo Lounge tour at Wembley stadium in 1995 and Ive seen their latest show twice. Its extraordinary that theyre still doing it and are as good as they ever were. Mick appears to have recovered from his heart procedure hes still zinging around the stage as fast as he ever did, while Keith remains firmly planted. When I went to see the show in London with my sons, I have never seen them so excited about going to a rock concert. It demonstrated to me that their music really has transcended all generations. Its music that everybody can share.

This

3. Nonfiction
This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrants Manifesto by Suketu Mehta

This is a brief, extremely passionate polemic on the issue of immigration, which of course is a very heated subject in America, where the book was aimed at originally, as well as everywhere else. Mehtas book is a brilliant, deliberately political rebuff to the increasingly popular view that immigrants are a problem. He talks about the history of empire and quotes someone in his family who answered the question, But why are you here? by replying, We are here because you were there. And he has a comic line about how immigrants are the creditors weve come to collect the debt. Its a very powerful book, but it also has a wit about it, which makes it very attractive. Mehta has been getting the usual hate messages and threats on social media, which seems to be the inevitable consequence of putting your head above the parapet these days.

4. Sport
The New York Yankees

Masahiro
Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees pitches in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium. Photograph: Wendell Cruz/USA Today Sports

Im a pretty addicted New York Yankees fan these days and going to Yankee stadium is for me one of the great pleasures of living in New York. Apart from anything else, I really like the atmosphere at baseball games, which is rather different from football. Here, its very much a family occasion and very good-natured. And its really a good time to be a Yankees fan: theyre runaway leaders of their division and have the equal best record of the season along with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In general, its more fun than being a fan of Tottenham Hotspur, who I started supporting in 1961, when they won the double, but who have never won the league again. More than half a century Ive been waiting to see it.

The

5. Novel
The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

This is a novel I read in manuscript and is just about to be published in the US. Mengiste is an Ethiopian writer based in New York and The Shadow King, her second novel, is about the Italian invasion of Ethiopia during world war two, showing history very much from a female perspective. Its on the edge of magic realism, but an amazing portrait of that moment in Ethiopian history. It seems to me that there is a new wave of wonderful writing from younger African women writers, from Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria, and I think that Mengiste is very much a part of that. Her book is tightly written and has a visionary quality.

6. Film
Vishal Bhardwajs Shakespearean trilogy

Shahid
Shahid Kapoor in a scene from Haider. Photograph: UTV Motion/Vishal Bhardwaj/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

An adaptation of my novel Midnights Children is currently being developed for Netflix. The showrunner is an Indian director called Vishal Bhardwaj, who made a trilogy of films based on Shakespeare plays. Omkara is basically Othello and the subject of an angry, jealous husband murdering his wife for an imagined infidelity fits so easily to India. In Maqbool, he brilliantly transposes the story of Macbeth into the Bombay criminal underworld. And Haider took Hamlet into Kashmir. Considering whats happening there right now, its an even more important film than when it came out, because it really shows you what life has been like for people in Kashmir under the heel of the Indian security forces and military. His films are visually astonishing and Im very interested to see how he brings all that talent to Midnights Children.

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Africa’s favorite smartphone maker wants in on China’s hot new tech market

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Hong Kong (CNN Business)Chinese budget smartphone maker Transsion is already dominating Africa with its Tecno brand. Now it’s ready to raise its profile even more by joining China’s splashy new market for tech stocks.

An IPOcould push Transsion’s valuation above $4 billion. It would also take the company public on a market that got off to a stunningly positive start this week.
Analysts say it’s an early win for the Star Market, whichwants local investors to support Chinese tech companies, rather than lose those businesses to markets in Hong Kong or the United States.
    “China wants a rejuvenation of the nation through technology and innovation,” said Mark Huang, an analyst at Bright Smart Securities. “That’s why they launched the board.”
    He added that Star Market “surely hopes there could be a snowball effect” — but that it’s not yet certain whether bigger tech companies will jump on the bandwagon.
    “After all, the board is still in baby size and some rules are still at a trial stage,” Huang said.
    Transsion’s office in Shenzhen did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN Business.
    Transsion, which was founded by Chinese entrepreneur Zhu Zhaojiang in 2006, wants to raise at least 30 billion yuan ($436 million) to build smartphonefactoriesand research and development centers in Chongqing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, according to its prospectus.
    It plans to issue at least 80 million shares, though it hasn’t set exact terms yet. That would give the company a valuation of at least 30 billion yuan ($4.4 billion).
    tech
    Transsion —which also makes, Itel and Infinix phones — doesn’t do business in China, despite being based there. In Africa, it describes itself as an African company.
    Itcontrols nearly half of the African market, according to IDC figures — putting it way ahead of rivals Samsung, Huawei and Apple (AAPL). Transsion also has nearly a 7% share of India’s market, making it the fourth-largest cellphone vendor there.
    In 2018, it sold 124 million cell phones worldwide, generating 22.65 billion yuan ($3.3 billion) in revenue.
    Public documents also spell out why Transsion says it has done so well in Africa. The company said in its prospectus that it has features that “highly suit our target market” — including phones that use nighttime photography settings that are designed for darker skin tones.
    Transsion Tecno: Africa's top smartphone brand could IPO on China's Star Market - CNN
    Transsion’s technology also includes heat protection for electronics and cellphones that have a large battery capacity. In Nigeria, South Africa and Ethiopia, for example, the government frequently shuts off electricity to conserve power, leaving people unable to charge their phones for hours. 
    Price is another advantage. Transsion sells phones without smart features foras little as $9. It sold nearly 60 million Itel phones at that price last year. It also sold more than 30 million Tecno phones at about $11 each.
    The company’s smartphones are more expensive, but still cheaper than its rivals. In 2018, Transsion sold 34 million phones for between $45 and $91.
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    There are challenges, though. The company admittedin its prospectus that other smartphone vendors, including India’s Lyf,are also sellinglow-priced devices.
    Rivals like Huawei, Xiaomi and Samsung are also pushing harder into Africa and India.
    Huawei, for example, has launched an e-commerce platform in South Africa through which it sells phones and other products. And Xiaomi has partnered with African e-commerce website Jumia to sell phones.
      “We face risks of losing our customers and market shares if we can’t maintain innovation … and increase investments in technological research and development, brand management, marketing, after-sale service and supply-chain management,” Transsion wrote in its prospectus.
      The company is responding to competition by pushing into new territories, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and Vietnam. It also started sellingdigital accessories and home appliances. And it is relying more on mobile internet services as a source of revenue.

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