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Startup Watch: Company rebellions, new MENA crowdfunding platforms, and why your hacker is not your


The world of entrepreneurship news is a complex one, with people ever ready to give their two cents on what they think is hottest industry, where you should invest your time and money, and which startup is about to f-f-f-f-fail.

To help you navigate through the mayhem, here’s our wrap of what we’re reading on digital security, company rebels, gifs and celebrity investors.

Feed the fire inside your rebels. Conformity is not only dangerous, it’s counter productive and kills creativity. It also means you’ll lose talented staff and possibly go bankrupt. While we don’t encourage rewarding poor behavior, this piece is advising you to encourage constructive nonconformity, or behaviors that deviate from organizational norms and expectations of others, and ultimately benefit the company. A good place to start is to tell your employees what job needs to be done rather than how to get that job done.

Everyone needs crowdfunding these days, even NGOs. On Monday, a new site launched to support social impact projects in Palestine. Build Palestine wants to ease the obstacles Palestinian initiatives face in secure funding. Zoomaal also launched their new crowdfunding platform in late October, titled GivingLoop, serving nonprofits and social enterprises in the Arab world and internationally. It’s a maverick among crowdfunding platforms as it requires a monthly payment plan from backers in order to maintain engagement with the projects they fund, as well as solve the challenge of financial sustainability among NGOs.

Wamda of the Week: your password is 123456 and that’s (sorta) okay. Just don’t be one of those who is still running decades old software on your device. Hit ‘Update All’. Do it now. We found out from hacker and entrepreneur Matt Suiche that it’s not our poor passwords that are to blame for someone hacking our Skype and sending out viruses to our colleagues, it’s actually the company’s fault! The business needs to make sure employees are using updated products because as threats increase, your weakest link is your software.

There’s gotta be a better way to exit. When entrepreneurs are restricted to selling themselves to rivals, going public or selling to investors to cash out, they often sell their heart along with their company. Hypothetical alternatives include adopting an OpenIPO model, which may help companies hold on to their core values and “reduce the pressure of being measured by and living up to short term financial performance expectations”. Sounds like a lofty goal to us, but worth thinking about.

Ashton Kutcher may have hosted Punked, but when investing he’s not messing around. The star of films ranging from Steve Jobs to Dude, Where’s My Car was ranked at #1 for celebrity investors by CB Insights. Kutcher, described as a “prolific early-stage angel investor”, has invested in over 100 startups during the past 10 years including Airbnb and Skype. Next up on the list was rapper Nas, who is not so famous anymore so we’ll skip over him and have you go through the chart yourself. Any chance Amr Diab or Nancy Ajram are looking into investing in MENA startups? Shi million w nus?

Top two celebrity investors. (Chart via CB Insights)

UAE employees: on your marks, get set, read? Our law of the week comes from the UAE president, who has said employees must be given time off during working hours to read. Aimed at pushing the country further towards a knowledge economy, the law also exempts books and magazines from taxes and fees and mandates coffee shops to have reading material available to its customers. So CEOs: get out your bean bags and dust off those book shelves, they’re more than decoratives now.

October 2016, when the numbers caught up to the obvious. Last month, internet usage on mobile and tablets exceeded that on desktop computers. The new figures released Monday are from Irish Web analytics firm StatCounter. So if you are one of the rare companies that isn’t thinking mobile-first, yesterday was the right time to start.


Forget sentences, GIFs are the new words. GIPHY, the Google of gifs, raised a fresh $72 million round of equity funding last week. The company, whether you pronounce its name it with a hard g or soft g (which is just wrong in our opinion) is valued at a whopping $600 million. Last week it also released some crazy numbers like these: gifs via GIPHY are seen by more than 100 million daily users and more than two million hours of gifs are watched daily. And the best part of its massive success is that the company has no real revenue stream. So all we really wanted to say here is:

Feature image via Wikimedia commons

November 3rd 2016, 3:21 am
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