Big Cabal Media, parent company of TechCabal and Zikoko, raises $2.3M seed funding – TechCrunch

African startups raised between $4 billion and $5 billion in 2021, according to various reports. For years, tech publications run by local digital media startups have been hard at work behind the scenes to get African startups in front of global investors, shaping the narrative of African tech and its development to a turning point last year.

Yet for all its effort and importance to the tech ecosystem, raising significant venture capital seemed elusive for startups in Africa’s digital media landscape that rely on grants and personal funding to scale.

But today’s news shows some promise as Grand Cabal Media (BCM) – The Nigerian-based media company that hosts two well-known publications, TechCabal and Zikoko — announces that it has raised $2.3 million in seed funding to expand its audience and build new verticals.

The seed round follows an angel of $620,000 and the pre-seed round BCM raised between 2016 and 2020, bringing its total funding to over $2.9 million. MaC Venture Capital led the round, while venture capital firms Luminate, Unicorn Group, Future Africa and several angel investors participated.

BCM was founded by Seyi Taylor and Bankole Oluwafemi in 2013. Tomiwa Aladekomothe company’s CEO, replaced Taylor in 2018.

In 2014, the Nigerian tech scene was coming of age as more local and global venture capital flooded into startups building the next big thing. With no publication actively documenting the events surrounding that rise, TechCabal saw a gap, set up camp to be the premier source for gamer storytelling within the tech ecosystem, and hasn’t looked back since.

Four years later, it is now one of the most widely read tech publications covering Africa’s tech ecosystem, from startups and innovators to venture capitalists and policymaking events. Also has newsletters like The Next Wave and TC Events, an events arm that organizes much-requested meetings of traders and investors.

CEO Aladekomo told TechCrunch in a call that TechCabal’s website reaches 300,000 to 500,000 unique readers monthly. He also said that the publication’s newsletters are read by more than 60,000 subscribers in more than 30 countries.

While TechCabal caters to stakeholders in the tech space, Zikoko has a different audience. Launched in 2016, the publication creates and curates content on African youth culture for Gen Z and millennials in and out of Africa.

Initially, Zikoko was fairly light, embracing the BuzzFeed type of content and churning out clever lists and quizzes for its first set of audiences. Some sections of Zikoko’s website still revolve around this coverage, but the publication has evolved to become a chronicler of much more serious things: it tells stories about the daily lives of young people in Nigeria through content, videos, images and memes.

Zikoko reaches more than 20 million readers in a single month across different platforms at its peak, Aladekomo said. The publication’s newsletter has an audience of more than 100,000 monthly readers.

“I think even more important than the absolute numbers is the impact. It’s our ability to drive conversations about money, relationships, careers in a way that no one else is doing,” said the CEO. “Being a voice of the citizens and the government in a way that nobody else does, I think that has been super critical of Zikoko.”

The main direct source of income for TechCabal and Zikoko is advertising, both on their websites and in their newsletters. Other prominent publications within Africa’s technology and entertainment media, such as Techpoint Africa, Pulse, TechNext and Benjamindada.com, also rely on advertising revenue.

Although there are doubts about the long-term sustainability of this model due to the influence of Google, Facebook and their duopoly on advertising dollars, the next alternative, subscriptions, is not exciting for its target audience in Africa who would prefer to pay for music. . or movies than news.

Some publications such as WeeTracker and Stears, which focus on Nigerian economic, political and business news, use this model; however, it is unclear if they are having any success with it.

The Big Cabal Media Team

By not relying too much on advertising, BCM hosts other branches that serve different clients and generate revenue for the publications to thrive. Cabala Creativefor example, it is an in-house content studio that has produced content for global brands like Google, Uber, and Coca-Cola. CT Perspectives, a data analytics consulting service, works on research, data, and industry strategy on different projects. TC Events is also a major revenue generator for the company. BCM said last year’s revenue was 4 times what the company posted in 2020, maintaining a CAGR of 225% over the previous four years.

“We see ourselves as a media company building the future of media. From a revenue perspective, we have always believed that multiple revenue streams are critical to supporting publications that can thrive and deliver on their publishing ambitions,” said the CEO.

“So our structure allows each of those publications to be well-financed: the money that comes in allows us to pursue more ambitious publishing projects.”

It is a challenge to build a media company anywhere in the world. But not too long ago, in the mid-2010s, US digital media startups were hugely popular with investors, with platforms like Vice and BuzzFeed being the main recipients of the billion-plus dollars invested in space.

Last year alone, $115 million was invested in digital media startups in the US. The pandemic and remote work have driven individual journalists to leave legacy publications to become their bosses on platforms like Substack.

Digital media in Africa is years behind the US market of the mid-2010s. At nearly $3 million, BCM is currently the most heavily funded of the lot. Other tech-focused media startups that have raised publicly disclosed venture capital money are very few, including Stears, which landed a $600,000 seed in 2020, and WeeTracker, a $400,000 seed the same year.

And while the race to get there is collective, it’s also personal. For BCM, the plan is that with 60% of Africa’s 550 million internet users under the age of 25 online, it sees a huge opportunity, where traditional media is weak, to become the go-to source for its news. and content across technology, pop culture, lifestyle and entertainment.

“Despite the macro challenges of scaling a media company in Africa, we are building strong, thriving brands that cover ground no one else is covering,” said Aladekomo.

“The media is important and, in addition to being one of the few publications that have received venture capital, we are one of the few companies that seriously analyze the media and its future in the continent. We’re taking it seriously, building a profitable, high-growth business, and we want to shape how we tell stories from Africa that make us influential in ways we’re not currently.”

Aladekomo said this new investment helps BCM invest significantly in its technology and optimize publishing websites. It also plans to further develop Zikoko Memesa Giphy-like product focused on African memes, gifs, and images that the company launched in 2020. Ultimately, it will use the new funding to grow its audience, engage across the board, and solidify its position as one of the most influential media outlets in the world. Africa. and technology brands.

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