Econet Group Founder Strive Masiyiwa’s nearly six million Facebook followers will have to do without him on the platform according to a post he put up on the 7th of February 2022.
“As we’re on the countdown to the last days of the platform at the end of this month, I want to remind you of one of the most important lessons I’ve taught here since back in 2013 when we got started: The importance of #Reading.”
“I have no Instagram, WhatsApp, and I don’t follow celebrities of any kind. Throughout the day, every day, I’m #Reading stuff related to business: Articles, reports, board papers.”Strive Masiyiwa on Facebook
This announcement comes three years after he left the other big social media network, Twitter in 2019 after not enjoying the dog eat dog nature of the platform. That was the year when his wife, Tsitsi Masiyiwa, also deleted her Twitter account due to what she called cyberbullying
Now, I know you know how bad social media can get. If you, like me have a couple of hundred followers it’s bad but not as bad as it is for someone like Strive Masiyiwa.
Someone as famous as he is has a gravitational pull that prompts everyone to dissect whatever they post through the lens of their own experience. And this is oftentimes a little too much for some, while others can gleefully ignore any pushback.
Now, I am not saying that regardless of how famous someone is they should be exempt from criticism. Quite the opposite actually, because even though social media is a cesspit, it has proven to be a good platform for learning how wrong one is/was about a particular take or opinion. How one then chooses to take that, is up to them.
In saying that, ganging up and bullying is a problem. Keyboard warriors will kick you when you are down and even when you have recanted or ceded the point.
One thing to keep in mind while thinking about his decision is that Strive Masiyiwa has a dizzying portfolio of companies and products, which begs one to ask the question…
Is this really about Facebook or just another push for Sasai?
For all those that might see this announcement as a shock, leaving Facebook is something that Strive Masiyiwa said he was going to do at the end of 2020.
“When I told you at the beginning of 2020 that I was going to shut down my Facebook account at the end of the year, some of you were quite dismayed. But you know that we have been using this Innovation called Facebook for 7 years now, and whilst I think it is fantastic, as an entrepreneur I can never be satisfied with using someone’s product without at least trying something myself. Neither should you in your own field.”Strive Masiyiwa in a Facebook post from August 2020
In that post he said that he would be on Cassava Technologies’ Sasai Moments saying in the same post “Perfect or not, this is the only place I am going to post after 31st December 2020“. Well, another year came and went but he was still on Facebook. As far as I have gone down his timeline, I can’t find a reason for staying on the platform longer than what the post from August 2020 says.
All that aside, Masiyiwa’s push for Sasai is admirable for two reasons. The first is that Africa needs a platform that is better suited to our realities. The big four (Tiktok, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) don’t always factor in the stresses of the continent when they are making strategic changes. An example of this is how Zimbabwean creators on TikTok are not yet part of its Creator’s Fund. I found this out in an episode of our podcast Technikari with PabloZW1.
The second reason ties in with the conclusion of the first and it is monetisation. Making money on social media or content hosting platforms is extremely difficult in Zimbabwe. Big accounts with a lot of views aren’t making as much as their international counterparts. Moreover, the only way to guarantee some sort of money is through corporate or brand sponsorships which aren’t easy to get for the smaller creators.
To attempt to remedy this, Strive Masiyiwa’s Sasai launched YouTube/Tiktok-like platforms called Sasai Watch and Moments. The latter was supported by a continent-wide competition called “African & Talented” that had US$15,000 in weekly prizes back in late 2020.
The former (Sasai Watch) has a content creator friendly revenue split (55/45) but nothing close to its local competitor Gateway Stream which has a staggering 80/20 split for paid content. While we are talking about Gateway Stream, the Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) owned company launched an affiliate marketing program for local influencers that covers all products under RTG’s umbrella.
Are you following Strive Masiyiwa to Sasai?
I have never liked Sasai. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because the product is bad, it’s really good because it has a lot packed into it like a payments facility, Wi-Fi finder, a chat app, COVID passport and more. The problem I have with it is that it is a chore to navigate.
Sasai is far too cluttered to make sense for me and that was my barrier to properly exploring it. Now, this is just my opinion, your experience might be vastly different and if that’s the case hit me up in the comments.
At any rate, Strive Masiyiwa has a very large following on Facebook, garnering hundreds of thousands of likes and interactions whenever he posts. He might be able to finally convert his followers onto his own platform, and with Sasai having the lowest bundle costs of any social media in Zimbabwe (on Econet), he might just be able to make it happen…
All we can do now is wait and see…