Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO said last week that he plans to move to Africa in 2020 for at least three months. This occurred after Dorsey completed a month-long trip visiting entrepreneurs in Africa. “Sad to be leaving the continent … for now. Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!),” Dorsey reportedly tweeted from Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) last week Wednesday. “Not sure where yet, but I’ll be living here for 3-6 months mid-2020. Grateful I was able to experience a small part (of Africa).”
Dorsey started his travel to Africa on 8 November 2019. He reportedly visited Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa. In Ethiopia, he listened to aspiring high tech startups. In Nigeria, he met with entrepreneurs and also with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is said to be a board member of Twitter. Onkonjo-Iweala was the Minister of Finance under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Dorsey believes that Africa will “define the future” of global economy. According to Victoria Bekiempis, in the UK Guardian Newspaper issue of 29 November 2019, “Africa’s tech industry is presently experiencing rapid growth. GSMA, a mobile services industry group, said there were 618 “active tech hubs” on the continent this year, up 40% from 2018. According to GSMA, Nigeria and South Africa have the most, with 85 and 80, respectively.”
However, the question is, how does Jack's movement to Africa affect shares and investors of the company?
Jack Dorsey’s stated plan to move to Africa for up to six months is dividing Square and Twitter analysts.
Payment analysts say the opportunity for Square could be tremendous, but they question who will run daily operations. For Twitter, it comes in an election year in which social media companies will likely face increased scrutiny.
Some Square analysts see Africa as an untapped and under-served market. African countries are still heavily cash-based, meaning digital payments and the popular Cash App could make inroads. Square could also bring merchant acceptance through the point of sale systems. Lisa Ellis, partner and senior equity analyst at Moffett Nathanson, said:
"An Africa expansion fits tightly with Square’s mission to empower the individual entrepreneur and drive financial inclusion. I can see products like Square’s merchant working capital, and the ability to purchase bitcoin and do fractional investing, having significant applicability in Africa.” Ellis further told CNBC, “Someone still has to ‘mind the store’ at home, though.”
The region represents the “future of payments,” according to Macquarie senior payments analyst, Dan Dolev. The move could be “very forward thinking” and an opportunity to learn that market in depth, he said. Dolev is also confident that Dorsey can manage both companies remotely.
“This could provide them with a strong perspective on Africa, and a first-mover advantage in a market that will likely be very dominant in payments over the next decades,” Dolev said. “I don’t see any issues, only opportunities.”
Still, investors will likely question how Dorsey will manage the day-to-day operations of Square while he is traveling. Ellis thinks he would likely need to name an interim president or COO of Square. It’s not clear who is the heir apparent and Square declined to comment on the move beyond Dorsey’s tweet.
With the perceived opportunity to explore in Africa, it seems the shares of Twitter may be appreciating in the coming years.