A look at some of the 2018 African startup acquisitions, so far

Compared to the mature startup ecosystems, there are still few African startup acquisitions taking place. Both in count and count value.

It is not just the acquisitions, but exits in general. For example, the much anticipated Interswitch IPO is yet to happen. Though there’s hope it might happen, soon. Rocket Internet, Jumia’s investor, is also hinting at the possibility of an IPO for Jumia Group.

Yet, on a small scale, there are exits happening in form of acquisition. For example, last year, PropertyPro (called Tolet.com.ng before) acquired Jumia House Nigeria. This year, there’s been slightly more activity. Which, anecdotally, signifies an upward trend.

Here’s a list of some of the acquisitions that have so far happened in 2018. Important to note is that this list is not any way exhaustive.

1. Zinox & Konga

Zinox acquired Nigerian e-commerce company, Konga in February. For long, Konga has been viewed as Jumia Nigeria's main competitor.

The total acquisition price remains undisclosed to-date. But Zinox spokesman Gideon Ayogu says the cash-for-equity deal was “way higher” than the $10 million price that has been widely reported.

After the acquisition, Konga has merged with Yudala. Another e-commerce company associated with Zinox Technologies. The two companies will now trade under the Konga brand name. Fusing both online and offline aspects.

2. Cape Networks Acquired & Hewlett Packard Enterprises

In March 2018, Aruba -a Hewlett Packard Enterprises Company, HPE, announced the acquisition of Cape Networks, a Cape Town-based Software as a Service, SaaS, and a hardware company. Following the acquisition, it became part of Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

3. 1001 Squared & QuickHelp

Nigerian AI-enabled chatbot and SMS-based directory service QuickHelp was acquired by Canadian social enterprise firm 1001 Squared Artificial Intelligence for an undisclosed amount. QuickHelp is a free community-based business locator built with AI/Machine learning technologies. (See also: The future is looking brighter for African chatbots solutions)

4. Samsung & Kngine

In March 2018, Egyptian-based Kngine, launched in 2013, was acquired by South Korea-based Samsung Electronics. The acquisitions, according to Egyptian Independent, was to “improve its virtual assistant Bixby.”

Kngine, co-founded by brothers, Haytham and Ashraf ElFadeel, uses AI to develop an understanding of content by continuously reading the Web.

Samsung first invested in Kngine through their venture capital unit, Samsung Next, jointly with Vodafone Ventures in 2014. Before executing a full acquisition of the company.

5. BitPesa & TransferZero

BitPesa announced the acquisition of TransferZero in February 2018. TransferZero is “an international online money transfer platform that specializes in sending money to consumers and companies in 200 countries.”

Also read: BitPesa, an online payment platform, has expanded to Ghana

In the official statement, the Nairobi-headquartered BitPesa wrote that;

"Under the acquisition, TransferZero will continue to operate under the same brand name and all of its employees will stay with BitPesa. [Though] the headquarter will remain in Madrid.”

6. Kudobuzz, AdGeek & RetailTower

Kudobuzz, though on a relatively smaller scale, has been active in the field of acquisition since the beginning of the year. At the beginning of January, the Ghanaian startup, and one of the MEST Africa portfolio companies acquired AdGeek, an ad creation tool. The AdGeek team joined Kudobuz “as part of the terms of the acquisition”.

Two months later, Kudobuzz announced that it had acquired RetailTower. An e-commerce product that allows merchants to list their products across multiple shopping engines to “supercharge how Merchants Sell Across Multiple Shopping Engines.”

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