We speak with both parties about the acquisition and what it means to the future of business journalism.
Egypt's RiseUp, the organiser of the region’s largest startup and entrepreneurship summit, has acquired MENAbytes, a so-far-Saudi-based business news website with a special focus on technology and startups. The acquisition also includes trackMENA, a new data platform by MENAbytes to help users track startups, VCs, investments and acquisition in MENA.
Founded in mid-2017 by Zubair Naeem Paracha, MENAbytes has quickly grown to become one of the leading startup media outlets of the Middle East & North Africa with hundreds of thousands of monthly pageviews. MENAbytes has recently expanded its coverage to Pakistan and is looking to further expand it to Turkey and some other emerging markets.
Paracha, the solo entrepreneur who happens to be the only employee of MENAbytes, will join RiseUp as a result of acquisition and (continue to) lead MENAbytes, trackMENA and some other digital efforts of the company. "Abdelhameed and RiseUp understand that MENAbytes has been successful because of being able to report stories from all over region independently without any restriction and that is why MENAbytes has been given full autonomy for the editorial. This is one of the highlights of deal. It won't change," Paracha tells Startup Scene.
"MENAbytes will have access to RiseUp's resources and network and that I think is the biggest advantage. But yes, the option of expanding the team for building MENAbytes, trackMENA and some other digital products, is being considered," he explained when asked about the plausibility of expanding the team, now that there is capacity.
This news comes amid a deep pain point in the fluctuating business of journalism, let alone business journalism. "I think it is a really difficult business to be in," admits Paracha. "Monetisaion is extremely difficult. Even with MENAbytes, the idea always was to build products (data, events, etc.) around the brand MENAbytes that could bring in the cash. Unless media outlets get creative, it will become very difficult to survive."
“I am very excited about becoming a part of RiseUp and working with Abdelhameed and the brilliant team there,” Zubair Naeem, MENAbytes founder said, “especially because of their vision of building a platform to offer every online and offline resource that an entrepreneur may need to grow their startup in MENA. Partnering up with RiseUp will
open many new avenues for MENAbytes and trackMENA to build the largest startup news and data platform for the emerging markets.”
“MENABytes will continue doing its work editorial independently but with a greater reach and access to community and ecosystem,” Abdelhameed Sharara, RiseUp CEO, tells Startup Scene. “The acquisition, and working with Zubair, is the first big leap in our vision of being a one-stop shop for the entire spectrum of resources entrepreneurs and startups in the region need to grow.”
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