Never in my life have I deplaned to an airport covered in my team's banner, stickers and wallpaper. I suppose this is commonplace if you work in advertising or for a big brand that spends on splashy ads, but when you're a journalist, it's novel. This is what happened to me after I exited the plane from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Gaborone, Botswana to help lead our first-ever Forbes Under 30 Africa Summit; the capital's airport was covered in Forbes Under 30 signage.
Aside from stroking my ego, the prevalence of Under 30 paraphernalia seems to symbolize the country's reception of young entrepreneurs shaping the world. Of course, I'm generalizing as a Western reporter and outsider–and we were among a self-selecting group of Batswana entrepreneurs and leaders–but it was unlike the local reception of any other Under 30 Summit I've led (and that number is now close to 10).
In the days that followed, we ran speaker programming that centered on global collaboration and local celebration. This ranged from a chat between Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Forbes' Chief Content Officer Randall Lane to a panel with leading Batswana women, including former Miss Botswana Emma Wareus, who is now a U.S.-based tech leader. "I started realizing I wanted to be in a space where I can create, innovate, learn fast and fail–and create things that will be better for future generations," Wareus said of leaving Botswana and pursuing entrepreneurship.
And of the four talks I moderated, my favorite was the fireside between myself and Brandon Moak, who, at 26, became the youngest CTO of a publicly traded company when his autonomous trucking company Embark went public in 2021. But what's crazier than running a public company when most are still working their first full-time jobs is that Embark plans to have its first product on the market by 2024–years from the IPO. "Building self-driving technology is really hard, and it takes a lot of time to build the product," said Moak. "Capitalizing the business was really important."
You can see all of this and more from the Summit, right here.
Our fourth annual AI 50 list, produced in partnership with Sequoia Capital, recognizes standouts in privately-held North American companies making the most interesting and effective use of artificial intelligence technology.
This week, the New York Times published an explosive piece on Forbes 400 cover subject Ryan Breslow. The publication reports that the founder of online checkout company Bolt inflated his company's metrics and stretched the truth to give the business its impressive valuation and reputation. Here's that story, and ours, too. In response to the Times report, Breslow wrote an extremely long Twitter thread calling the story a "hit piece"–you can read that here, if you have an hour to kill.
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