One of the shortcomings of the tech space in Nigeria and elsewhere that I still fail to understand is the enthusiasm to share positive news and extra efforts to prevent bad news from leaking to the press.
In my career as a tech journalist, I’ve had several run-ins with tech entrepreneurs including the big names who are unhappy when bad news about their company emerges. The cycle is quite familiar. It starts with affirmative denial, PR brushing and attack on the reporter/news outlet.
Before getting into the DealDey debacle, let me recap a good example of what I’m not happy about.
In March 2017, TechCity exclusively reported iDEA Hub’s decision to shut down operations. In response, the hub aggressively denied it was shutting down. Operations Manager Olaiwola Bolaji spoke to TechPoint and claimed they were not shutting down but only “moved to the Island” even though there was no official statement to that effect.
But going through Bolaji’s LinkedIn page, I found out he joined Google in June 2017 – less than 2 months after claiming iDEA Hub wasn’t shutting down. The hub’s CEO, Helen Anatogu, also left iDEA Hub soon afterwards.
Today, I discovered the hub’s domain name expired and anyone can get it now.
There was a slightly similar trend when Sim Shagaya left Konga, among other major undesired developments in Nigeria’s startup ecosystem. This was why I wan’t surprised about the subtle way that Nigeria’s great deals platform, DealDey, seems to have quietly exited the country in December.
The website is empty and the last post on Twitter wasn’t a goodbye note.
TechPoint reported DealDey actually closed shop early December 2018 – the last time DealDey users saw any deals on the platform or any of its social media platforms.
It is not a wrong thing for a company to shut down, but doing it quietly and not resolving several complains by the customers as shown in the series of posts on social media by online shoppers that used the platform could be regarded as a major smear on the reputation of DealDey’s last publicly known owners, Ringier Africa which announced it acquired DealDey on 23 March 2016.
When the acquisition was announced, DealDey CoCEOs Kehinde Oriola & Etop Ikpe say: “The DealDey team is excited about joining forces with the newlyformed Ringier Africa Deals Group. It offers great opportunities as DealDey brings a wealth of experience in technology, merchant management and consumer behaviour in Nigeria and we will be leveraging the Ringier Africa portfolio in marketing, classifieds and media as well as Silvertree’s e-commerce expertise towards supporting the sustainable growth of the group.”
An expected Ringier trend
While tech enthusiasts in Nigeria are just coming to terms with the exit of DealDey, TechCity found that Ringier had already closed its other daily deals websites that were announced when it acquired DealDey. They include Rupu in Kenya, and Tisu in Ghana.
In a message to its customers the firm said that Rupu, now P Promos, expects them to save money while purchasing a variety of items.
“Although we have been able to bring many great offers to you, we have not been able to bring you all the best deals available in Kenya — because many of the best deals cannot be made available for purchase and delivery online,” read a statement from Rupu in part.
When the platforms in Ghana and Kenya were shut down, Ringier said it was fully focusing on the Nigerian e-commerce market — investing in product and service expansion.
‘‘We define deals as everything that brings good value to our customers and merchants and will not stop to expand until every Nigerian online client can enjoy services from DealDey, PromoHub and Lyf, while discovering new merchants and experiences,” said CEO of RADG & Partner of Silvertree Internet Holdings, JV partner of RADG, Paul Cook.
But the latest development indicated that the strategy did not work. It is also extremely hard to predict what Ringier’s next move will be considering the numerous options and names that had been dropped including plive and p promos that revolve around providing values on Pulse Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya.
Until the company makes an official announcement, the best anyone can do is to guess and speculate. This isn’t good enough and it betrays the concerned citizens, including DealDey’s customers who also need closure.