Just as we initially thought, Moses Kemibaro is not leaving Dealfish a happy man. The guy is angry and in most instances now if you ask him anything to do with Dealfish, though he has not officially left, the guy will show you the middle finger. The incumbent Dealfish Regional Manager is set to leave the company for InMobi (which is also struggling) after having various disagreements with the Naspers senior managers over the whole Dealfish regional operations.
First, lets face it. Moses was not that great manager who Dealfish could not do without. The guy was being paid US $5,000 (yeah Ksh 500,000) to do nothing but roam around Lavington, iHub and few sojourns in Kampala, the Congo and Lagos. Moses rarely ventured or ventures beyond the leafy suburbs like Lavington, Kileleshwa and Riverside (the guy went to Hillcrest. WTF! do you expect) while the product he is supposed to be selling is a mass market product. Moses was supposed to connect and understand the user who resides in mogotio but can, from the click of a mouse, buy something from someone in Nairobi, Mombasa or wherever.
He never tried to understand his demographic and relied on giving money to InMobi to deceive the web visitor that there was much activity. You remember the same with Butterfly portal which was being run KDN. The same idea. Play into the minds of people while in actual sense, you deliver to them nothing. That is why the Dealfish has a bounce rate of even upto 85% on the analytics. Which means that 85% of the visitors never go beyond the landing page. InMobi had to reward the guy with an appointment after Dealfish started showing signs that it wanted to consolidate operations. First Isis Nyong’o (InMobi Africa VP and Managing Director) is a friend of Moses and she hangs out with him in the same areas.
How many times did he even visit the internet communities in Zimmerman (Nairobi), Nyali (Mombasa), Otonglo (Kisumu), Kapsoya (Eldoret) or Milimani (Kisumu)? He did not and was not planning to so wtf let the guy go.
The only reason why we have to report this is that Moses threw tantrums and is leaving Dealfish a very bitter man. Moses has confessed to one of his family members (he is a Tanzanian btw) that it has not been easy making decisions at Dealfish let alone run the whole thing. Moses had to face-off with Neil, Stefan and other MIH managers on more than two occasions over issues which he thought were not being handled well.
First Moses went to Uganda, set up an office and recruited a country manager. The country manager was just settling in when he got instructions from Neil that he had to go and fire the country manager because Dealfish did not need him any more. That is just almost one month after recruiting the country manager. The same scenario played out in Ghana. Moses was also just setting up Dealfish Tanzania when he got instructions that he had to cancel the whole idea. Moses was not happy with all these decisions because he put lots of effort in them and he thought that he should protect the investments.
Already Dealfish General Manager, Neil Schwartzman, has announced that the company will cut down operations in 6 of the 8 African countries they operate in. The company is “toning down its operations in Uganda, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Senegal and the Congo to focus on Nigeria and Kenya,” Neil is quoted as saying here.
We hear that Moses played a good role is setting up operations in Congo, Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria. The fight was evident when after poaching employees from blue chips, Moses was called to go and fire them less than 3 to six months later. The same happened with Dealfish Ambassadors who are the marketers. They don’t believe that there is continuity in the company any more.
“Due to lower levels of online activity in other countries, we will focus our effort on the two most lively markets in East and West Africa, namely Kenya and Nigeria, and strengthen our positions there,” Neil Schwartzman is quoted as having said.
The threat seems to be Google’s hands-on approach to the markets as well as the saturation of the classifieds services in the countries. Dealfish and other players had to even cheat on their classifieds postings to survive in the market. At one time I contacted Moses about the many scams posted on Dealfish which makes clients loose trust in the classifieds market. Browsing through the classifieds network, you will bump on to Russian, Nigerian and Romanian cons who promise to sell export all manner of electronics or goods to you country. Dealfish is not ready to remove the scams because it plays into the psychology of people that they have more than 80,000 or so postings. It is all mostly fake.
Dealfish is also expected to rollout a new look of the same platform. The launch is expected in early September according to very reliable sources. Dealfish will also be switching from focusing on “localness” of the adverts to more products like Mobile access. Already there is an Android app out there. You preview the new Dealfish Classifieds look from this link http://dealfish.co.ke/preview/
Dealfish has also started running adverts on local TV stations and will soon be launching adverts on the DSTV which is a sister network under the Naspers group.
Pundit doubt if Dealfish will gain any mileage in the markets they are focusing on now that they are spending almost US $ 1,000,000 yearly on adverts while also paying employees who are not making an impact on their bottom line as much as US $7,000 per employee. It is hard to imagine return on investment with such careless spending. Naspers is known for such foolish spending with the Media24 and Kalahari being testimony to their failures.
We can only wait and see.