I wish I never stopped blogging tech and concentrated on other things because I regret it each and every day. First I lost a friend we used to have a banter with. I lost Idd Salim and I just heard that Idd was gone through Twitter. Idd died in September 2013 after a short illness. He was a friend who needed to talk to me.
A new manager was joining the iHub and Idd wanted the manager asked 5 specific questions. Idd called me and I told him that I would call him back as I was busy doing many things I have been used to doing for the past one year. I am running a business I don’t want to expose to haters and at the same time doing 3 other things which pays me better than blogging tech.
So for the past one year I have not blogged tech regularly. Idd died with his questions. I regret it to date.
Today, a friend called me to tell me that Carey was no more. I didn’t believe it at first until when I read the news online but still took it as a very unfunny joke as Carey was NOT DEAD (in my head). The friend informed me that Carey died in “a carjacking incident.” Because the friend works in the tech-sphere and runs one of the most prominent tech companies in Africa, I thought that Carey and his Cheki team might have been trying to pull some prank on me with the “carjacking” to promote the CAR CLASSIFIEDS business.
I thought it was so unreal. I didn’t believe what I was being told. I was serving a client who was very prominent. I was driving up and down in town. I kept saying that this was a prank by Cheki. I was to call Carey the other week when I realised that there was a spike in Cheki and Brighter Monday adverts in the local media.
When I first met Carey in 2012, he promised me that running adverts on mainstream media would never be part of his strategy to promote his business in the country or regionally. So I wanted to ask him what made him change his mind. I procrastinated because tech was not urgent to me anymore. I have other business to take care of and they pay well.
I met Carey after a short exchange on Twitter. I found him to be among the few wazungus who were doing tech in Kenya and were not snobs or didn’t rely on helping Erik Hersman hate Alai for survival. Carey was a very accommodating man. When I sent him my number and he called me, I gave him two conditions for our meetings.
First was that he had to meet me WHERE I WANTED and second was that he had to come alone. I didn’t like him tagging along some weirdo who would spoil the meeting and I didn’t want to meet a snob so I insisted on a place of my comfort. I called Carey to Ranalos. He was very happy that I chose the place because he was not a Java or Art Caffe person.
I came realise that Carey was not the typical Nairobi mzungu who was worried about all things. Carey told me that he was a Kenyan who loved the country so much. He was not comfortable with all the expatriates who were hanging around iHub and claiming how they have come to save the country from the stone age technologies the locals were using. Carey believed that VERY FEW knew what they were doing and most were either out to belong or just to exploit the locals but not to give anything in return. Carey knew who was serious and who was not. He didn’t like the iHub model.
We ate coconut fish (my favourite dish at Ranalos) and he taught me a thing or two about how the Aussies loved their fish.
I would late meet Carey more than a dozen times. Carey was great friend. He like some of my most trusted friends knew all the hate I get for being the guy who say what others feel uncomfortable to say. He said that he didn’t agree with me some time but he supported me saying it my way because “WE CAN’T ALL BE THE SAME.” He called me whenever I was on the news for doing something which annoyed someone.
Carey called me to share lots about the tech space in Africa. Carey knew much more than you can imagine about every tech investor in the continent. He thoroughly researched. He knew what his competitors would do 3 months before even some top employees knew what the directors were planning.
Carey understood the global classifieds market like no other. I wondered if he was ever going to make money because others with deeper pockets were not making money. Carey told me that his business model was so uptight that not making money was just not part of his worries.
When he informed me that he was buying (investing in) BrighterMonday, it dawned on me much later that Carey was not joking. Whenever I drove around and saw a Cheki branded car, I would stop the driver and ask him a thing or two about the business. I sensed that Cheki employees were so positive about the company’s prospects unlike other local tech companies. They all believed in the business.
When I wanted to sell one of my cars, I didn’t trust online classifieds so much and since I had to pay to be on Cheki, I thought I should try the newspapers first before anything else. I advertised on Nation and all those who called me didn’t seem serious or trustworthy. There were many grey areas. So I posted the advert on Cheki as a last resort despite having spent more than Ksh 3,000 on a Nation advert which didn’t deliver any buyers. I sold my car through Cheki after just one week. I got 4 calls in which all seemed to be serious buyers except one who was so busy to even arrange for viewing.
RIP Carey……… I just couldn’t continue writing this.