Why Pivot25 is a Briefcase Conference of Con Men Using Developers’ Name

I heard the idea of Pivot25 sometime last year from Jay Ballah. The guy told me about the idea and I really liked it and told him that we will love to know what is in there. Then around 18th February 2011, I received a mail giving us what the details would be. We called few contacts close to the event and realised what kind of event the people were organising. It is the same idea with Africa Gathering, Mobile Web Africa and SocialMediaAfrica and Apps for Africa events. The idea is some person who has run nothing, impacted on nothing, is lazy and broke but has the right colour of skin and knows a few lazy foreigners entrusted with facilities because of nothing but their skin colour.

I don’t deny that we should not have high profile events with high profile attendees but I still think that being opportunists at this stage amounts to looting from Kenyans. The sector is barely developed and we should encourage more and more. Kenyan tech community is none existent beyond Nairobi. It is almost in its formative stage in other parts of the country and the scare image will lock others out. We should not make events which are supposed to stir the minds of young people then we go and lock them out with our greedy minds and circle of looters.

So they use the right connection to launch conferences, seminars and workshops and meetings with the hope of reaping off huge benefits from the idea. And when you want to know their connish ways, you will see how sensitive they are to critics. Bloggers are the most independent opinion leaders in any country. But you know what, when they have these briefcase conferences, they will never allow bloggers inside such metes.

The Pivot25 organisers say that bloggers are not journalists in their write-ups and runs a campaign that they just don’t want to deal with bloggers. The reasons for not liking bloggers is because bloggers are forthright. We don’t allow cons, masqueraders and layabouts to try and claim high tables which they don’t know anything about. So these people come out with no record of success anywhere and call a “Developer’s Conference” and charges gate ticket fees from Ksh 6,000, Ksh 8,000 and Ksh 10,000. Price of any product goes with many aspects. There is no way you can wake from a street beggar to charge people premium fees in any way. Are you out for an harambee to buy clothes? Lets be ¬†honest and BLUNT.

Then you know the price of the ticket does not even make sense considering the line of speakers. First how many empty heads at Nokia have been invited? And who is new on the line-up whom we have not seen at iHub’s fireside chats, Tandaa Tech Talks, Strathmore many events or any event in Kenya? What unique talk will be there apart from the recycled presentations? We know the level of creativity of these people. There are 1-3 speakers whom I know can really do something unique every time but not the majority of the Pivot25 lineup. This shows you why the event was thought of. Intentions comes in the package. It was basically to give some poor beggars loose change which they don’t need to earn because the little they have had has not changed their life. It is a briefcase and conman’s event.

Why charge that high fees and still have high profile sponsors like; Nokia, CIO Magazine, InfoDev, WorldWideWeb, Google, Afri-tech, Nairobi University, Demo, Tigo, Equity, Elma, Samsung, AITEC, Capital FM, Mobile Market Association and VC4Africa. The cheapest sponsorship is $15,000  which translates to more than 1.3 Million shillings. The highest is $50,000 which translates to 4.3 Million shillings. Now these people have 114 sponsors which are declared. 16 multiply by 1.3 Million is 20.8 Million (that is just if we take the minimum sponsorship package).

What are the Prizes to be won and how many winners? The overall winner takes $25,000 which translates to around 2.1 Million shillings. There are six categories and each category will have one winner taking home $5,000 which translates to 437k multiply by six you get 2.625 Million. Now add the prizes and the and you will see that only around $55,000 or Ksh 4,812,500 will be given to developers out of the more than Ksh 20 Million collected from sponsors plus Ksh 2,4 Million collected in gate fees. In other words, gate fees will cover the Developer prizes and Jay and the organisers will pocket Ksh 20.8 Million plus. How can I sugar-coat this because it is insane.

The paid attendees is now at more than 350 according to Jay Ballah (main and probably the only mind behind this though mLab is mentioned in hushed hushed tones) and by the time the event will start he says that they will be around 400. Multiply that by the 6000 or the average of all the ticket fees which is 8,000 + 10,000 + 6,000 all divided by 3 which equals to 8,000. So 8,000 multiply by 400 you get a cool 2.4 Million. Now that is a real crook.

So now how do you want me to sweet talk people in a con scheme? And if you see the names being fronted so that the looting from the poor Kenyans can be successful then you realise the circle of mind rapists I was talking about in this blog post. And the same people who are suppose to help the tech community grow are arguing about locking Bloggers out of events. Does Jay Ballah know what fights we used to get into to be allowed to cover tech events and tell the tech stories which the mainstream media ignored or barely covered because the techies weren’t advertising big enough? DON’T TAKE US BACK JAY.

I will welcome your comments and make it blunt. I don’t even moderate the comments so I want all opinions here.

Written by Robert

Respected Kenyan blogger, tech evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle @RobertAlai or Facebook page (


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