Currently, iROKO may be seen as a shadowy figure of its former self, with all sorts of negative publicity being published left, right and center about the firm. The founder and CEO Jason Njoku, in particular, is one man bearing the heaviest loads of all the finger-pointing and blames games being floated around as to why the firm is in its current sad states of affairs.
Njoku in his personal Tumblr opened up and shared his take on what is ailing one of Africa’s poster child of an innovative startup idea. Njoku starts by pointing out that in the last six months, the firm has shifted into a new direction but falls short of giving the specifics.
Njoku also confirmed that the firm has had to let go of some 130 people, 96 of whom being contractors that were brought in recently to work on particular projects. He also argues that the situation iROKO is currently in is something normal for any startup company trying to set up a foothold in the market. Companies like Twitter, Yahoo, Evernote, Snapchat and Rovio have had to do a similar thing in the past.
Although he did not mention any names, he also says a couple of other large consumer internet companies in Nigeria also had to lay off some staff within the last 18 months. He says this is a known fact, despite it not being reported in the mainstream media.
There is no denying that the media is currently shading bright lights on iROKO’s current turbulence. Njoku says that this is not his primary concern. Instead, he is more concerned about the lives of the people his firm has had to let go, and the implications it will have as far as the hearts and minds of those who decided to join the company is concerned.
Njoku does not deny that the shakeup will have a dent on the staff’s morale and make firm’s future seem dim. He also admits that it is his responsibility to explain the whys, when and what happened at iROKO. He starts by acknowledging that 2015 has been an extraordinarily different year for him. It has been the first time that he has spent less than 15% of his time physically present in Lagos. Although he tried keeping in touch via email, which did not seem to be as effective.
Njoku furthers shares his regrets about having to part ways with a big part of the enthusiastic and hardworking individuals that made up the iROKO team in Lagos as the firm relocates back to London. Njoku admits that he loved their work, and it is quite unfortunate that iROKO had to part ways with them. He also explains how the firm will address issues about outstanding wages, and explain its decision of having to relocate back to London.
He confidently says that iROKO is resilient enough to overcome the current turmoil, it successfully did so two years ago when it was apparently declared dead. The concerned department are:
Video quality control – a department that has nothing to do with iROKOtv consumer business.
Offline subscription sales – a Lagos-focused activity that was in operation for 13 months that needed the firm to invest significantly higher than the line marketing or be out of that space. Njoku says the company is not big on marketing spend, and they couldn’t justify the massive investment, so they had to step aside and focus their attention towards relocating to a different capital.
Free trial telesales – a contract-based Android app only activity.
Linear and creative services – currently iROKO’s distribution team is based outside London, and the firm has decided to relocate the senior team and junior roles back to the London offices.
You can read more on this at Jason Njoku’s Tumblr.