Mocality Accuses Google of Playing Dirty to Win Kenyan Businesses {UPDATED}

Posted In Business - By robertalai On Friday, January 13th, 2012 With 7 Comments

google hell evil Mocality Accuses Google of Playing Dirty to Win Kenyan Businesses {UPDATED}

Mocality is having a spat with Google. It is not surprising if you have read our thoughts on Google. We believe that Google is very evil in not only its modus operandi but also its general intention in the continent. The sad part is that when I did a blog post talking about the evils of Google, Stefan Magdalinski who heads MIH Internet operations in Sub-Saharan Africa were on the side of Google.

Google launched a drive called Get Kenyan Businesses Online. The campaign is where Google seeks to get more businesses online by simplifying to the businesses the process of registering domains and getting a running website. Google would do that within 21 days. That was impressive. There is a catch though, if you want own domain and not yourbusiness.kbo.co.ke, you then had to pay a fee. Otherwise it would be free. The problem is that there was a small uptake and so I believe that Google decided to play dirty with competitors.

So Google has been calling businesses and out-rightly lying to the businesses in Kenya that it has a partnership with Mocality and that it can make great websites. What Google does first is mine data from Mocality Business Profile pages, the with that data, Google’s agents (sometimes call centres in Kenya and lately in India while sometimes it looks like they are just Google staff) call the businesses and claim that they got the contacts from Mocality (true) and this was only possible since Google Kenya has a partnership with Mocality (wrong).

The sad part is that Google never requested Mocality to have the data or enter into any kind of partnership. Google just decided to mine content from Mocality, selling their products which are competing with Mocality products and generally lying about the relationship with Mocality.

Mocality managed laid a trap to spook Google by editing some of the business contacts on Mocality pages and giving them Mocality call-centre contacts. Mocality call-centre staff were briefed on what to do in case the suspicious numbers called. Within a few days, Mocality was able to get this and this evidence. Seriously Google was playing rough.

In the blog post, Stefan says;

As of January 11th, nearly 30% of our database has apparently been contacted.”

On Mocalitty’s relationship with Google, Stefan says;

Google is a key part of our business strategy. Mocality will succeed if our member businesses are discoverable by people via Google. We actually track how well our businesses place on Google as a key metric, and have always regarded it as a symbiotic relationship. We are in the business of creating local Kenyan content that Google can sell their adwords against. More than 50% of our non-direct traffic comes via Google (paid or organic). For us, the cost of going elsewhere is NOT zero.  

On how Google’s actions affect Mocality and Kenyans, Stefan writes further;

“Mocality designed our crowd sourcing program to provide an opportunity for large numbers of people to help themselves by helping us. By apparently systematically trawling our database, and then outsourcing that trawl to another continent, Google isn’t just scalping us, they’re also scalping every Kenyan who has participated in our program.”

What I find insulting in the blog post by Stefan is that even 3 months ago, he still had a mindset of “Kenya as a corrupt place to do business”. I wonder more corrupt than South Africa, UK or where? Kenyans are not more or less corrupt than those in UK, US or wherever. Places like UK which he resided in for some time are “less corrupt” because of the intelligent structures which helps those who seek services skip human interactions at various points.

Most of the companies in Kenya, including Google, which Stefan see as corrupt have strong British roots since that was our colonialist. Even companies being called Kenyan are not as Kenyan as people like Stefan would want us to believe. It is stupid for Stefan to cry for help while at the same time insulting the Kenyans who have made it possible for him not to go on doing menial jobs in UK.

But on data mining, I believe that Mocality and MIH Internet as a whole has a right to seek answers from Google. They should not generalise it so that they will not get answers, they should call Joe Mucheru and his team to answer for this. Nelson Mattos also looks crafty and must have authorised this (he has done it to me).

UPDATE:

Google is said to have outsourced all jobs of getting business on KBO to India’s Iridium Interactive. The calls must have been originating from Iridium both in Kenya and India. In Kenya they are located on 7th floor Pushotam place and the key local contact is listed as Juliet Gacheri while in India they also share an address with Google.

A source at MIH Internet group say that Mocality looks to take legal action against Google on this.

Google, you need not be evil!

IMG

About - Robert is an African Tech Blogger, Critic, Net Evangelist, Speaker, Mentor for Young Boys and Girls, Editor @TechMtaa and likes to Provide Sanitary Towels To Poor Women through the DishAPad Initiative

  • http://twitter.com/tallulahlucy Tallulah Habib

    Horrifying!

  • Kirimihour

    Saying it like it is. Hate him or like him, Alai says it like it is. The problem with this part of the world is that we worship the global giants and any company that promises heaven. We don’t read between the lines, we don’t examine the issues. Next on the line you will hear of a stolen idea from Kenya being implemented across our borders for profit, this is why all wannabe developers, the kind that hang around iHub should be careful to protect their work as they go through the “competitions”, talks and “garages”. It is okay to win that iPad, but think a little more. 

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  • Zen

    Sadly Google outsourced the work of recruiting  and designing kbo websites to an unscrupulous Kenyan – Indian Company named IridiumInteractive…Naughty as hell

    • Anonymous

      And not liable or criminal.  This entire story is click bait.

    • Juliet Gateri

      Official Response of Iridium Interactive:
      Dear Sir/ Madam

      In the context of the latest conversations regarding the Scraping & Calling operations done on Mocality’s databse by Google, Iridium Interactive officially & categorically denies any involvement in these operations.   Any allegations/ rumors indicating our involvement are baseless, false and grossly misinterpreted.

      Juliet Gateri
      Business Manager
      +254 722 561 070

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