Unethical Business Practices: Is Google Trying to Kill Mocality Kenya?

Google business strategy in Africa has been detested by local Startup entrepreneurs. Many are unhappy with Google business initiatives in Africa like Get Businesses Online, Google Trader etc that has been something far from innovative.

And so Google is in the news again for an underhand, unsavoury attempt to get another African startup out of business the wrong way.

It has been recently uncovered that Google Kenya has been accessing Mocality Kenya database and contacting business owners trying to sell their competing product Get Kenya Businesses Online to them. Not only that, the report say that Google employees claim to be working in collaboration with Mocality.

Mocality Kenya is a startup that operates the country’s largest online business directory.

According to Mocality Kenya CEO Stefan Magdalinski

“Since October, Google’s GKBO appears to have been systematically accessing Mocality’s database and attempting to sell their competing product to our business owners. They have been telling untruths about their relationship with us, and about our business practices, in order to do so. As of January 11th, nearly 30% of our database has apparently been contacted.”

In a post on Mocality Blog Stefan revealed the strategies they used in uncovering this anti-competition action.

“At the start of December we analysed our server logs to look for a common pattern for the businesses that had contacted us with these confused calls. We found a single IP/ User-Agent combination that had accessed all these businesses.

So a person or (judging by the access rate) team of people were systematically accessing our database, during office hours, and it looked like they moved into a new office over the weekend at the start of November. But who were they, and what were they doing?

We decided to find out. We made some changes to the site:

- For visitors from the 41.203.221.138 address, we changed the code to serve slightly different content 10% of the time.

- Instead of the real business phone number, we served a number that fed through to our call centre team, where the incoming calls would also be recorded. Our team were briefed to act like the business owners for the calls.

We switched the new code on December 21st. When we listened to the calls, we were beyond astonished.”

You can Read the Full post HERE

According to Mocality CEO Stefan Google should have asked them for the information instead of stealing. They could have easily collaborated with Mocality yet they choose to do it the bad way.

Google is yet to issue and official statement on this. However they said they are currently investigating the issue. We will keep you updated.
Update: Google issued and apology to Mocality and has sacked its Kenya’s Country Manager Olga Arara-Kimani over the saga.

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