I was publicly accused of being the defender of openly shady founders. Usually, I could “clap strike back” or ignore. But I see this as an opportunity to write a blogpost that responds to many who wonder why I give too many passes to founders.

First, a bit of context.

The tide of good times and irrational exuberance in startup land is down, and every other week, we are discovering those who are swimming naked. It’s one week, one recklessness or worse, getting revealed.

Yesterday, I shared a post on X that said founders should understand the startup game is long and when they see other founders struggling, their focus should be on learning lessons and not on gloating – directly or indirectly. Especially as they are in the arena. I have seen too many spectators of yesterday became the spectacle of today.

Enter the dense post.

[SIC] “But its weird how I only see OO speak out a times like this when its certain “openly” shady people involved”

But irony is not dead.

The author of that post, Jude Dike, runs a startup called Get Equity. Last year there was a report in Wee Tracker “GetEquity’s Game Of Fast And Loose Makes Founders And Funders Jittery” which attacked his and the startup’s credibility.

Guess who came out swinging for one of the “openly” shady people 

The author, Henry, received the rest of my opinions via WhatsApp.

Though we’ve engaged, I do not know Jude personally, and did not consult him before or after appearing to come to his defence. So why did I do so?

It is what I do. I bat for founders, especially when I believe they’ve been wronged.

And in cases where I am not “defending” founders, you see me absent in public conversations where they are being (rightfully) pummelled. 

But why?

Because, I am biased & supporting founders fits my agenda.

What agenda?

If you go to my about page, you see where I tried to articulate my agenda.

“My thinking goes thus; for the black man to be fully liberated, we’d need successful black nations. For that to happen, economic capital and political power will need to aggregate and be retained in the hands of the most enlightened black folks in black nations. I strongly believe Nigeria’s techosystem has the largest concentration of people that can make this liberation happen. My agenda is to help realise this as a participant, supporter and activist.”

Naive? Perhaps. But it what it is.

To me, founders are a special breed, the best of them see a problem and solve it. That something doesn’t exit is not enough to stop them. Every progress we see in society has been made because of those who decided to go against the grain. If the problem of Nigeria – or the black world would ever be solved, I strongly believe it will be by this special breed. So I’ll keep supporting them.

Does that mean founders are flawless and should be given carte blanche to do anything? Not at all. You never see me stopping any founder from being investigated or put on the front burner. I’ll publicly come to their defence if I think any attack is inaccurate or unfair, and in most cases, privately admonish and advise the founder on how I believe they should make amends for their errors. My biased self would rather scold in private and defend or ignore in public. And when they do right, I am happy to effusive in my public and private praise.

These days, the tide of my founder friendliness is waning. In recent years, we’ve seen, quite frankly, atrocious, irresponsible and in many cases, illegal behaviour by founders. Though I believe they have been enabled by careless investing, they are ultimately responsible for their actions. In speaking to a number of tier one African VCs and investors, I have told them I will soon be the champion of “founder unfriendliness”. 

Being founder friendly should not stop one from being firm, because if left to run amok, some of the self-destructive behavior can get to scale which works against my agenda. So there, I put my agenda first.

So you see me writing stuff like this

Whenever I support founders or players in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem, and they are effusive in their thanks, I tell them they are merely beneficiaries of my agenda. I have done this since October 2010 when I held the first startup meet in Lagos, and I plan to keep working towards it for as long as I can.

I am pleased to see more reporting being done by our tech media and as more light keeps being shone on such an important segment, the good tales get reported with the same glee as the bad, and the sum of it all leads to the progress of the techosystem.

On the net, good & responsible founders far surpass the bad or mislead eggs. So I am careful not to optimize my behaviour based off the few bad eggs at the expense of the good, least it affects me achieving my aims.

When I am done and gone, I don’t care if I am known as good or bad, but I want it to be clear to all that Oo tried hard to be consistent, and was mostly successful in being so.

1 thought on “He who comes to (get)equity must come with clean hands: Why it appears I’m irrationally founder friendly.

  1. Oo, thank you. We hear you. I hope more people adopt this manner of thinking, it’s a half full mentality, as opposed to outrightly dismissing those who are trying to do difficult things and making mistakes in the process.

    Nonetheless, Warren Buffett once said, “The first rule of an investment is don’t lose [money]. And the second rule of an investment is don’t forget the first rule. It will help if more founders have this at the back of their minds while investing.

    Cheers to brighter future for Nigeria and Sub-Saharan African startups.

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