You remember the issue of Google Kenya doing the opposite of what their tagline is “Don’t be evil”? Yes, accessing Mocality’s database and attempting to sell competing product to their business owners. Google promised to carry out investigation and take appropriate measures. Here is the statement at the time from Google’s Nelson Mattos, Vice-President for Product and Engineering, Europe and Emerging Markets:
We were mortified to learn that a team of people working on a Google project improperly used Mocality’s data and misrepresented our relationship with Mocality to encourage customers to create new websites. We’ve already unreservedly apologised to Mocality. We’re still investigating exactly how this happened, and as soon as we have all the facts, we’ll be taking the appropriate action with the people involved.
My gut feeling at the time was that someone from Google Kenya will be fired and especially the Google Kenya country Manager and may be others. When I attended Google+ launch in Kenya late last year, I asked Google country Manager Olga Arara about Android stats in Kenya and Africa. She declined to give me the stats saying that the stats are only given from their Head Quarters. I had the same answer from Dennis Gikunda when I met him on another forum. But there was something which Ms Olga Arara was willing to talk about. The stats about the Google Kenya Program Getting Kenyan Businesses Online (GKBO). She talked of how well the project was doing at that point, they had registered 11,000 Kenyan Businesses. That was a clear indication that Getting Kenyan Businesses Online (GKBO) was a project started by Kenyan Google office and was not tied to Google HQ. That means that the operations and marketing were purely designed and executed by Google Kenya. I don’t see a way that whoever was calling Mocality clients from India could have done it without the Google Kenya knowledge. May be not the whole office but at least somebody high enough must have known what was going on.
In terms of the overall success of Google, the Kenyan operation is small drop on the sea but Google and other major world tech players are now looking at Africa keenly and especially Kenya. My thoughts at the time and now is that Google Kenya Managers overplayed their hands in their effort to make GKBO success and in the process was hoping to impress the HQ. Well if that was the case Mocality got them with their hands on the cheese.
On Friday Google’s Nelson Matto wrote the following on his Google+ page:
We’ve concluded our investigation into the serious allegations about our use of data from Mocality’s website in Kenya. We’re very sorry this happened. We’ve taken appropriate action with the people involved and made changes in our operations to ensure this doesn’t occur again.