iROKO, Kasuwa, Sabunta, Truspot, and Spinlet. Talent War Ignited On Nigerian Tech Scene

Editor’s Note: Hey @SeyiTaylor and @_yemia this is the story you asked for; and like ‘we‘ replied via twitter, do feel free to use the Tip Us feature, and we promise to act on every tip that is sent – that goes for all our readers too. We will really appreciate it. Thanks. Now to the issue – Talent War on the Nigeria Tech Scene.

Remember 2007, when Etisalat opened shop in Nigeria? Even if it seems a long time ago, one thing I cannot forget was the transfer of talent from other telecom operators like MTN, Glo and Airtel (Zain at the time) to Etisalat. I will want to assume that Etisalat is the richest telecom operator in Nigeria, and that means a lot of revenue allocated at attracting the best talents in the industry. Etisalat offered up to three times the salaries and did get a lot of talent transfer in a couple of weeks.

Looks like it’s happening again – Deja Vu! This time around, it is Rocket Internet’s Sabunta and Kasuwa, allegedly on a hiring spree and luring talent from other tech companies and startups. According to a tweet by @SeyiTaylor, he quoted Jason Njoku, Founder and CEO of iROKO Partners saying: ‘Sabunta and Kasuwa have been scanning iROKO staff on Linkedin and offering them jobs at x2-3 salary what iROKO them‘.

Sabunta was also at the University of Lagos yesterday, with the aim of attracting top talent students for jobs. Traditionally it’s the banks, ‘big’ consulting firms, and oil companies that go to tertiary institutions, but now a tech company joins in. This is definitely a trend to watch out for. Soon enough, student in junior and senior year at the universities will start to secure tech jobs – as long as they exhibit the potential and possess the talent been sought after.

Innovation – the fire for the talent war smoke

Make no mistake this is not exclusively a Nigerian thing. In fact in silicon valley, it goes up a notch from talent war to perk war. That’s where one tech company offers benefits like transportation, laundry, travel allowance, and perhaps a soda vending machine that gives coke in any color you want. So, this is just the beginning for us in Nigeria.

However, one good thing from this is that the reason for talent war (and perk war, in the near future) is the presence of innovation. I am not saying ‘big bucks’ have no role in the whole drama, but underneath it all, it is the presence of innovation and the need to make an enterprise out of it, that actually ignite talent wars.¬†( I want to believe this and do hope I am right)

When the dust settles…

It would be unfair, if I leave out this part – the inevitable aftermath of talent war. After Etisalat had gotten all the talent it thought it wanted, an in-house selection process followed. It had to let the rest go home – and not back to the MTN, Airtel or Glo office, even if it meant having some vacancies unfilled. Sometimes you may be left hanging, so think ‘job security’ when making that move.

If you are wondering why Truspot and Spinlet are in the title, it is because the former is opening its base in Nigeria, and is on the look out for talent – mobile and web developers, and the latter just snatched one of our contributors – perhaps an offer too good to turn down.

Alea jacta est!

Update 19.07.2012 : I have taken out the screen shot of the Facebook update made by Jason Njoku as it was made in a ‘private group’ and thus not up for share. Sincere apologies to all at the Silicon Africa Facebook ¬†group.