- Seun Osewa, Nairaland ‘Playing Too Small’
Nairaland is arguably the biggest African forum and one of the largest online forums in the world, with over 3.2 million topics posted till date, and a preferable platform for about 1.7 million users. It sits atop most African online businesses, this includes Linda Ikeja’s blog, the self-acclaimed Africa’s richest blogger.
However, Nairaland has failed to leverage on its young and enthusiastic diverse community to chart a new course for the seemingly young Nigeria’s developing tech-industry. Ranked 1,000 most visited websites in the world and 8th in Nigeria, Seun Osewa, the CEO and found of Nairaland has not just relegated Nairaland to an ordinary sole proprietor business, but also failed to capitalize on its voluminous database that dated back to 2005, and doubled as the most ‘unique’ unused Nigerian search engine.
Unique in the sense that Nairaland’s database comprises of contents from people that take pride in telling their stories, everyday stories and global happenings through unconventional reporting style, these individuals don’t just tell stories, they validate them with pictures, videos and sometimes links to substantiate their experience during the occurrence as they are sometimes eye witnesses.
Accordingly, these stories alert the authorities, corporations, stakeholders, etc. to the urgency of the matter, therefore, creating an enabling platform for socio-consciousness and community police across the Nigerian Federation. While, also serving as a meeting point for like-minded people.
But over time, Nairaland has been miss-represented or presented as an ordinary forum that can’t create real job, even by its founder. This misconception has limited his vision for Africa’s largest social news aggregation and discussion website.
According to a Seun Osewa comment, after Mark Zuckerberg commends Jobberman Founders “The Jobberman founders deserve to be commended by Zuckerberg because they created a real business employing lots and lots of people and they have an inspiring story that is quite similar to Zuckerberg’s story. I am just a lone geek who runs a web forum. There’s no comparison.”
The quote above gives an insight into his understanding of ‘Nairaland’ as a business. For instance, Reddit is to the U.S, what Nairaland is to Nigeria, but while Reddit has been able to leverage its diverse audience for growth and currently valued at $500 million, with the possibility of going public in 2017. Nairaland is still struggling with the right revenue model and was forced to drop its ads rates by about 40 percent within two years.
Nairaland was founded a mouth before Reddit Inc. was created in April 2005.
This is an indication that advertisers are wary of the platform. The question is how so? Because this is a website that attracts more than 29 million visitors and 170 million page views per month. The answer is simple ‘playing too small’.
Playing Too Small
Perhaps, Linda Ikeji is a perfect example and she is not a programmer, but knows what she wants and constantly searching for talents to help bring her vision to life. This forward thinking has translated into multiple businesses and job creation. While, Nairaland has a broader database built around eyewitness reporting, social networking with a series of wedding testimonies and enthusiastic users, but yet to capitalize on it, Linda Ikeji launched a similar product three weeks ago and already has 150,000 users, almost 10 percent of Nairaland current users. In fact, she was approached by some investors willing and ready to invest as much as $2 million (₦940,000,000) in Linda Ikeji Social this week, a start-up of three weeks. Pushing the limit!
Pushing the limit
Throughout the year, Nairaland has remained the same without a single change or new product. While tech companies are constantly launching new products to retain old users and attract new ones, Nairaland continued to service the same old users with multiple accounts. The truth is Nairaland needs more than Seun Osewa at this stage to maximize its potential, especially in terms of innovation and creativity. It is just a lot for one person.
Nairaland is the first brand in its category with no known face, even the moderators do not know. While, its founder has right to his privacy, users and stakeholders need to know what Nairaland mission and vision are and how Nairaland as a platform can impact their lives. So, someone that shares those values needs to be the brand ambassador and constantly represent Nairaland as a brand. This, will not just introduce nairaland to new users, but strengthen its position as a true brand.