Industry Moves

Why Paga hired founding engineers of a startup its CEO invested in

December 07, 2018 · 3 min read
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On the 4th of December 2018, Paga CEO, Tayo Oviosu announced that the payments company is finally getting a Nigerian-based engineering team.

Unknown to many people, Paga had always handled its engineering and technical operations with a 25-person Ethiopian-based team. But this is about to change soon.


Suggested Read: Why Paga’s technology is built and managed in Ethiopia


When Techpoint spoke with the company in September on account of the Ethiopian team it hinted at hiring a Nigerian team.

At the time, Jay Alabraba co-founder of Pagatech Limited, parent company of Paga, and Daniel Oparison, Head, Brand Strategy & Customer Experience confirmed this.

Daniel said the new team was training in Ethiopia. Tayo eventually unveiled them in his announcement.

According to his Medium post:

I am excited to announce that Bayo Puddicombe and Zubair Abubakar, co-founders of ChopUp, along with Daniel Micah have joined Paga’s Product Development team as our first Nigerian based engineers (we have other Nigerian engineers on the team but not based in Lagos).

ChopUp, the startup that produced the 3 new Paga hires, is a Nigerian company that makes African games and has had a few hits over the years. Tayo Oviosu has always been an open investor in the company.

The new Paga engineers are all literally listed on the ChopUp website as “The A-Team”.

From Tayo Oviosu’s Medium page; with “The A-Team”. L-R: Zubair Abubakar, Daniel Micah and Bayo Puddicombe

What then happens to ChopUp if all its generals are moving on to Paga?

It appears to point to one conclusion; ChopUp failed or is failing, and Tayo saved it in what is the best form of a rescue operation.

Taking to Twitter, the Paga CEO explained what happened:

“It is a community dev moment. But to be clear, ChopUp continues to sell its games & on the app stores but the team has shut down new dev & moved on. Important to note they went through the same interview process any engineer would at Paga & due to my conflict I wasn’t involved,” the tweet read.

In a phone conversation with Techpoint, ChopUp co-founder Zubair Abubakar insisted that ChopUp is still very much alive.

“ChopUp is currently on autopilot. Our games are still live on app stores and distribution is solid.”

According to him, the team will still be in charge of engineering work and updates on all ChopUp products.

“We’ll do the work on a part-time basis, mostly weekends.”

Would this decision have anything to do with the fact that the game development industry in Nigeria is still in its infancy?


Suggested Read: Where does the Nigerian gaming industry stand?


“Yes, absolutely!” Zubair says.

“We (ChopUp) have been at this for 6 or 7 years and it just got to a point where we realised we have put a lot into the industry. And that particular industry still needs a lot of time to catch up, so we decided to put it on a part-time basis and watch the market.”

Is this a case of Tayo swooping in to save ChopUp, a company he invested in that was starting to fail?

“No it isn’t” Zubair laughs.

“I think it is was just a coincidence that we were available at the time Paga needed an engineering team in Nigeria. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement for both parties. If it was not Paga, we still would have gone elsewhere.”

This may also be a good signal that the budding ecosystem in Nigeria is maturing to a point where help can come from within.

Victor Ekwealor

Victor Ekwealor

Author

tech. media. startups. africa. vc | Twitter: @victor_ekwealor

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