The CEO of Mocality, a Kenyan business directory startup, took to the Internet today to vent about Google poaching clients after discovering the search engine accessed his company’s database without permission to obtain sensitive sales lead information.
In the “Google, what were you thinking?” blogpost, Stefan Magdalinski claimed Getting Kenyan Business Online, a Google-backed initiative that offers small businesses free websites for one year, systematically accessed Mocality’s database to leach information. The CEO said the operatives harvested sales lead information to contact Mocality customers and pitch Google’s alternative service.
Magdalinski, after noticing the breach of security, set up a sting operation. He swapped a few clients phone numbers listed in the database with Mocality’s own call center phone numbers, and then waited patiently. Magdalinski said he was able to record calls from Google operatives in both Kenya and India. GKBO said it had a partnership with Mocality during its sales pitches, but as Magdalinski pointed out, no such partnership exists…
“As of January 11th, nearly 30% of our database has apparently been contacted,” wrote the Mocality CEO in a blogpost. “We are in the business of creating local Kenyan content that Google can sell their adwords against. Google isn’t just scalping us, they’re also scalping every Kenyan who has participated in our program.”
Europe and Emerging Markets Product and Engineering Vice President Nelson Mattos released a statement through Google + regarding the poaching scandal:
“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.”
The United Nation’s Internet Usage and Telecommunications Report listed Kenya’s Internet penetration at 9.7-percent in 2010, which is up from 8.6-percent in 2009.