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Young Tech Executive Michael Ugwu dramatically exits iROKING

BellaNaija.com

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Michael UgwuHe is one of Nigeria’s leading young tech executives and today, the web is buzzing about Michael Ugwu’s dramatic exit from iROKING.

iROKING is the sister company of  iROKOtv. While iROKOtv is the market leader in the Nollywood online streaming service segment, iROKING was tasked with creating a viable digital distribution model for Nigerian music. Both companies are owned by Jason Njoku‘s Iroko Partners.

Today we received this press release from Jessica Hope, Global Communications Officer of Iroko Partners.

***

We can confirm that Michael Ugwu is no longer the CEO of iROKING and has left the company. He was dismissed earlier this month with immediate effect for gross misconduct. It came to light that, whilst under contract and salary of iROKING, Michael Ugwu set up and launched his own digital music platform, in direct competition with iROKING. This is an unequivocal breach of the robust non-compete and confidentiality clause he signed when he joined the iROKO team. We will not be divulging any further details on the subject matter for legal reasons.

A number of the iROKING staff have also been dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct. This action, alongside the dismissal of Michael Ugwu, was taken by the iROKO Management team in order to protect the intellectual property and reputation of our online music platform, as well as our artists’ work.

As part of an organisation-wide restructure, we have decided to streamline the iROKING team based in Lagos, and have now redistributed a number of the core tasks across our global teams in London and New York. These changes have been made in order to make the strategic and day-to-day running of iROKING more effective and productive.

Those who left the company have been given a generous six weeks’ severance pay, which is 50% more than stated in their employee contracts.

iROKING, as one of Nigeria’s leading digital music platforms, continues to showcase some of the country’s most prolific and exciting artists. Since launch, we have recorded over 350 Million YouTube hits for our artists and we have over 1.1 Million users downloading tracks from our online and mobi platforms every month. We remain committed to our artists and our users and continue on our mission to support and develop digital distribution for Nigerian artists. We expect to announce a new CEO for iROKING in the coming months.

**

With the heated discussions on Brymo’s legal wrangling with Chocolate City, this one again brings the relevance of legal agreements within the Nigerian business and entertainment scenes to the forefront. What are your thoughts?

71 Comments

  1. Nneks

    October 31, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    The Black man is greedy that is the problem…(not all but yh)

  2. Aidan

    October 31, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Dramatic indeed!

  3. Leah

    October 31, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Well a contract is contract, and they get paid too? Good luck to him.

  4. natty

    October 31, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    My thoughts are Mr Ugwu saw a viable business opportunity and instead of doing the ethical thing and resigning to start his own business. he sat down there and was probably trying to increase the market share of his business to the detriment of Iroking.
    I am happy he is being taken to court, enough of all this rubbish!

    • Wale

      October 31, 2013 at 10:24 pm

      you dont know jack. its all propaganda. wait until the true story unfold.

    • Fashionista

      November 1, 2013 at 9:33 am

      How can you even spew such rubbish before hearing the other individuals part, kai, I fear you oh! Have you never heard that there are three sides to every story- both parties sides and the truth!

  5. http://legonaija.blogspot.co.uk

    October 31, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    NA WA OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  6. lola

    October 31, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Why didnt he just resign? I guess he wanted to eat his cake and have it.

  7. me2me

    October 31, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Nigerians! We should learn how to be loyal. Common CEO no be beans position

    • Wale

      October 31, 2013 at 10:34 pm

      I wonder when Nigerian will learn to be objective and not subjective. no wonder our ministers will keep buying 255m cars

  8. slice

    October 31, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    from Michael’s point of view, is it possible he didn’t even know he was in breach of the contract. they use the term robust to indicate that it should have been self explanatory but there’s a reason this non-compete agreements are not frequently upheld in a court of law. it’s not always clear what is really in competition. if you ask Michael, he’ll likely say what he started is nothing like IROking and irokotv people will say the new thing is pretty much the same. and the poor judge will be confused. The one thing the judge may not be confused about is that this statement they put out smells like slander to me. no need to tell the whole world it was “gross misconduct.” My first thought was that he stole their money but on further reading I realized it was some noncompete thing. they all need to calm down.

    • Naija Realist

      October 31, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      If the allegations are true, then competing against your own company (and thereby taking opportunities and customers from it) is exactly the same as if he “stole their money”!

    • slice

      October 31, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      in the legal world in which Jason and Jessica live, it is not the same and they should know that. Theft is one thing. competition is another. plus my point is a judge could determine that he was not in breach…which could expose them to a defamation for millions and he could win. just say you let the guy go or he’s moving on and leave it at that. the statement is undue and unnecessary exposure to a defamation lawsuit.

    • slice

      October 31, 2013 at 10:58 pm

      **defamation suit**

  9. #Naijapose.com

    October 31, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Bross wetin happen nau?

  10. Rexie A.

    Rexie A.

    October 31, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Damn. Did he not read his contract?

  11. Joan85

    October 31, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Too bad…doing business in Africa is hardly ever straightforward. 🙁

  12. tobi

    October 31, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    The music business in Nigeria is slowly evolving and they need to start paying more attention to legalities

  13. Concerned_Boyfriend

    October 31, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    @Slice, How can you not know you’re in breach of contract…Conflict of interest is conflict of interest!…There’s no other way to dice it. I do agree they made it seem as though he stole money. Regardless, he breached his contract and should face the music.

    • slice

      October 31, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      @CB, if it were that easy, there’d be no need for lawyers.

    • Naija Realist

      November 2, 2013 at 1:22 am

      @ Slice, first thing I did was to premise my post with “if
      the allegations are true”. And if it is, it is not only “gross
      misconduct” but (I repeat) it substantively amounts to stealing
      from the company. When you compete with your own company, you have
      stolen opportunities (and clientele) from the company. And if you
      do it on the company’s time (or even use the company’s computers or
      printers, etc), you have effectively STOLEN THE COMPANY’S MONEY!
      PS: And just btw (again, “if the allegations are true”), the truth
      is a VALID DEFENSE to a defamation lawsuit!

  14. Mariam

    October 31, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Lol Iroko Partners are real deal, heard IbakaTV CEO Was once a staff too before he started his own, But Mike you f*ckup sha! u 4 resign nah……………

  15. Okechukwu Ofili

    October 31, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    “It came to light that, whilst under contract and salary of iROKING”

    if I talk now they will start yapping me…lol

    …is it not what I said last week. If you sign an employee (Brymo) to a contract and he messes up or becomes a liability you break that contract and let the guy or girl go. No need holding onto a contract when that person is detrimental to your progress as an organization.

    Anyway moving right along…what can I say…swift move by Iroko. I don’t blame them…that’s some messed up stuff. The same thing happened to my friend, they set up a company in Nigeria and the guy running the company ran it to the ground and then left the company to join a rival company. Smh…

    • Idak

      November 1, 2013 at 8:30 am

      Chairman, you don come again!
      It is the employer’s prerogative to terminate your contract or hold you to it. Even the employer has a right to break the contract within stipulated grounds. You just can’t walk out of a contract because you want to. We cannot support the lawlessness that is holding our nation bound.
      If record companies go around cancelling every contract of artistes who misbehave, their will be no record company standing after 12 months. If you can’t hold people to the terms of their contract, what is the point of signing one?

    • nwanyi na aga aga

      November 1, 2013 at 10:03 am

      Thank you Idak. You always make sense…

    • AyoSpecie

      November 1, 2013 at 11:07 am

      That is called Porting.
      lol.
      How u doing bro?

    • ogeAdiro

      November 1, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      Nwanne, like say Brymo don settle you. I know say boys eyes dey red.

  16. Chic

    October 31, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    He probably thought he was dealing with yet another Nigerian businessman he could cheat forgetting that as Nigerian as Jason is he is also British to the core and his business sense and professionalism most probably are too and will not tolerate such behaviour.

  17. dlapikin

    October 31, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Hmm this usually happens when creative minds feel restrained. They branch out to do their own thing.

    • Dee

      November 1, 2013 at 7:07 pm

      I beg to differ, especially in Nigeria it is greed pure and simple. We are talking about our fellow country men and women who few years ago when it was cement business that was the in thing every nook and craney had a cement shop, today it is the make up artistes and event planners i.e we are too lazy to even use our minds; creative or otherwise but very easy to take other people’s ideas and try to make money off of it. The truth is I know many people who have not only started up businesses that are in direct competition with their current employers but taken clients away while still on the employers pay roll. Sadly, It is common practice in Nigeria. I don’t know about Micheal or whoever this is but I will not be surprised because like I said it is common practice and there is no law to hold anyone responsible.

  18. A.A

    October 31, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    and this why when i set up my business someday in africa, i wont hire a single fellow african. it will be 99 percent oyibo, even if they steal from me it wont hurt me as much

  19. Music expert

    October 31, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Guys please before you judge, allow him (Micheal) say his own side of the story…

  20. Beautiful

    October 31, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    This is the problem in Nigeria , PEOPLE !

  21. Funke

    October 31, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    techcabal.com/what-really-happened-at-iroking-developing-story/

    A better version of the story

  22. Sharon

    October 31, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    But seriously does Iroko TV Boss and creator think HE WILL NEVER GET COMPETITION IN A NATION LIKE NIGERIA, WELL IF HE THINKS THAT THEN HE HAS A LONG FIGHT ON HIS HANDS. EVEN APPLE HAVE COMPETITION. thats is just what africans do – copy copy and i know it might hurt if you innovated it, but come on now, everybody gotta eat too and buy their wifes evoque for birthday.

    iroko is boring now, too much buffering and ads. I prefer Ibakatv

    • Wale

      October 31, 2013 at 10:38 pm

      Ibakatv rocks. I left iroko for a better future. no regret

    • slice

      October 31, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      nollywoodlove (on youtube) which i believe is also owned by irokotv is great. it’s the website that has trouble with buffering…so annoying. I can’t. Ibakatv on youtube is great too. i think they recently had Last Flight to Abuja. Nice movie. I’ve not checked their website

    • Naija Realist

      October 31, 2013 at 10:48 pm

      He is not required to pay his own competition.

    • oyinda

      November 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      i love you

  23. Wale

    October 31, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    guys calm down. The real story will unfold. i know the iroko family very well. Bastain is a freaking racist and he usually stirs crisis during my days at iroko. Jason looks smart but he is not, when he is losing, he usually engages propaganda tool notsee this screen shot and tell me what you think.

    • Okechukwu's Babe

      November 1, 2013 at 10:02 am

      Come o Wale, aren’t you supposed to be like a CEO? It’s obvious you have way too much time on your hands to be commenting on Bella Naija. In other news, I don’t mind a job with IbakaTV paying me a robust salary.*wink wink*

    • London Babe

      November 1, 2013 at 11:46 am

      You are a big fool. The guy is about to marry a black
      chick. Do you even know what you are talking about?

  24. Sharon

    October 31, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    Uhmm wait ohh, is this michael dude single
    Looking at his neat fingers, i think he is a neat freak and ocd like me. Just what i need in a God fearing intelligent smart husband. He cute.

    • slice

      October 31, 2013 at 10:37 pm

      if he does like they say he did here, he might work on your marriage and another one at the same time. lol.

    • Naija Realist

      October 31, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      LMAO!

    • Iris

      November 1, 2013 at 5:13 am

      Laughing for days!

    • The Real Madam the Madam

      October 31, 2013 at 11:22 pm

      He got married a while ago and they featured his wedding on BN. I don’t know if he’s still married though.

  25. Sharon

    October 31, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Slic abeg commot for there, dont put sand in my gari okay 🙂

    • slice

      October 31, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      lol hian don’t say I didn’t warn you o 🙂

    • Sharon

      October 31, 2013 at 10:49 pm

      for better for worse, i like my TING like that joh, i like him

  26. Wale

    October 31, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    guys full story is out on nairaland.com/1500201/breaking-iroko-partners-scheme-retirement. you will also find screen shots of private conversation btw Bastain and Mike. Judge after you read that content

    • slice

      October 31, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      thanks. I read it. He stated in part
      “I would like to state for the record that a decision to wind down iROKING was taken before the iROKO management “apparently’” fired me. I was verbally asked to become COO of Spark Ltd which I summarily refused stating my intention to stay in the music space. It has been clear for some time that iROKO Partners wanted to exit the music space culminating in the winding down of iROKING so I am still fully trying to understand how I would set up a platform to compete with a platform that was to be “scrapped” according to Mr Jason Njoku.

      For the record I would like to see physical evidence of the digital platform I have set up. A copy of the apparent companies registration will suffice. I also strongly suggest to the management of iROKO Partners that rather than sending out press releases and writing blog posts on their personal blogs they should first tidy their house and/or pursue serious legal action.

      If iROKO Partners wishes to pursue legal actions I suggest they do such or I will see this is flagrant defamation of character.”

      And you know what, Michael may be right about that defamation of character thing

  27. Antik

    October 31, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Micheal responds…..see post

  28. Sharon

    October 31, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Either Jason should be very scared cos Michael seems highly smart and will succeed on his own nonetheless in whatever venture he gets into. Jason should continue to keep the oyibo manby his side cos if he leaves too then he is totally fcked.

    The fact that he has let that many people exit at the same time i swear that is so not a good look for his company. Unless he has real strong backup. All the many he let go can gang up on him just for the spite of it.

    I STILL THINK HE SHOULD NEVER HAVE AIRED ALL THIS INFO OUT AND SO EARLY. YOUR PUBLICIST NA WASH, YOU DID NOT OWE THE PUBLIC ANY EXPLANATION AND EVEN IF YOU COULDA SIMPLY SAID “AT THIS TIME MR OGWU IS NOT LONGER WITH US” simple, all this details your poured out was so not necessary, very unprofessional in my opinion.

    Do you know how man people Microsoft, Dell and especially Apple let go and do you think this is how they did it. #BushCompany

    Ibakatv, i hope you are learning and not be that crass like Iroko. Buy some Management, Leadership books from the Top Gurus of Top 100 Successful Companies. Iroko has a lot to learn.

    • Fashionista

      November 1, 2013 at 9:36 am

      I am sooooo with you, did we need to know all this, it is a private company, treat your matters as such. Why do we need to be knowing who and how many employees you sacked and what went wrong! If you held public office now, ehen, jokers!

  29. asgrl

    October 31, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    If Jason Njoku says on his blog

    “Coming off Q3 2013 – our best quarter ever, from the outside it may not make too much sense: why one would have to retire 16.4% of my very loyal staff. There is constant debate and equilibrium at play amongst all early stage startups. The question is simple. What is the right size of the company?”

    How come suddenly Michael Ugwu is disloyal? I’m confused by the double speak….

  30. Sharon

    October 31, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    hia
    see how they are tarnishing this fine noble mans reputation
    Well spoken and highly intelligent dude
    youtube.com/watch?v=vK3ZFjwtsfQ

    • asgrl

      October 31, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      All this voltroning you are doing. Shey you know he still won’t kpansh you with even the tip.

    • Jo!

      November 1, 2013 at 9:27 am

      Yeeeeeeeeee!!!!! I haf die oooooo, lmaoooooooooo

  31. MARY R. O

    October 31, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    from THE HORSES OWN MOUTH – JASON SPEAKS
    jason.com.ng/post/64306404376/today-i-had-to-retire-13-people

    • dlapikin

      November 1, 2013 at 12:16 am

      Mary Remy is that you?

  32. zola

    November 1, 2013 at 4:59 am

    This is being blown out of the ordinary if u ask me. Iroko ll be stupid 2 take him 2 court. Dont know y I ve a feeling this new “supposed” venture has very little to do with Iroking

  33. Idak

    November 1, 2013 at 8:24 am

    The little respect I had for this Iroko lad has diminished on account of this twitter war. This is no way to run a business, unless the business model is twitter dependent.

  34. Adaeze

    November 1, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I don’t agree with the IROKO team for dissing this guy in this manner! Do you know what dis means? They’ve ruined him already cos he might not be able to get a job elsewhere cos of this! Iroko pple shud apologize immediately..

  35. remi

    November 1, 2013 at 10:34 am

    One word DUMB i feel CEO of iroko is scared mike will make it so he wants to tarnish his image, u say u retired ppl and will recommend them to any coy now you say he formed a rival coy, if you are right y not sue him y come on social media and rant looking for attention

  36. chioma

    November 1, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Jason is an immature dude who lucked out, first time I heard speak it all made sense to me why he hsd to hire smarter ppl on his camp. Cos thats the only way to look good. Michael seems very intelligent. He will be fine. Jason is definitely very intumudated by Michael s intelligence

    • Dee

      November 1, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      Really??? It takes a smart guy to know his strengths and weaknesses, and your statement just proved that said Jason is very smart. If your statement is true then he would have hired people dumber than he is or just as dumb obviously he isn’t since he hired “smart” people like Mike as you put it. I don’t know any of these people but don’t like unfair judgment or name calling because you don’t like or like one member of the party.

  37. Mimi

    November 1, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    I lost all respect for Jason and his crew for the way the handled this. Like someone said, do you know how many times Steve Jobs had to let people from Apple go, and when he did – do you think this is how he did it. This is so unprofessional. Extremely utterly unprofessional. You have just shot your self in the foot, you think you may be tarnishing dudes reputation but from what i see i will NEVER want to work with you even if the pay was a million dollars. Tufiakwa!!!!!! – What kind of company is this. You dont know how to communicate???? You definately need some leadership and management books from the worlds top successful companies and learn a thing or two,You have a lot to learn Jason – you and your whole team who released this nonsensical press release. There are so many ways you coulda done this. This is Extremely Utterly Unprofessional and Tacky to say the least.

  38. the mane captain (healthy hair & skin tips)

    November 1, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    this is similar to last week’s episode on “The Good Wife”
    talk about conflict of interest.
    themanecaptain.blogspot.ca

  39. Chris

    December 3, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Well, this is business. Ask Mark Z ( facebook) or any successful CEO, you will have to navigate through “sharks” to be successful. Managing people and your intellectual property is hard. People will betray you along the line. You will step on toes. People will talk about you. Bottom line: maximize your “pluses” and minimizes your loses. Good luck to both of them-I suppose.

  40. always happy

    December 4, 2013 at 5:07 am

    na today…… abeg leave matter this is how they riding dirty dirty in Naija….. but one thing or fever wey none of y’all riders can run from is beautiful KARMA…. #becareful whose agege bread you are yanking out of their hands.

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