, 13 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Apparently Safaricom has quietly collapsed its innovation unit Safaricom Alpha back into the mainstream company and a good number of the team has already departed

Alpha was struggling to build a payments integrated messenger app 😆/n
Safaricom alpha was trying to innovate a new product for its mother company Safaricom

The product was a messaging app, Bonga chat, integrated with Mpesa so you could send messages and money (think Venmo, Wechat) /1
“one of the innovation center’s first products “as a messenger solution with full payment integration to better support the kind of social patterns that our customers are already using informally.” techcrunch.com/2017/10/18/saf… /3
It was launched on October 2017. A little too late if you ask me

I criticized the project in the past (check my twitter history) b/c I thought it was dumb to try build another social network (messenger) after WhatsApp/Facebook/telegram/Instagram /4
I think the company made a lot of assumptions about what it takes to build a Social Network

But they went ahead anyways

Got swanky offices
Hired a team and a new executive to lead the project

Safaricom Chief Innovation Officer, Kamal Bhattacharya /5
6 months after launch, Alphas first product was live

On April 30th, 2018 Tech crunch wrote

Safaricom rolls out Bonga social networking platform to augment M-Pesa /6

This is how Bonga supposedly
It was rolled out to a group of 600 beta testers /7
I’m not sure if the public ever got a chance to try the app

I think it’s been limited to beta testers ever since?

Very small group of people actually use it

It struggled to take off

Was constantly plagued by bugs and fixes

Chief Innovation Officer didn’t last long

Guy quit 12 months into his job

“Safaricom Head of Innovation Lab, Kamal Bhattacharya has left the company in what colleagues call suspicious circumstances, few months after being recruited.” /9

That was the beginning of a downward spiral

Senior employees left
Other employees left

August 2019 via techweez

“Another blow to Safaricom Alpha as Senior Employee Leaves” /10
The project clearly had problems

In May 2019 , Safaricom Bonga Chat was renamed to “Zwuup!”

Reason cited for name change was b/c customers confused Bonga for Bonga points (Safaricom’s loyalty rewards program) /11
What the hell is “Zwuup!” ?

😆 Joke is the year

Does this sound like a project that was flourishing?! /12
Bure kabisa!

24 months later and the project is now being shut down


Im not surprised. All the signs were there for us to see /13
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