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Obituaries

Fahim Saleh: Profile of dead Gokada Founder

As a teenager, Fahim self-schooled himself on coding and started developing apps.

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Gokada Founder Fahim Saleh murdered in New York apartment

The news of Fahim Saleh’s tragic death has struck raw nerves across several parts of the world. Not only is the techpreneur known for his exploits in the African techspace, his name is now associated with innovation, the same innovation he once said is all about shortening processes and eliminating middlemen.  

Born in Saudi Arabia to Bangladeshi parents, Fahim lived with his family in the Middle East for a while before they started moving around. They eventually settled in New York as immigrants. It was here, in New York, that he had his education. As a child, he would spend hours in hiding playing video games. This soon spurred his interest in technology.  

Fahim built his first websiteSalehfamily.com before he turned 15, and it was hosted on AOL Hometown. When his parents threw family parties, his father would encourage relatives to visit the website. This ‘marketing strategy’ helped the young boy to garner an average of five unique visitors to his website on a monthly. Although this was laughable, Fahim was very encouraged. 

Quite naughty as a youngster, young Fahim would often go out to play and end up using rocks to scratch people’s cars. He recalled that his moment of awakening came when his actions caused his parents to spend one-third of the family savings, to fix one of the damaged cars.  

READ MORE: How tech is disrupting Nigeria’s transport ecosystem – part 2

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 “I remember that night vividly; my Mom was crying because our only option would be to move back to Bangladesh. Luckily, the next day my Dad got an offer from a university to teach computer science, he later recalled. 

Even then, Fahim decided that he needed to start making some money for himself. As a teenager, Fahim self-schooled himself on coding and started developing apps. He was quite a boisterous and lively teenager, and apps soon became a means of expressing this. He built teen-hangout.com, at age 15, a social network which many have now described as “too-early-for-its-time”.  

He made some pennies from it, enough to encourage his efforts. He would ask his friends to publish articles on it, and it soon became a community-oriented blogging forum, allowing him to place ads and generate $2-$3 a month through his trial and error approach.  

“That showed promise that it could actually be successful and I could make money off this” he later said. 

His first company in high school generated over one million dollars in revenue. He created websites targeted at the young demographics such as AIMdude.com, iconfun.com, msndollz.com, icondude.com, and was generating $100k-$150k in profit from such websites. One of his websites was later sold on eBay for $2,000.  

READ ALSO: Plentywaka provides same day delivery for small businesses in Lagos

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“I would stay up super late, work on it and would be worried my Dad would catch me. He thought it would hinder my schoolwork, which it didn’t. Then, I got my first paycheck from Google for $500 as a teenager and showed it to my Dad. He was like, ‘Okay, let’s open an account,” Saleh recounted in an blog post 

After college, he taught himself how to program and started KickBack Apps, garnering over twenty-million downloads. By the time he graduated from Bentley University in Waltham, Massachussettswhere he studied Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), he created an app – PrankDial, for the purpose of making prank telephone calls. A recent tweet showed that the app had successfully executed over 300 million prank calls since 2010 

He realised early that for busy commercial cities in the world, where workers were always in a hurry to get to work, that a bike hailing service would bring some sort of ease into the system, and this fuelled his interest in starting a bike-hailing service or a motorcycle taxi.  

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In 2015, he co-founded Pathao with Hussain M Elius and Shifat Adnannow said to be the largest bike-hailing service in Dhaka Bangladesh The company later pivoted into logistics and food deliveries, and is valued to be worth over $100 million. Encouraged by the success of the company, Saleh went solo and founded Gokada.  

Gokada started operating in Lagos (arguably the busiest state in Nigeria) in 2017 and raised $5.3 million in venture capital in June 2019. This sum, Saleh had said, would help the company expand its fleet and offer goods and services to its drivers.  

The company raised even more funding in subsequent rounds and was set to break even by January 2020, until the Lagos state government ban of bike hailing across thousands of roads in the state, affected its operations.   

His LinkedIn profile reveals that the 33-year-old has over 15 years entrepreurial experience dating back to high school. Fahim is also an active investor in emerging markets, investing first in Colombia’s largest motorcycle ridesharing company – Picap, recently valued at $15 million. 

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A sad end! 

Late Tuesday afternoon (New York time), the dismembered body of a young man was found in luxury apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.  

Officials later confirmed this body as belonging to that of the 33-year old Saleh.  

READ ALSO: Meet Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, Nigeria’s queen of recycling and environmental sustainability

The homicide investigations are still on, but the Police Department says that they are yet to find any motive for the gruesome murder of techpreneur, and dismembering the body with an electric saw.  

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The building was a 10-story, glass-and-brick structure at 265 East Houston Street near Suffolk Street, with condos in the area estimated to fall within an asking price range of $2 million to $2.5 million. Most of the residents are said to be well-off professionals in their 30s and 40s. 

Saleh clearly had no idea about what was coming his way, and had even tweeted in June “Have a very good feeling about 2020”. 

Whatever else this is, it represents a sad end for a man who changed the bike-hailing service across several locations and countries. He had once said in an interview that he had plans of creating a club where bike riders could relax after work.  

READ ALSO: Alphabet’s Loon launches solar-powered internet balloons in Kenya 

We’re going to start a Gokada club in each of the cities with a restaurant where drivers can relax, and we’ll experiment with a Gokada Shop, where drivers can get things they need on a regular basis, such as plantains, yams and rice,” he had said.  

According to friends, his was a simple lifestyle. He ran every morning, kept a busy schedule of meetings, collected tech gadgets and lived alone with Laila, his little dog.  

His social media postings were usually entrepreneurial, tech-inclined or about his brands, and his last tweet was a survey to find out how trustworthy the Gokada brand is in comparison to other brands. 

 

 

Ruth Okwumbu has a MSc. and BSc. in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Delta state university respectively. Prior to her role as analyst at Nairametrics, she had a progressive six year writing career. As a Business Analyst with Narametrics, she focuses on profiles of top business executives, founders, startups and the drama surrounding their successes and challenges. You may contact her via [email protected]

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Obituaries

NNPC announces sudden death of former Group Managing Director

Dr Dawha was the 16th GMD of the state oil giant.

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has announced the sudden death of its former Group Managing Director, Dr Joseph Thlama Dawha. He passed away after a brief illness.

His death was confirmed in a press statement that was signed by NNPC’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr Kennie Obateru, on Monday, August 3, 2020.

The statement noted that the Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, expressed shock over the sudden death of Dr Dawha, who was the 16th GMD of the state-owned oil giant. According to him, the NNPC family seriously mourned the death of the former GMD, who led the corporation from August 1, 2014, to August 4, 2015, during the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

READ ALSO: Shell remits $6.3bn to Nigerian Government and agencies

NNPC in the press statement, said, “The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) regrets to announce the demise of its former Group Managing Director (GMD), Dr. Joseph Thlama Dawha. Dr Dawha died after a brief illness, NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr Kennie Obateru stated in a release today.

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“The release said NNPC Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari, expressed shock over the sudden death of Dr Dawha who was the 16th Group Managing Director of the corporation,’’ the NNPC said.

Mele Kyari also noted that Dawha provided astute leadership and made immense contributions to the progress of the corporation. He described Dr. Dawha’s death as a great loss not only to NNPC but also to Nigeria as a whole.

READ ALSO: Chairman of NDDC probe committee on N40 billion corruption allegation steps aside

Recall that just two months ago, Nairametrics reported about the death of the immediate past GMD of the NNPC, Dr Maikantu Baru, who died at a hospital in Abuja after a brief illness. Baru, who was the 18th Group Managing Director of the corporation, and was in office between July 4, 2016, to July 7, 2019.

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Obituaries

Saleh’s murder: Prosecutors discover video of ex-PA buying electric saw

Tyrese Haspel was arraigned before a New York court, on the charge of the second-degree murder.

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murder of Gokada founder, Fahim Saleh

As investigations continue into the gruesome murder of Gokada founder, Fahim Saleh, the Manhattan prosecutors have found  a video of the suspect purchasing an electric saw.

According to the WallStreet Journal, the video surveillance recovered from a hardware store shows a man (identified as Haspil) purchasing the electric saw and cleaning supplies found near the body at the scene of the murder.

The accused has not issued a plea in the case yet, but his Legal Aid attorney Sam Roberts, said: “there is much more to the narrative than the accusations, an arrest by the police, and a charge by the district attorney.”

Tyrese Haspel was arraigned before a New York court, Saturday night, on the charge of the second degree of Fahim Saleh, founder of Gokada, whose lifeless and dismembered body was found in his apartment during the week.

Haspil’s next court appearance is slated for August 17.

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(READ MORE:Uber expands food delivery business in a $2.65 billion acquisition)

The murder

Nairametrics earlier reported that the surveillance video in the seventh-floor apartment where Saleh died showed a man dressed in black and wearing a mask enters the elevator with Mr. Saleh, and shortly after, Saleh exited an elevator that leads directly into the full-floor, two-bedroom apartment, closely followed by the masked person.

Investigators recovered a security video showing that Saleh fell to the floor after being shocked by a stun gun or a taser.

A woman told investigators that she recognized the person using the Taser in the video as Mr. Haspil, according to the criminal complaint, although the woman’s identity was withheld.

Officials arrived the scene to find Saleh’s clothed torso, bags containing a head and arms, and an electric saw in the living room of his apartment on the Lower East Side, police said.

The court papers presented by the prosecutors have it that Saleh was stabbed five times in the neck and torso and had wounds on his arm and left hand. The saw was used to dismember his body just below the knees, at both shoulders and the neck.

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READ MORE: ByteDance, Tiktok’s parent company, now worth over $100 billion

Suspected motive

According to the Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison, the 21-year old Tyrese Haspil was an executive assistant of the deceased Saleh and handled his financial and personal matters

From the findings, he owed his boss a lot of money, and this supports suspicions that money could have been the motive behind the crime, although Rodney did not give details.

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After the murder, Saleh’s body was dismembered and packaged in bags, with the electric saw still plugged into an outlet in the apartment, causing the police to suggest that the murderer may have been interrupted in his actions of trying to dispose the body.

READ ALSO: Nigerian automaker raises $9 million despite protest against electric car in Nigeria

Backstory 

Fahim Saleh was a venture capitalist and entrepreneur, popularly known for his tech innovations in developing countries.

He founded Gokada, Nigeria’s first bike-hailing service, in 2018.

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His lifeless body was found in his apartment on Tuesday after his relative called the 911 service. Since then, investigations have been on to find Saleh’s killer. Police believe that the relative, a cousin, may have interrupted the intruder before the killer fled out a back exit.

Haspil was arrested on Friday in connection to the murder.

 

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Obituaries

Gokada founder’s Personal Assistant arrested for his murder

His personal assistant is expected to be charged with second-degree murder and other crimes. 

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Gokada Founder Fahim Saleh murdered in New York apartment, Saleh’s murder: Prosecutors discover video of ex-PA buying electric saw

The Personal Assistant to the Gokada’s founderFahim Saleh has been arrested by authorities relating to the gruesome murder of the tech founder. 

On Tuesday, Mr Saleh’s dismembered body was found by his sister in his New York apartment, also found at the scene was an electric saw believed to have been used to dismember his body. 

His personal assistant, Tyrese Devon Haspil, 21, was arrested and will be charged to court, as authorities believe he killed Saleh after Saleh discovered he stole tens of thousands from him. 

However, Mr Saleh did not report the theft to the police and created a repayment plan for the cash to be returned. 

Police also announced that Saleh was killed a day before the body was found on Tuesday. The suspect also used Saleh’s credit cards to pay for cleaning equipment to sanitize the crime scene. 

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Police believe he used a taser to paralyze Saleh before stabbing him after following him to his apartment dressed in a black three-piece suit. 

Police also believe his work in dismembering Saleh’s body was stopped when Saleh’s sister arrived the apartment forcing him to flee. 

His personal assistant is expected to be charged with second-degree murder and other crimes. 

Fahim Saleh is the son of Bangladeshi immigrants and was born in Saudi Arabia before his family settled in New York. He built PranDial after graduating from Bentley University. 

He also founded bike hailing startup Gokada which operated in Nigeria and raised $12.4 million according to Crunchbase. 

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