iROKO Partners started in London in December 2010, when Jason Njoku couldn’t find any Nollywood movies online for his mother. London to iROKO is home. But the firm is coming back home fully in Africa. iROKO has shut down its London offices to totally focus on Africa.
In a blog post, Jason Njoku the CEO & Co-founder iROKO Partners said iROKOtv will continue sinking its claws in Johanessburg, open up an office in Nairobi in the near future and focus on customer acquisition and subscriber growth on the continent. This will give the firm Lagos, Johannesburg and Nairobi, on a continent where the future of iROKO is and with less than 20% of the firm’s team in New York.
Njoku said,”To truly prepare the company for an Africa focused future I decided to re-align the company itself. In spirit and in reality. I decided to close the London office. This wasn’t easy. I was born and bred in London. The parent company for iROKO is a UK entity,” said Njoku. “My mother and siblings are all in London. When I had my first son last summer, we spent the best part of 4 months in London. Some of our longest serving employees were based out of London.”
According to him, he felt the overbalance when he was on his regular office tours to his NY, London, Johannesburg offices and so began his shifting of iROKOtv’s energies away from London to Africa.
“I can only really see Africa and specifically Nigeria as our big markets. I am trying to sign up 1M subscribers in the next 6 years. Ambitious, yes. Impossible? Not really. So why the hell are we overbalanced to a Western audience? The only reason we are large outside of Nigeria is because of terrible internet penetration on the continent. But that will change.” Njoku says hopefully.
iROKO’s 12 employees in London have not been let go just like that. They were given options, following due process according to Njoku. Some have moved to Lagos to further their careers, some have moved on to their own gigs.
The shift wasn’t because there were no viewers but a need to focus around an African future rather than Europe, which was iROKOtv’s largest viewer block after North America.
This shift comes days after the firm killed its freemium, ad-supported steaming service to iROKOtv PLUS for Everyone, a subscription only service with over 10,000 hours of Nollywood minus adverts across 140 countries. With its $8 million round from Tiger Global, Kinnevik and Rise Capital bringing the total to some $21 million with a near $50 million valuation, the firm is bullish despite competition from the likes of Afrinolly, Dobox, YouTube and AfricaMagicGo.
To show its readiness to go all the way, iROKO has a new logo and its hacking away its business with dreams of a brighter future.
“We need to build the future. Not tomorrow. But today. So we did. We shouldn’t exist. But we do. And we thrive. Now it’s time to build a massive business by re-aligning todays reality. iROKO has 5 core values. Our guiding principals to build what we hope to be a $100M generating business by 2020,” Njoku says on his blog.