How Node Africa Co-founders are Rising From the Ashes of Angani Lawsuits

Phares Kariuki Ceo Node Africa
Phares Kariuki Ceo Node Africa

Phares Kariuki Ceo Node AfricaLast year, we sat down for an extensive interview with Phares Kaboro, who was then the CEO of cloud startup Angani. In the interview, Kaboro talked of his journey at the startup, what they had set out to achieve and the gains made with the business. We were totally sold on Angani and even went to the extent of migrating our site to their cloud.

A few weeks after the interview, social media was rife with reports that Phares and his co-founder Brian Muita had been hounded out of the company they started and a new team having taken over at the helm. As customers, we experienced another nightmare in that our site, hosted by Angani went offline for an entire 7 days. Yep. an entire week of frustrated readers.

The issues started after a board meeting was held with the view of relieving Phares his duties as CEO while at the same time retaining co-founder Brian Muita as CTO. However, both offered to resign from the company. As iAfrikan points out, there was extensive back and forth over passwords, for which the two requested for a letter absolving them of any liability once they handed over the passwords. A court order was obtained to compel them to hand over the passwords and at the same time, external consultants hired from Shape Blue to hack the system and gain root/admin access as pointed out by Brenda Wambui in her Medium Post.

The Lawsuits

On 6th November we learnt a suit against both Phares and Brian was dismissed and we were not sure which case it was. The first suit filed against them was regarding the passwords, which upon searching we found it to still be an active matter in court.

Then there was a second suit filed by some board members against the two co-founders over an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) that was supposed to be held. It gets complex. So an EGM was to be held but the meeting did not have an agenda and was not properly communicated to the board members.

Phares and Brian wrote a letter to Angani shareholders telling them that due process was not followed in calling for this EGM and as such, it cannot be valid in law. The board members then went to court stating that the two were blocking the EGM and wanted the court to bar them. The court, however, sided with Phares and Brian and blocked the holding of the EGM inadvertently dismissing the suit by the board members.

Phares and Brian counter-sued and the matter is still active in court. In their court filings, the two allege the board members broke company law as the board meeting in which they were dismissed was not properly constituted and that the EGM was not procedurally called. We asked Phares for a comment on the suits to which he replied, “we were sued and we counter-sued”, as he refused to divulge more information on the same before diverting the conversation towards Node Africa, his latest venture.

Node Africa

In January of this year, Phares and Brian set up shop with a new firm called Node Africa. Node Africa offers information management services as well as cloud infrastructure. “We are basically a firm that sells our expertise in the space and in essence take a headache away from the customer”, says Phares. In a typical  situation, a client engages Node Africa, who then analyse the needs of the clients and creates a solution around it. Node Africa then engages its various partners and figures, which solution provides value for the client. Once the solution is deployed, Node will then offer support to the client to ensure the clients derive maximum utilities from this solution.

Phares says that Node Africa has made significant progress over the last 10 months of business. “We are not good at shouting about the things we have achieved but we have made massive progress particularly on the technology side of things,” he says. “We have grown the team, grown the portfolio of products, grown the customer base and increased the visibility of the brand.” he added. Node Africa’s product portfolio includes managed infrastructure as a service, on tap cloud, disaster recovery as a service with a new portfolio launching under the compliance as a service label.

“Compliance as a service will target banks and other financial institutions. If a bank wants to ensure they meet the requirements of PCI/DSS, they do not have to start from scratch but rather tap into our existing infrastructure,” says Phares. The company’s suite of the product will also seek to expand disaster management as a service following the launch of their second availability zone for their servers, which will allow companies to ride on Node Africa’s platform in case of outages. Other achievements include being among the pioneers of containerization in the African continent.

Any Conflict with Angani? “Absolutely not. We have a different agenda, different target market and even different contracting terms so there is no interlink between the two,” he says. We sought to know what lessons he had picked up from the previous experience and was placing them at Node. “We have a better and well constituted board, we are more disciplined and are getting better advice with the business,” he says.

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Eric writes on business, govt policy and enterprise tech.