Farewell Michael Joseph

Safaricom announced in a statement that their long-serving CEO Michael Joseph will step down in November from the helm of the company. He has been CEO as long as this blog has been around and a search through archives finds these posts

image from the business daily
  • Long before, the IPO there was a shareholder tug of war evict him in favour of a Kenyan CEO.
  • In 2006 he gave a talk at the British Council on how the company which started with 5 employees and 17,000 customers, overhauled Celtel and came to be one of the largest revenue earners and taxpayers in Kenya. The talk was given before the IPO and before they launch M-Pesa and had numerous insightful tales, as he was the only spokesperson for the company and he also touched on low education standards, wrong government statistics, the problems at kencell/celtel/zain/ and political battles to succeed his seat.
  • The first post IPO report shows that he has 2.35 million shares in the company, same as the CFO so probably a contractual bonus.
  • He has said that post-retirement that he will contemplate becoming a Kenyan citizen. He (and the company) have received many accolades both local and international. Form government, the private sector and he is noted for his CSR efforts especially in the conservation of wildlife and forests.
  • For many years, he has been Kenya’s Steve Jobs, a man so closely inter-wined with their brand and with a medical history, but whose company had not defined a succession plan until this week. New reports indicate the new CEO will work with MJ for two months from September, and that he will continue on in advisory role even after he leaves the CEO office.

Other Blogs
– Kainvestor asks if he was a corporate legend?
– Ratio Magazine on how the retirement may shake up the local mobile & telecom sector
Interviews with the CEO

EDIT July 29, 2022.

7 thoughts on “Farewell Michael Joseph

  1. gmeltdown

    A few months back I would say that there was no sufficient succession planning at Safaricom. That I thought was one of huge risks around long term investment in Safaricom.

    Now am beginning to change my mind especially when am told that the new guy has been sitting in the board for some time. I agree with having a Vodaphone sponsored CEO. Had it been upon Kenyan shareholders to produce a successor, we would surely have had qc(post appointment)conflict.

  2. Chmeee

    Safaricom takes me back a very long time. I’ve been a subscriber of theirs since 1998 when the SIM card cost a bloody fortune to buy. Advance payments were made at Extelcoms and we had to call a certain number (forgot which one) to get our balance from an operator. No extras at all.

    When Kencell first opened shop, I recall going to Sarit and being one of the first to sign up. They were only allowing postpaid customers to join but the extras they offered like voice-mail etc. won me over.

    Unfortunately, they focused on the wrong market segment (postpaid and per minute billing in Africa?) and lost the war. Horribly. I’m still using my Safcon line. Don’t ask about the tinny tiny turnover on my Kencell/Celtel/Zain/Bharti/_____(fill-in in 2012) line.

    Love him or hate him, MJ did a good job. The colossus he built will survive his departure.

  3. bankelele

    Gmeltdown: like NMG they have assured a smooth transition by having him around and by picking another ‘outsider’, a mini-kenyan battle has been averted

    Chmeee: They’ve come along way and I don’t think even he could have forseen how dramaticaly it could change from the days of extelecom house

  4. Maishinski

    We shall soon see if Michael Joseph is merely an egotistical corporate “big man” who shamelessly hoardes credit and publicity for the brainwork of his employees.

    It is unfortunate that he allowed the media to link the company to his personality. Now we have uncertainty and volatility is inevitable in the near term.

    Successor is in a tough place and any apparent “blunder” will be personally blamed on him – despite MJ being in the board for the next 2 years.

    There’s also ound to be a clash of Egos as MJ tries to show that he’s still the man withthe “big ideas” running the show.

    If you understand corporate politics, you will know that SCOM share price Volatility is inevitable in the near/mid term.

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