Six months ago Wael Fakharany left his lucrative and high-profile job as Regional Business Lead for the Middle East and Africa at Google to be at the helm of e-hailing tech startup Careem in the most elaborate fashion: With an impassioned op-ed titled Why I left Google to Join Careem.
Earlier today, Careem sent out a press release announcing that Fakharany had resigned from his position as Managing Director of the company's Egypt operation and Vice President of Government Relations and that he is to be replaced by Ramy Kato, but surely by now, you have heard of the now former employee's infamous tweet denying the whole thing. Fakharany took to Twitter, early this morning, to share his side of the story, tweeting: "I didn't resign from Careem, I was fired in a humiliating and abrupt way. God knows how hard I've worked. I am heartbroken, but I know that justice will be done."
During Fakharany's tenure, Careem increased its capital to $350 million, made a breakthrough in legalising its status in the market as a tech startup, and launched consecutive marketing concepts that saw them claim an even bigger market share. Yet, here we are; for some obscure reason, Fakharany's reign has come to a controversial end.
The tweet marks the beginning of the saga, sending shock waves through social media, with users receiving the news with mixed feelings, as some demanded an explanation and some deleted the ride-hailing app from their phones in retribution with the hashtag #DeleteCareem. The question remains, however, what would Fakharany's abrupt 'termination' mean for the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Egypt and across the region?
UPDATE: Fakhrany announced on Tuesday March 14th that a team of lawyers is working to put together a case to bring Careem to court in Dubai. In a statement to Masrawy, he declined to specify the details of the case or the real reasons as to why he was terminated. "I can't talk because there's a team of lawyers working on the case. It's really horrible. It's a big issue and it wasn't easy, and my lawyer told me not to talk. I swear to God, I was treated unfairly and I'm relying on God to show the truth."
People calling to #DeleteCareem:
UPDATE: On Sunday March 19th, Fakharany took to Medium to address the controversy with a blog titled 'From One Driver to Another'. "Careem thought of me as an asset when it was time to fundraise, and as a liability when it was done. And while I am not every a driver, I drove Careem’s business in Egypt when it mattered most. I know that will not mean much to many; but to a driver, it matters," he writes.
In his blog post, Fakharany also confirms that the matter will be settled in court, and presents compelling argument proving that he was wrongfully terminated, writing: "Here are a few non proprietary facts; Careem was valued at 200M USD right before my tenure and was valued at 1BN USD in its latest round of financing. I do not attribute this to only myself, no one person could, but ask an investor how important Egypt is to the story of Careem. One could also ask any industry veteran how important on-boarding drivers is to the ride sharing business. They could also ask investors how important it would be to have a credible person at the helm in an important market like Egypt, someone with a track record when the story was sold on paper. And one could further ask about how many captains were on-boarded in the last 6 months and how much was delivered. With this, you will get a picture of a very real need, and a picture of that real need being met."
The former Careem employee also made a phone appearance on Lamis Hadidi's talk show on CBC, Hona El Assema, during which he said that he can't divulge much about the circumstances in which he was allegedly fired due to a non-disclosure agreement he had signed.
You can read Fakharany's full blog post here.