Gbenro Dara has joined Opera as the Managing Director of OList, the online marketplace and classified ads business of Opera in Nigeria.
Launched some four months ago, OList is part of Opera's strategy to expand its offerings beyond its claim to fame mobile browsers to include online marketing services. The launch of OList comes on the heels of the roll out of services such as Opera Ads—Opera's advertising platform—and OLeads—its platform for creating customizable website.
Gbenro, who announced his new role at Opera on Tuesday, could be considered as one of the doyens of the online marketplace and classified ads business in Nigeria. In the past three years, Gbenro has worked with three online marketplaces and classified ad websites.
Excited to announce that I've joined @opera to lead it's new initiatives in Nigeria. Also, happy to introduce @olistnigeria. The work continues as we build a vibrant internet economy across Africa. Looking forward to engaging our users on here #Opay #Oride #Olist #Otrike #ONation— GD🚀 (@gbenrod) November 19, 2019
Although Gbenro chose to make the announcement on Twitter on Tuesday, his LinkedIn profile shows that he joined Opera as the Managing Director of OList in September 2019, in tandem with when Opera launched the online marketplace.
Why did Gbenro make the announcement now? You might ask. The obvious reason is that Opera has not put the spotlight on OList. There is no press release announcing the launch of OList, except for occasional mentions in unaudited financial results and other official statements. Compared to OPay and Oride that publicly announce new services on a whim.
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The unobvious reason, however, is that OList publicity has been like a whisper because the site is continuously being worked on. The interface of the website from last month has been drastically improved to what it is today. Also, by making the announcement on Twitter, Gbenro is putting the spotlight on OList. He told benjamindada.com, "We are focusing on growing listings and driving consumer awareness."
Speaking on the edge OList has over competitors (Jiji, OLX and the defunct Efritin), Gbenro said, "Opera is known as an executor of high-growth companies in a short time," evident in OPay's tremendous growth.
We have a strong advantage with our ability to acquire users from other Opera platforms, namely Opera Mini and Opera News. This has contributed to the doubling of listings to over one million, compared with three months ago.
He added that Opera has a strong team of people with significant experience and learnings over the years across top e-commerce and classified businesses in Africa and Asia.
Peep Gbenro Dara's profile
Before then, he was the country manager and CEO of Efritin, an online marketplace and classified ads website, till the Swedish parent-company, Saltside Technology, closed shop and "left the building" in 2017.
Indeed, Gbenro's profile shows he is an ardent believer in the power of technology to connect buyers and sellers, as well as to provide people with the best value for money, even before joining the online marketplace business as CEO of Efritin 2016.
After traversing the world of investing at Africa Development Investment Limited and Kaizen Venture Partners from 2008 to 2011, Gbenro joined Rocket Internet to be among the founding team of Jumia in 2012. Thereafter, Gbenro joined the founding team at Startup Partners Africa and moved on to become a co-founder and COO at autogenius—an online vehicle insurance broker—in 2014. Gbenro also did a four-month stint at Hotels.ng as the chief operations officer in 2016.
Gbenro will be joining Ridwan Olalere, Senior Director of Operations at OPay, who also did an eight-month stint at Hotels.ng as a software developer.