The chief executive officer of a Nigerian tech startup has been found dismembered in a luxury condominium in New York City.
The New York Police Department confirmed on Wednesday that the remains of 33-year-old Fahim Saleh were found the previous day in the Lower East Side condo. Saleh was a tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist best known for founding Gokada, a motorcycle ride-hailing app in Nigeria. His body was missing its head and limbs, which were stuffed into contractor bags nearby.
Saleh was last seen in surveillance footage recorded on Monday as he entered an elevator in the building. A man dressed in black clothing was seen in the elevator with him; police said they believed the man to be Saleh’s attacker.
Saleh’s sister reportedly discovered his dismembered body. Police have not determined a motive in the killing.
Gokada lamented Saleh’s “sudden and tragic death” in a series of tweets. “Fahim was a great leader, inspiration and positive light for all of us,” the company tweeted. “Our hearts go out to his friends, family and all those feeling the pain and heartbreak we are currently experiencing, here at Gokada.”
Saleh had been a tech entrepreneur since his days as a high school student, when he founded PrankDial.com, a website offering pre-recorded prank calls. PrankDial.com reportedly generated more than $10 million. “Sometimes, passion plus hard work creates something truly exceptional — and financial gain inadvertently follows,” Saleh wrote of the project in 2018. “If you go into a project entirely focused on making money, you’re going to be disappointed,” he added. “At the end of the day, you need to make sure it’s something you’re truly passionate about.”
Gokada, his latest — and last — project, raised over $5 million and hired more than 800 drivers. However, all of that was in peril, as Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, banned commercial motorcycles earlier this year. State authorities explained that the move was necessary to reduce traffic congestion, pollution and accidents. However, the state’s failure to provide ready alternatives left millions of residents stranded and sparked protests.
In a February YouTube video, Saleh vowed to keep fighting for Gokada, despite the regulatory roadblock faced by the startup. “I’m never gonna give up, because that’s the true attribute of an entrepreneur, never giving up,” Saleh said. “Entrepreneurs are the ones that really change countries, that really change cities. They’re the ones who bring the vision, they’re the ones who bring the passion.”
“Gokada is not just a business to me. It’s a mission,” Saleh said. “And every part of that mission was always being safe, providing jobs. We do things that nobody else did in the market at the time.”
“Lagos, if you want amazing things to happen, support your entrepreneurs,” Saleh said in the video. “Support these great innovative businesses that are seeking to change Lagos — if not for Gokada, for the next Gokada, and for the one after that.”
In lieu of the commercial motorcycle ban, Saleh said Gokada would pursue other avenues for the business to follow. It launched a package delivery service less than three weeks after the ban was announced, and Saleh told CNN that he was working toward starting a boat-hailing service.