A Tech Story: Victor Anari Sengbe: Lake Merritt Hangman Noose Dude Not Oakland Resident, But Tech Genius
Victor Anari Sengbe, the man who’s the focus of at least one of the hangman noose’s that were spotted around Lake Merritt on June 17th (no word who was responsible for the fake body effigy also hung with hangman nooses on the Bellevue side of Lake Merritt), was repeatedly said to be an “Oakland resident” by mainstream media, specifically local Channel 7, KGO ABC News.
Well, folks, all that started because someone at KGO ABC News wrote ” Oakland resident Victor Sengbe, who is black, told KGO-TV that the ropes were part of a rigging that he and his friends used for a larger swing system. He shared a video of the swing in use, the Associated Press reported.” Sloppy.
Both KGO ABC 7, and much of the conservative white media (to underscore the point that there is a racial perspective that comes with media, even if we don’t want to see it), were fast to try and broom the whole problem because a black man, Victor Anari Sengbe, held an impromptu press conference to say that he just made a swing set.
It’s called the “Banana In The Tailpipe”, from Beverly Hills Cop. Or this….
And if from that you believe I’m putting Victor Anari Sengbe in the role of Eddie Murphy’s Axel Foley, you would be correct. In this, the SF Bay Area mainstream media, led by KGO ABC 7, are represented by the Beverly Hills Cops played by Judge Reinhold and John Ashton.
Now, anyone searching Victor Anari Sengbe would find mostly news about him as connected with the Lake Merritt Hangman Noose problem, and a couple of social media platform pages, and that’s it. The non-curious would then pass by and, well, let the “Banana In The Tailpipe” remain just that. They would also pass right over Anari Sengbe.
Who Is Anari Sengbe And Where Does He Live?
Well, first, if Victor Anari Sengbe is an “Oakland resident”, why doesn’t his Facebook page say he lives in Oakland? It reads San Francisco. Plus, Victor Anari Sengbe has a number of events and connections to the local SF Bay Area tech community, and more than a passing interest in gaming and SAAS (software as service) company ideas, promotions, and in one case a startup. Then, I happened to see Anari Sengbe without the “Victor” and discovered a whole new world.
On Crunchbase, where I’m listed, Anari Sengbe is credited with two startup companies: FoodHigh.Club based in Washington, D.C. and said to be “Your Meal, Delivered With A Mystery Gift Box”, and Gamerholic, billed as a is a site that awards people with bitcoins and gamerholic coins for playing video games. In 2016, he told NewsBTC “Gamerholic coin expands the possibilities of gaming for game developers, the coin is going up on the exchange, what should happen in your game?”
The trouble is that the website of Gamerholic, or Gamerholic.com, is not opening, and a check of the URL reports an organization name: “UnFunded Hype”. I think it may be Anari Sengbe both playing a game and telling a truth: he has an corporate idea that, to this date, is not funded.
More Interesting Anari Sengbe Stories On Gamerholic From 2016
In 2016, Anari Sengbe told the publication Anari Sengbe about Gamerholic, and told them he was co-founder of ProducTank, and with a link to the ProducTank website. I visited ProducTank and could find nothing, no name or photo, listing Mr. Sengbe as co-founder. For a man, me, who so wants to root for and collaborate with blacks in tech, this kind of finding is hurtful. Getting my “Certificate of Good Standing” from The State of Delaware for Zennie62Media, Inc. was a personal achievement. I’d love to be proven wrong about Anari Sengbe’s company, as he’s got a good idea that needs a push.
According to the post, Anari moved Gamerholic to San Francisco in June 2013, and Crunchbase reports that “Anari Sengbe came to the United States from Sierra Leone” and NASDAQ.com says he came to America from “Freetown, Sierra Leone at the age of 10.” And from bitsonline.com this:
Sengbe launched Gamerholic in 2014, before gaming cryptocurrencies had the following they currently enjoy. With this venture, the entrepreneur seriously shifted his focus. Coming from the world of traditional tech — working on projects for Mercedez-Benz, Master Card, and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign — Sengbe ambitiously built Gamerholic as a blockchain-based platform that allowed casual gamers to make bets with one another.
According to Sengbe, he spent over a year working in the San Francisco offices of Yetizen, the world’s top gaming accelerator. While there, he witnessed the company write “checks to a pile of silly game ideas, but wouldn’t touch Gamerholic.” But Sengbe continued working. He managed to have Gamerholic Coin listed on the Bittrex cryptocurrency exchange, and landed an audition on the popular Shark Tank TV show.
However, the cryptocurrency developer and entrepreneur didn’t make the cut on and got booted off the show. With no VC funding, the project eventually ran out of resources. Bittrex delisted Gamerholic Coin, and Sengbe ultimately had to stop development on the platform.
Here is Sengbe’s 2015 BenzPay commercial that “won us the 1st ever Mercedes Benz hackathon in Silicon Valley,” he wrote:
In the process, Mr. Sengbe pivoted to work on the creation of a new coin: OWO.
The story is a sad one but also very familiar to any African American, or African, or white man or woman or most anyone in the startup tech world. Basically, he struggled to get funding. Bitsonline in an article sponsored by Anari Sengbe, as OWO wrote this:
Sengbe had difficulty building a team for this project, calling himself an “awkward black guy.” According to Sengbe, people in the US expect African Americans to be confident and charismatic, traits he himself lacked at times. As such, Sengbe said people in the entrepreneurial world avoided him. Nevertheless, he managed to build a team of five people to help him work on OWO.
Then, later, and because of the application he developed for Mercedes Benz, he got some funding to keep him going. “These days, I stay coding,” Sengbe said to Bitsonline in 2016, but between then and now, his www.OWO.world website went down. Whatever happened, it would seem he’s not active in the project at this time and that, in 2018, his team of five people quit on him, all at once. On Medium, he wrote about this in “My Transition To Rich Asshole”.
“45 days ago, 5 young black men who worked with OWO.world (my company) quit on me on the same day, one by text message,” Sengbe wrote. “Since then I followed my minds resolve to rebuild, with the help of my son, Terek. We are a father, son team.” And he revealed that he attracted Cyan Banister, the legendary former at IronPort executive who became an angel investor in serveral notable startups including SpaceX, who told him “I did it without a team,” she said, “you don’t need a team, I’m okay with that”. He ended the post with “I’m now more apparent of my transition to rich asshole. I apologize to the accomplished hardened men and women whom I’ve called assholes in the past, on forth, I’ll head nod in understanding.”
In many of the accounts about Anari Sengbe, two descriptions come up again, and again: “genius” and “entrepreneur”. But it’s also clear he does not live in Oakland, and may have moved to San Francisco in 2014 from Washington D.C. And its clear from this 2016 Medium entry that he is truly a resident of San Francisco as there’s nothing to tie him to a move to Oakland.
Why The Oakland Noose Problem And Was It A Trick?
Without Anari Sengbe to answer, the mystery of why he elected to go to Lake Merritt to build a swing and use a noose rope structure is puzzling. But from this, I can determine that it could very well be that Anari Sengbe is not aware of Black American History – as much as I doubt it. I am more leaning to the possibility that Anari Sengbe’s at a career crossroads and could have led him in new directions. That’s as much as I dare speculate.
But something else is massively clear: the real story of Anari Sengbe is more interesting than the one he gave us, and plays a central role in the unfolding saga of blacks in tech. Anari Sengbe has a lot to share with us and teach us. He should drop the “Victor” and just be Anari Sengbe.
It’s also clear to me that KGO ABC 7 San Francisco was in such a rush to prove that there was no noose story just because a black guy said so, they revealed a giant level of mainstream media-based institutional racism that bears deeper focus and eradication.