If you are one of those who believe in power dressing, what would you say to Anand Mahindra’s sartorial choice, a natty black jodhpuri, for the recent AGM instead of the stuffy pinstripe routine? Turns out this was the popular choice of a tweet poll that the dashing chairman undertook just ahead of D-day to help him deal with wardrobe confusion. While Mahindra may have felt a little hot under the collar on a muggy Mumbai afternoon, some insiders spun a long yarn altogether. The style statement they insisted it was a reflection of the new corporate strategy of going local by reducing the group’s expansive global footprint. Some fashion-forward statement this.
For several of our blue-blooded business bosses, the pandemic has been perfect to pen a tell-all memoir. A doyen of the Indian auto industry has clearly inspired many of his peers to dial publishers, even rope in ghost writers and start putting pen to paper. We heard two of the senior-most patriarchs of Indian industry, from healthcare and consumer, are very keen to bare their souls. Such enthusiasm makes us wonder if they are not happy with the official biographies that are available in the market. With their rich experience in managing legacies of family run conglomerates, each of them could well be page-turning master classes in boardroom management.
Not so long back, glasnost swept this organisation as private sector talent came in to re-energise its banking operations. No longer. With the top boss gone, we hear one more of his acolytes, known for deep connects with institutional equities clients, has left the division he headed. It’s tough to pinpoint a single reason but murmurs are loud that his departure is the fallout of management changes and the consequent easing out of the old guard. Just a few months back, another senior executive who was brought in from overseas as a business head by the former CEO also quit. Interestingly, all of them had cut their teeth in a group that that is known for never sleeping.
The headline-grabbing buyout of WhiteHat Jr by Byju’s last week is as much a tale of profits as it is of parenting. Kerry Bajaj, the wife of founder Karan Bajaj, flew out with their two kids to New Jersey in the middle of the lockdown mid-May to help her husband clinch the deal of a lifetime within six weeks. While Karan was incessantly on calls, she had to “shush the kids and plan the mopping schedule.” Such a frantic WFH schedule also made her realise the passionate involvement of the entire team that had once again taken over their living room, the original HQ of the 18-month-old startup. Kerry surely knows how to be the smart millennial mom, having authored a popular book on sleeping patterns for toddlers. In the end, with one of the largest and fastest VC exits in the country, this surely is an adventure worth a whole new book.
Shop Till You Drop
This old-money business family and legacy landlord of Mumbai is a storehouse of some of the weirdest anecdotes and fiercest feuds among their own. The latest we picked up led to dropped jaws. So paranoid are the members of their extended household of the ongoing pandemic that they have been hoarding industrial amounts of life-saving medicines, ventilators, oxygen cylinders, masks and what have you. We doubt if they are aware of the rule book, but since they have also discreetly started informing close friends to call them in case of emergency, here’s a note of caution.
Sensitive or Snowflakes?
A veteran consultant’s recent blog post about a client meeting gone awry seems to have awakened ghosts of corporates past for many a professional. Here’s what went down: The person in question wrote about going for a meeting with a sportswear company’s head honcho while unwittingly sporting a rival company’s T-shirt. ‘Dressed to kill’ just found a new meaning when the client made their displeasure at the outfit known. The now-viral post triggered several industry folks who poured it on, hinting at similar experiences with brand leaders, adding that this behaviour reeks of entitlement and immaturity. We will let you decide.
Collective Log Out
This once-pioneering digital meda company is again in the news for the wrong reasons. We heard just recently the entire core founding team decided to leave en masse, triggering utter panic and despair among colleagues. The official version of course talks of creative differences cropping up in terms of the future destiny of the company, till we heard several were actually uncomfortable with the return of the founder after a three-year hiatus as a ‘mentor’ after allegations of sexual misconduct had forced him to quit. Even though he had launched an independent venture earlier in the year, his renewed association with the company he founded has shaken its foundations.
An Uncertain Future
Warren Buffet’s quip — “You only find out who’s swimming naked when the tide goes out” — comes to mind when we think of this real estate tycoon down south. Till recently, he was the toast of the town courting millions of petro or, shall we say, gas dollars from influential investors. But he chose to leverage up to the hilt, getting funds from two mutual funds and a leading shadow bank to give his investors exits.
Turns out both these MFs turned turtle and with most refinancing windows shut, the second generation have their back against the wall. Chances of losing their crown jewel to a deeppocketed Canadian investor, who might already have some debt exposure, is very real as both sides have signed exclusivity deals.
This clean energy poster boy has been in a financial spot for a while now. Several strategies have already been explored, including a potential reverse merger to access global capital markets after its own plans came a cropper. Now, as per the grapevine, it is toying with the idea of changing its jurisdiction to a more businessfriendly global zip code. That might heat things up among the powers that be, even though several of its homegrown peers have already done that over the years.
Help at Hand
How can those with hearing and visual disabilities access emergency healthcare during the pandemic? Telecom experts and stakeholders meet virtually today to explore the best way they can use the latest telecom tools, devices and services. Participants include International Telecom Union deputy secretary general Malcolm Johnson and former telecom secretary JS Deepak, who also used to be India’s ambassador to the WTO. Doctors, device makers and broadband specialists will brainstorm on ways to customise mobile devices and services to assist such populations, including the elderly. Better late than never.