Mu Sigma managing director quits to join Sequoia Capital
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Ganesh Lakshminarayanan has quit as managing director (MD) of Mu Sigma Inc., a year after the former MD of Dell Inc.’s Indian unit joined the data analytics outsourcing firm.
Lakshminarayanan is the second senior executive to quit India’s highest valued technology start-up in four months. Chief financial officer (CFO) Atul Bansal left the firm in March.
The reason for Lakshminarayanan’s departure is unclear. He has joined as a consultant at venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, which is one of the investors in Mu Sigma along with General Atlantic Llc.
Mu Sigma, founded by former Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. consultant Dhiraj Rajaram, raised $45 million of funding in February 2013, valuing it at $1.5 billion. Over the last two years, it has been cited in media reports as talking to potential investors to raise fresh capital, but has made no announcement of any fundraising.
Rajaram, founder and chairman of Mu Sigma, said the departure was a big loss for Mu Sigma, adding that Lakshminarayanan’s new job will allow him to help many smaller firms and entrepreneurs. Rajaram owns about 45% of the firm.
“This is a big loss for us but I personally think this is an opportunity I could not ask Ganesh to give up,” Rajaram said in an email in response to a Mint questionnaire. “He is now part of a platform that allows him to impact multiple smaller companies and influence younger entrepreneurs.”
In March, Rajaram said Bansal left the company because he wanted to be “close to his ageing mother in Mumbai”.
Emails and calls to Lakshminarayanan and Shailendra Singh, MD of Sequoia Capital, went unanswered.
In an interview to Bloomberg in April, Rajaram said Mu Sigma could get listed on Nasdaq within four years.
Mu Sigma, with about 4,000 employees, competes against larger rivals, including Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), Infosys Ltd and Wipro Ltd and start-ups such as New Jersey-based Opera Solutions and Fractal Analytics, in helping companies make sense of unstructured datasets and improving business operations.
Since Mu Sigma relies on the traditional outsourcing model of deploying an army of young college graduates to offer solutions to its clients, as opposed to intelligent technology platforms used by Palo Alto-based Palantir Technologies and Opera Solutions, some experts say it will be a challenging task for Rajaram to scale up MuSigma’s business.
“Data analytics is a buzzword now. But we really need to see what kind of work is being done by Mu Sigma and say, Palantir. Because the model followed by Mu Sigma suggests that there are too many players having the same approach and it is becoming a crowded space. Also, the tech companies (TCS, Infosys) are also offering this model to their clients,” said a Bengaluru-based partner at a venture capital firm, on condition of anonymity. “So, at some point of time, these start-ups will have to relook at their existing model.”
The global analytics market is estimated to touch $121 billion by the year 2016 from an estimated $100 billion opportunity currently, according to industry lobby National Association of Software and Services Companies, or Nasscom.
Mu Sigma is estimated to have revenue of $250 million and aims to have to $1 billion in revenue within five to seven years, according to the Bloomberg interview.