Dhiraj Rajaram creates India’s first billion dollar analytics company

Dhiraj Rajaram, got featured in Economic Times recently as the CEO- founder of India’s first billion dollar valuation analytics startup.

Mu Sigma attracts a clutch of foreign investors, gets valued at $1 billion, Dhiraj Rajaram is now king of data

This year, the company which employs 2,500 people across a development centre in Bangalore and offices in the US, UK and Australia, will build a data analytics lab in the US and hire 400 data scientists there.

I first met Dhiraj in 2008 Q1 for a job. We didnt agree partly because I needed to be close to my son ( who was 4 mth old) and I ended up taking a contract with another Bangalore based company. What impressed me at that time was something I rarely see in India’s analytics entrepreneurs-

1)  A Grand Vision- Dhiraj said- I am trying to build the largest math factory on the world.

2) Focus- Dhiraj was focused only on analytics projects. No quick and easy outsourcing low end tasks and outsourcing for him.

3) Positivity- Not once during the entire two hour interaction did he say a negative word on competition, attrition, challenges, pressures.

4) Flamboyance- I wonder sometimes why a colorful culture like India’s end up with people being so meek in corporate culture. Dhiraj was probably one of the most flamboyant senior analytics leaders.

But there were some concerns I had in 2008 q1- including plans for IPO ( I thought that was early) and senior management flux ( the COO left in a few months).

Anyways Dhiraj grew the 200 strong team to around 900 by 2010 q3. This time again he called me for a job interview. This time we again found that there was nothing I was really good at in analytics company- with my interest in open source, blogging and writing books, and my morbid fear of managing people in operations. However I noticed some changes-

  1. There were greater signs of process driven orientation ( including messages to keep meetings short)
  2. There were newer people in senior management
  3. Dhiraj was slightly more restrained in his frank talk ( given his increasing stature and demands on his time and attention on him)
  4. I loved the sign on his Office- Jugad. Literally that means ingenuity in Hindi- and shows a glimpse into the maveric, brilliant and flamboyant nature of the CEO.

Again, there were some odd points. Mu Sigma continued to have the perception ( true or false, I dont know) of having a large number of attrition at junior levels. Again there were rumours that Dhiraj had become a bit autocratic in management ( which I found no clue of). I found that the biggest problem that Mu Sigma, Dhiraj had – they were creating enemies just by shaking up the slow IT Services mindset of India- where easy money was available just by low quality labor arbitrage. This cultural opposition to anything new (like a pure analytics company), or anything rapid ( like a company that scales up organically) could have stopped lesser men, but Mu Sigma moved on.

So it was quite nice to read the news, finally an Indian company , had broken the 1 billion mark. Allow me some leeway here. I truly believe analytics and maths have no nationality. But if you see the rampant poverty in India , what we need is more aggressive and impatient businessmen like Mr Rajaram, than the chalta hain _ ” it is okay” attitude.

Dhiraj and team, take a bow. You make us proud!

 

 

 

 

The dichotomy in being a writer on open source with a non-open access publisher

  • The publisher adds credibility to your work

versus

  • A self fulfilling prophecy where researchers want to publish in exclusive journals and closed -access books, for the sole reason that others did so as well before them and thereby donate their knowledge and money to the publisher

aaronswartz-v2

The dichotomy in being a writer on open source with a non-open access publisher?

  • I write on open source R , 
  • and I have been published (one book )
  • and am on contract to write two more ( R for Cloud Computing) and (R for Web and Social Media Analytics)
  • My publisher does have open access journals.
  • But the book is at $50. Most of India lives at less than 2$ per day. Thats 800 million people in my country alone.

But the publisher is the most reputed in this field. So what are my choices? How do I get more people to have choices to read books.

Take open knowledge , curate it, and turn it behind a $50 paywall. I am sorry, Aaron. People like me are the reason ……

 

New Delhi R User group meets up

Inspired by David Smith ‘s blog post at http://blog.revolutionanalytics.com/2012/10/r-user-group-sponsorship-applications-open-for-2013.html I set up a meetup group for New Delhi at http://www.meetup.com/New-Delhi-R-UseR-Group/ ( India to my surprise has only 1 R user meetup group before this in Bangalore). The first meeting was awesome, we met in a  cafe, and the plan going forward is to cover cross domain learning and collaboration on tools, startups, mashups and training.

Hopefully we can reach out to analytics enthusiasts in Mumbai and Chennai to help kickstart the R User groups. Indian companies like Mu Sigma have been using R more and more in analytics (offshoring). You can even use the sponsorship from Revolution Analytics to start your meetup group , Meetup.com  gives you a 50% discount if you pay 6 months in advance, and given Oracle’s and IBM/Google\s big Indian presence I hope they lend a hand to User groups for R in India as well.