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Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Does the Media APPLY THOUGHT?

If you are India’s richest man, anything that you do / say comes out in the media. Azim Premji and Wipro have been in the limelight for a variety of reasons. It started off with the resignation of two key executives (Vivek Paul and Raman Roy). The latest development is the resignation of Rich Garnik, Head of Sales for the US region. Wipro went on to announce its Quarterly results last week and as expected the media gave lot of coverage to this event. The results announcement was a bit different this time as the charismatic Vivek Paul was not there to answer the difficult questions posed by the media. At one of the earlier Quarterly earnings press meets, there was a question related to recruitment and bench strength. Vivek Paul said that recruitment is like a tap and they can open and close the same at ease. He also said that Wipro doesn’t believe in maintaining a big bench.

In the Indian IT industry there is an unwritten rule that Infosys announces their results first and the other IT companies follow suit. Wipro normally announces its results one week after Infy. It was during one of these Quarterly results that Premji made a statement about the poor infrastructure in Bangalore. It seems that the usually shy Premji was at ease with the media this time round. Press reports indicate that he even cracked a few jokes.

The press is notorious in blowing up even small things about such rich people. Some disclosure in the Wipro Annual report indicated that Premji has gone in for a housing loan. Some section of the media will report things like “India’s richest man uses borrowed funds to construct house”. But the media doesn’t care to write so much about the philanthropic activities of the Azim Premji Foundation.

As soon as Vivek Paul quit, BusinessWeek had an article on this issue. A short extract is given below

Premji is certainly a taskmaster who likes to keep his finger on the pulse of the business. His house stands next door to Wipro's sprawling campus in Bangalore, and he's often the first one in the office in the morning and the last out at night. He is a tightfisted manager who monitors the office supplies used at the company and makes random checks to see that workers turn off the lights at the end of the day. The 60-year-old chairman also shows no signs of slowing down, leaving little prospect for advancement for an ambitious No. 2. Premji declined to comment.

The above piece looks like a cynical view. Although Premji stays next door how does it matter to BusinessWeek? Are they saying that Premji exercises more control by staying next door? The office is not an ATM machine for him to keep a close eye. From what I understand, Premji preferred to stay closer to office so that he can avoid the traffic snarls that have become so common in B’lore.

Infy Vs Wipro

Infy has been a pioneer in the area of Stock Options and Performance linked bonuses. Wipro and the rest of the IT industry have tried to replicate some of these best practices in their respective companies. During the recent quarterly results, Premji has gone on record saying that Wipro’s structure is better than Infy. I don’t know the context in which Premji made this statement. I’m not even sure whether the press misquoted him. Did the press put the words in Premji’s mouth? I think this is probably the first time Premji has made an open remark about Infy.


  • Tagged!

    By Blogger maverick, at 5:10 PM  

  • i have heard about him checking if lights are on ,from an employee who saw him checking that......
    i dont even do that in my house..though i should learn to

    By Blogger monu, at 5:52 PM  

  • hi kaps...back 2 ur blog after a while...the media is nutorious for misquoting statements...esp those made by the so called rich & famous...we cannot take what they say at face value...thanks for decoding wipro's cheaf premji from the image our media portrays!

    By Blogger Ramana Siddharth, at 7:37 PM  

  • Yellow Journalism at its best!

    By Blogger Naresh, at 8:42 PM  

  • that could be true...since all the media have reported it. i too really wondered why should he compare his empire with infy ?

    By Blogger crsathish, at 12:52 AM  

  • i did not read the whole article but the short extract tht u've put does not sound bad tho! it looks like a mere observation...i dont see it as a cynical view...mebbe it is...not sure...we do know that the media loves stories like this...cant blame them fully bcoz we as readers love to get a peak into any rich man's life...me thinks plain curiosity!

    By Blogger capriciously_me, at 6:01 AM  

  • "Did the press put the words in Premji’s mouth?" -- From the movie "Pammal K Sambandham"? :-)))

    By Blogger Kirubakaran, at 6:27 AM  

  • @Maverick,
    I'm not sure whether I can complete this movie tag. Let me try my best.

    There are lot of things one can learn from Premji. He travels economy class (except long haul flights), doesn't have a flashy lifestyle.

    Welcome back.....the media can be a little bit more responsible

    Thanx for dropping by

    I also felt that it might be true as all the Mainstream Media seems to have quoted the same.

    It would be better if the media talks about how to make it to the top rather than a peek into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Discovery Channel already has programs which cater to that segment of the viewers.

    I need to watch PKS once again to see whether this dialogue is being featured in the movie.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 11:49 AM  

  • I was surprised to see this being quoted in the media. Because Premji normally is very guarded in his intvs and rarely blurts out things...

    By Blogger Cogito, at 12:25 PM  

  • Media is actually starved of sensible news and wants to make sense out of irrelevant news these days.

    By Anonymous vasanthi, at 1:11 PM  

  • I have read somewhere long back Wipro pioneered options or ESOPs way back in late 80's. Check it out much before likes of INFY. Probably it was not as broadbased as INFY. regards,ashwin

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:20 PM  

  • Wipro granted restricted ESOPs (RESOPs) in late 80s - but these were limited to the highest echelons of the organization (top 50 people or so, later going to about 200+) - they were nowhere as broad based as Infy's and so never got widely known.

    By Blogger puddlefrog, at 3:54 PM  

  • I have worked for this company for some time and i dint quite like the environment. its too very rigid. Vivek paul is a great loss. raman roy was pioneering spectramind and his loss will for sure affect their venture into the BPO regime

    By Blogger Suguna Purushothaman, at 7:08 PM  

  • Reg PKS, the scene outside the court after abbas & sneha get divorced :-)

    By Blogger Kirubakaran, at 1:04 AM  

  • Thats something for a change.. may be its time the media shifts the limelight on wipro being the Bellweather rather than Infy..

    Wipro has come a long way from selling Vanaspatis to Softwares!

    By Blogger Chez, at 7:49 PM  

  • Azim Premji must be grateful to Vivek for making the "wipro" brand so recognizable.I do not know how Wipro might have been if Vivek had not come on board.. would they have succeeded in acquiring Spectramind? I do not know.
    Cognizant has been very unsuccessful in acquiring any BPO's

    By Blogger Venky Krishnamoorthy, at 10:09 AM  

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