I wanted to take the time to process my response and be objective and thoughtful about my response to allegations about me. Rather than just get angry and immediately have a knee-jerk reaction, which would have been one of counter allegations and finger pointing, I thought I’d take time to go through the cycle of shock, denial, etc. and venting it all, I thought I should reflect first and understand where I went wrong and what I did, which has led to these events.
This is my third version. Hopefully detailed enough to be specific but not too long to sound whiny.
I started my career at a Pretzel Logic – which was in the bay area, which was sold to BEA – no records of the sale exist but in the resumes of a few folks, but the founder (Srikanth Sudararajan now at Helion) is still around to vouch for that.
I went to Cisco as an engineer, in 1995. and left in 1997 with one of my colleagues – Jay Collins (he passed away last year) to start Interfinity. Netscape (Peter McDonald and Steve Savignano were my customers) , Cisco, NetDialog (and a few others were our customers. We operated out of Jay’s garage at first in San Jose and then moved into an office. We hired my cousin as well as an engineer. We built an order fulfillment system. It started as a consulting opportunity, but soon morphed. Jay wanted to leave the area and I wanted the flexibility as well, so we sold it with assets to a friend (the business was doing about $300K – $500K in revenues). I am pretty sure Peter McDonald and Steve, can vouch for that.
Then I did some consulting and started another company called Amura. There’s actually a link to our office address. I started it with a friend, Alok Batra in 1999. We wanted to build eCommerce platforms for online communities. We even got a term sheet from investors – Sevin Rosen funds and a few angels, but I made some critical mistakes during the angel round closing, so I was asked to leave. I sold my shares to the other founders who then built CofIx (with a completely new vision and direction so I have no credit there).
I then went to Asera from 1999 to 2001 which raised a lot of money (over $100 Million from KPCB and others) but was acquired in an asset sale to SEEC in 2001.
During this time I also invested in startups via Zodiac Ventures LLC. Shastri Divakaruni was the General partner, and I invested as a part of the fund. We had other investors including, Anil Nori, now at Microsoft. The fund invested in 20+ companies – none of them super hits. So largely a wash. Anil can confirm that we were both disappointed with our ability to be angel investors. Here is a link to the company (He can confirm that I invested as a part of the fund, obviously).
As a side note, without hopefully sounding snarky – Intel has invested in 1400 companies and when I asked one of their VP’s yesterday, only 500+ of them were public with “records on the Internet”. So, if somehow “records not on the Internet” is a benchmark for “does not exist” then many entities – including my kids who were born after 2001 – dont exist.
Then I was at Mercury Interactive (acquired by HP) for 4.5 years.
I then started a blog (Vangal) and was consulting with Canvas Group (this was an entity for my consulting engagements) for some time after this.
Then I joined Kannan Ayyar at Karna Global – this was a restart because they were growing before me, but got consumed by the 2001 crash. Kannan and I rebuilt the business slowly. I was at that time the EVP of Sales / Solutions, and Kannan was the CEO. He truly treated me as a co-founder and I was on the board as well. We were the two “executives” and were trying our best to get a sale done, but things did not pan out.
We were close to a sale of the company to EMC / Documentum but they pulled out at the last minute. So Karna’s India portion of the business was sold to Cranes software – hey look there’s a press release as well.
I then returned to India in 2008. Started Buzzgain and sold it to Meltwater. We had a contract with Sakhatech about the payments and I paid them for that contract and effort. I still have not been paid a 100% of what I am owed by Meltwater, which is another story altogether.
In 2012 after the sale, I worked with Sarath Naru and Vishesh Rajaram of Venture East to talk about eOVL (eYantra Online Ventures Limited) which was to be a spin off from eYantra (which Phani N Raj was the CEO of) and was funded by Venture East and Argonaut ventures.
Here are some screen shots of our Shareholder agreement. Indus Law was my legal counsel and Srinivas Katta can confirm that Vish from Venture East was the primary negotiator on this agreement.
Here are the partial agreement pages.
And the Shareholders agreement as well.
I can clarify that EOVL is Jivity (the new name), which was a spinoff, and these screen shots capture the investors.
I have already spoken about my experiences with Jivity and eYantra. We were unable to secure the next round of funding, so I left.
The part about enGrave, is the one I regret the most. There are no excuses on this one. I truly, deeply and from the bottom of my heart apologize to Nimish. I treated him badly as a founder and should have been more empathetic. At that time I was under a lot of stress as I mentioned before.
After that I started many “projects”.
What I learned was in India, the pain of starting a company, the entities, the MCA filings etc, was arduous.
So I had one company – Vangal Software and services and a whole host of projects to see what sticks.
Social Hues, gitGrow, Kinetic Brains, FreshMonth, HeyMaya, Vangal, Pricearoo, and I am surely forgetting many more. There is a series of posts I can write about all my failures at these projects. I will at some point.
I am comfortable with side projects and ideas to find out and learn what works.
I do have a big fault – so might call me a hypocrite for this – but I dont practice what I preach.
I preach – perseverance, discipline and focus.
I am the most “shiny object” person there is. Folks who know me can testify that. I move from project to project in search of “traction”.
I am working on fixing that as well.
Just before joining Microsoft, Paul Singh and Dave McClure visited India. I hosted them at home. On a car ride from Paul’s hotel to NPC Product Conclave, he mentioned to me that they were (500 startups) were starting a fund in India. He wanted me to invest a little money so they can say they have investors. I agreed immediately and did write about it when they announced it. My (very poorly thought through) intention was to give them social proof – hey I was investing, you can too – other investors.
Then a few months passed. Paul left 500. I joined Microsoft. I could not invest due to my conflict there. I mentioned that to Pankaj. They ended up not raising that fund. I am positive Paul can confirm that as well.
During my time at Microsoft Ventures as I clarified before, I was specifically asked by founders to confirm that I was an investor for social proof. I am not lying about this at all. It is rather unfortunate that some of them either have forgotten or claim otherwise.
Here’s the thing about AngelList. It is two sided. Unless both parties confirm their “relationship” it does not show up.
So, if I wanted to claim I funded Uber, the owner of Uber has to either initiate this or I have to. Until they confirm (or I do if they initiated), it wont show up.
I cannot confirm if PlusTxt asked, but I know for a fact that a few did. I confirmed. That was my mistake. I had no intention to actually tell people that I invested in them.
Here is another thing – I have over 12,000 connections on LinkedIn and 10,000 “Friends” on Facebook. Are they all my friends? Absolutely not.
My mistake was also to treat Angel List the same way. I dont take any of these online sites too seriously. That is now, I realize a huge mistake. I even confirmed a friends dog as my dog and on Facebook I was a Chef at some restaurant at Facebook – well, all that’s undergoing cleaning now.
As is my “friends” list on all these properties. I realize that’s the way people operate mostly. I was an exception and I did not realize the impact of Angel List, or other platforms and the true intent of social signals.
Finally Napkin Stage – I have consistently talked to Sunil from Sign Easy about my work as a board member not just an advisor. I cannot detail our agreement, but due to a mistake on my part – an oversight, it is an advisory agreement.
Chargebee and Krish have had an advisory relationship for years.
Regarding Appointy – I was disappointed here as well. There is complete email thread on my ownership %, my agreement and details, and the contours of it, but things did not pan out.
I should have waited to sign the paperwork before I put his name on napkin stage. That was my first mistake.
My second mistake was calling them “investments” as opposed to advisory relationships, which is what they were. I think this was a mistake and I should have been more clear up front.
So what’s the bottom line?
- I don’t have any intention to lie or deceive anyone. I may have exaggerated on several occasions – I am truly sorry for that. I will rectify that ASAP. I don’t expect anyone to believe it, so I have to prove it with actions. I don’t intend harm, but thats probably debatable if you don’t know me.
- Did I make mistakes? I absolutely did. Many of them.
- Did I behave badly with Nimish and Anand Lunia? Yes. Could I have acted in a much more mature fashion – absolutely. Could I have handled it better? Sure.
So what have I been doing?
- This episode has helped me figure out who my “friends”, are and who was being nice to my face but have now been saying “I knew it all along”. I also know now, who are waiting for me to fall, but really are disguised as friends.
- I apologized (I dont ever expect to be forgiven) to a few people for hurting them. I am truly sorry again for the pain, heartache an suffering I caused them and their family. It is unconscionable.
- I am changing how I interact with people – a lot more cautious, more measured. That’s a good thing.
- I am on a 30 days to 1 year plan – be as accurate as possible about my past and present self. No exaggerations, no false claims, etc.
- I have been reflecting – why I do what I do. What changes do I expect from that reflection? Hoping to be a better person – who helps a lot, who keeps cheering entrepreneurs and keeps on speaking about my experiences.
Thanks. If you read it so far, you are a friend.
Are there unanswered question still – possibly, but I am tired so I am putting a rest to this.
I fully expect more questions, they never end – but I am not going to answer them any more. I am hoping this gives you enough of a gist of me and you can make up your mind based on our interactions not on published pieces.