End of Ramrajya @ Sify

The abrupt departure of R Ramaraj as MD and CEO of Sify Limited has taken the IT industry by surprise. By Venkatachari Jagannathan.

Chennai: R Ramaraj (56) quits Sify Limited as its managing director and chief executive in pursuit of other interests. The abrupt announcement took everybody by surprise. However its timing - when the company for the second quarter in succession had hit the profitability road - and the manner in which it was made, raised many an eyebrow… a bit like citing the phrase that every company law student first learns, 'men may come and men may go; but the company goes on for ever'.

With 40-per cent stakeholder Infinity Capital Ventures wanting its representative at the helm, it was obvious that there could not be two swords in one scabbard.

Though one research report welcomes the top management changes, Indian internet industry watchers would readily agree that Ramaraj is synonymous with Sify. For he is one of Sify's co-founders and had contributed 10 per cent of the initial capital when it was started in 1995.

"In many ways we laid the path for others to travel. We were the second Indian company to get listed in Nasdaq. The first was Infosys Technologies Limited. After that it was easy for others," he recalls. At that time there were no role models for the company to follow. The industry was new and was getting readymade managerial talent to manage the internet business was a challenge.

"We brought in achievers from different fields. They learnt the internet business and built Sify. The work environment was fantastic and the result is the brand you see today," he adds.

When one looks back the path that Sify has traversed, the IndiaWorld deal in 1999 would be the major milestone. The company acquired 13 websites for a whopping Rs500 crore. With the dotcom industry going bust, the deal didn't result in any major gains for the company. Till last fiscal, the company's turnover hadn't touched the Rs500-crore mark. Besides, many of the IndiaWorld websites do not exist.