Investors keep a close watch as Mu Sigma founder-couple splits

Venkatesh Ganesh Bengaluru | Updated on January 20, 2018

Industry experts foresee internal implications for some time at least

Even as investors at Mu Sigma keep a close watch on the recent developments within the company, there is a possibility of bringing in professional mangers at the helm of affairs.

For one of India’s unsung unicorn companies, the latest development could strike a jarring note. The issue at hand involves the marital fallout between the two founders Dhiraj Rajaram and Ambiga Rajaram, his wife.

Investors are worried since both were actively involved in the business. Both the promoters hold approximately 47-per cent stake in the company and Ambiga was recently elevated as CEO and Dhiraj as Chairman. Dhiraj, a product of University of Chicago Booth School of Business, has been instrumental in getting deals from companies such as Amazon and Mercedes Benz, while Ambiga has been the person running the ship.

Industry watchers opine that this separation will have its implications internally for some time at least. “It will be uncomfortable for employees as the structures can possibly change,” said Kris Lakshmikanth, CEO of Headhunters India. It is a case of whether personal and professional relationships can be firewalled, which is not always possible and the question is when it will come to affect the organisation, according to Prasanth Nair, Managing Partner and Country Head of leadership consulting and executive search company InHelm.

Legal complaint

The development also comes at a time when one of the former investors has dragged the company to court over false revenue reporting. In a complaint made at a Chicago court, Aon Corporation founder Patrick G Ryan claimed that Mu Sigma downplayed its own growth prospects, as a result of which he sold back his stake in the company. As a result he claimed to have lost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to reports.

All these developments may force some senior-level management changes in the company, opine industry watchers. “In all likelihood, an external professional management will be brought in to steer the ship forward,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, Analyst at Greyhound Research. Others like Lakshmikanth believe that Ambiga might be asked to go as Dhiraj is still instrumental in getting deals and devising the company strategy going forward.

Investment firms such as General Atlantic, Sequoia Capital, Fidelity Investments and Mastercard have invested about $200 million in Chicago-based Mu Sigma, since the last eight years or so. “We are talking to them about this and will see to it that this does not impact business going forward,” said an early investor in the company who did not wish to be named. General Atlantic, Sequoia Capital and Fidelity Investments were not reachable.

Published on May 31, 2016

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