From Nikesh Arora to Infosys’ Narayana Murthy, tech minds turn to startups

By: | Published: June 22, 2016 6:34 AM

Arora, a long-term employee of Google who joined SoftBank in 2014, drove in a great deal of investments into the start-up sector here, giving a good run for the money to Tiger Global's portfolio companies.

Arora, a long-term employee of Google who joined SoftBank in 2014, drove in a great deal of investments into the start-up sector here, giving a good run for the money to Tiger Global's portfolio companies. (AP)Arora, a long-term employee of Google who joined SoftBank in 2014, drove in a great deal of investments into the start-up sector here, giving a good run for the money to Tiger Global’s portfolio companies.
(AP)

Technology leaders in India have long been at the forefront of investing in exciting start-ups, a trend that is only growing each passing year, reports PP Thimmaya in Bengaluru. Nikesh Arora, who stepped down from SoftBank on Tuesday, UIDAI chief Nandan Nilekani, Google India head Rajan Anandan, Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy, Wipro chairman Azim Premji and several others are keen investors in the Indian start-up space, igniting the sector’s explosive growth.

Arora, a long-term employee of Google who joined SoftBank in 2014, drove in a great deal of investments into the start-up sector here, giving a good run for the money to Tiger Global’s portfolio companies.

Arora helped SoftBank invest some $4 billion in various start-ups around the world during his tenure and in 2014 and 2015, SoftBank invested in more than half a dozen e-commerce start-ups in India like Snapdeal, Oyo Rooms, Ola, Grofers, etc. Arora also has a personal investment in Snapdeal.

Google India’s Anandan is probably the most active angel investor in India. Of his 38 personal investments globally, many have been made in India including those in Webengage, Dhruva, Capillary, etc. Similarly, TV Mohandas Pai, former board member of Infosys, who runs a private equity fund, has also made personal investments in 18 Indian start-ups in 2015 alone. His portfolio companies include Cimplyfive, Kaaryah, Delightful Gourmet, etc.

The Infy founders — Nandan Nilekani, NR Narayana Murthy, S Gopalakrishnan and SD Shibulal — have all been active investors in start-ups. Nilekani recently invested in B2B sourcing and financial services start-up Power2SME, Let’s Venture and Sedemac Mechatronics. Murthy, who started his own venture capital and PE firm Catamaran in 2010, has invested in start-ups like Hector Beverages, Health Spring and Innoviti Payment Solution, besides forming a joint venture with Amazon’s e-commerce business. Meanwhile, Kris Gopalakrishnan and Shibulal have jointly founded Axilor Ventures, which has invested in couple of start-ups like MUrgency and Easyfix.

Former Infosys CFO and angel investor V Balakrishnan told FE that the trend reflects a “practioner-led investment” in India, which is quite similar to what is practised in the Silicon Valley. “This is a good trend, as these technocrats bring in knowledge, experience and a wide network of connections which help start-ups in scaling the business faster.”

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