BENGALURU: Some of India's biggest startups including Flipkart, Ola and Paytm are wooing global leaders in technology and business to join their boards, as they strive to cope with challenges of rising complexity and scale in their companies. Among those in demand: PepsiCo Chief Executive Indra Nooyi, payments startup Square's head of engineering Gokul Rajaram and Google Senior Vice-president Sundar Pichai.
"It's quite lonely at the top—investors are bringing more money with subtle expectations about big exits, and there aren't many in the management who can be trusted for balanced advise," said a founder at one of these startups, requesting anonymity. "These names have been through cycles of growth pangs and can even help us balance investor pressures with day-to-day management."
Paytm last month made three high-profile appointments to its board—Ruchi Sanghvi, the first woman engineer at Facebook, WhatsApp global business head Neeraj Arora and InMobi Founder Naveen Tewari—to compete with the big boys of online retail in India.
Tuesday, Ola appointed Arun Sarin, former CEO at telecom giant Vodafone, as an independent director. "(Sarin's) experience in management and in growing large businesses is invaluable to us," Ola Co-founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said. "Arun not only brings global perspective, but also very deep understanding of emerging markets like India."
After raising billions of dollars in funding and poaching top talent from companies like Google, India's fast-growing ecommerce companies are now beefing their boards for technology strategy and execution.
"The best companies usually have the best boards and they have to work very hard to attract the top players," said Vivek Wadhwa, an entrepreneur-turned-academician who advises startups. "Now that there are so many billion-dollar startups (in India), I expect we will see many senior executives from US companies joining their boards."
Paytm Founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma expects India will have about five emerging technology firms creating more than $50 billion (about Rs 3 lakh crore) in wealth, and they will all need experienced executives on their boards who have helped build such companies.
"It is a sign of playing long-term and faith that credible business leaders are putting in new-age business models," he said.
Executive search firms specialising in scouting top board talent said startup founders are also looking to add international credibility to their boards. "Some of the things which these founders are looking for in their (boards) are international reputation which can bring global credibility to these companies, (and) global businessbuilding experience which can help these companies to build global scale, systems and processes," said Anshuman Das, founder of executive search firm Careernet.
Ravi Venkatesan, an independent director on Infosys' board, said young companies need to strengthen their boards with veterans who can provide adult supervision when necessary. "Increasingly, smart entrepreneurs are realising this," said Venkatesan.
CITATION FROM ECONOMIC TIMES : http://goo.gl/A0BD9u
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