The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

February - 2005 - issue > On The Cover

SIFY: Not another ISP

Harish Revanna
Friday, February 4, 2005
Harish Revanna
Bolt from the blue. Black Sunday. Tsunami sepulture, are a few euphemisms referring to the calamity by the recent massive tidal wave. While the enormity of the destruction stopped even verbal communication in Cuddalore— the second hardest-hit district of Tamil Nadu, there was one company that was quick to provide wireless-internet connectivity for communication. It knew, for one, that the NGOs and the government needed connectivity to facilitate relief work, which included procuring food, clothes and water, in a land with no communication. It had the muscle to give—that muscle always giving first, before being asked—placing the company in good stead.

Meet Sify [Nasdaq : Sify], an Internet, network and e-commerce services company. Erstwhile Satyam Infoway, it built the first IP network in India to catalyze the growth of Internet in India. Now in its seventh year, the company is delving deeply into the Indian Internet market. So deeply that no one ever thought a services firm could transform an unfriendly land of Internet to a money machine. “Name something that could be done with Internet today and you have named Sify,” is something that the company claims.

A fortnight ago, the company announced its third quarter revenue of Rs 94.5 crores—the highest ever since the bubble burst. But what is really astonishing is the resurrection Rajasekhar Ramaraj, its conceiver and CEO, brought into being while the rumors of Sify’s sellout was ripe. Sify with zero debt and a cash balance of Rs 158.6 crores is the only private Internet service provider (ISP) in the country which is cash profitable—last quarter it accounted Rs 2.08 crore. Although Sify is just a small company with little profits, it has made the ISPs, Telcos, IT, BPO and even portal companies to look up and take stock of its competition—the company leads HCL Infinet and GTL in VPN services, vies Reliance and Tatas in Cyber cafes, snaps at Bharti, VSNL and BSNL in home broadband market, nips Rediff and Indiatimes in the portal business, and contends HCL Comnet and Wipro in infrastructure management.

Ramaraj, 54, is cranking up his company to face each competitor fiercely. He knows his company will be unbeatable in the near future, and innovation alone can take him to the top, where all competitors wish to be.

Craig Barrett once said that it’s the paranoid who survive. Sify seems to be doing just that in a country like India. “The Indian market is so paranoid that you don’t know what really works. Especially if you are player in the Internet domain, you’d better play whatever can be played,” he says, describing Sify’s strategy. To do this, Sify ventured into the three most important areas of business—consumer, corporate and the international—with one driving principle: Making the Internet work for you.

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