Browse by year:
April - 2000 - issue > Cover Feature
Friday, November 21, 2008

Age 45
Place of Birth Chennai

Residence San Francisco

Family Wife and 2 daughters

Came to the U.S. 1976

Education B.Com.; Bachelor of General Law, Madras University; MBA, Kent State University

First job and career TRW. Inc.

Company started Zoho in 1999

Year did an IPO First IPO was Baan Company, 1995

Year became millionaire Decline to answer

Favorite charity SHG Foundation

Lifetime goals Have fun at whatever you do

Net worth Decline to answer

Philosophy of life Give back to family and society

Most inspired by My late father

Most excited by Creating successful companies

Most expensive thing ever bought Decline to answer

M.R. Rangaswami is like no other Indian in Silicon Valley. He is not an engineer. He earned a law degree in India and a management degree in the US before venturing into the Valley because in the 1980s “people said software was the big thing.”

He is also like few others in the Valley. Four years ago he walked off, asking himself “what I had accomplished besides a successful career.” Leaving Baan options worth millions, vesting over the next four years, on the table, Rangaswami retreated to a home in the Catalina Mountains in Tucson, Arizona.

He returned, sooner rather than later, but this time on his own terms. No more 80-hour weeks or 300,000 air miles a year. He also started a family. When we tried to reach him Rangaswami was busy playing “Mr. Mom,” as he called it, while his wife was sick. During the brief interview, Rangaswami, speaking from his home office overlooking San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, said he was doubling his leisure time this year to six months.

In the industry, Rangaswami is best known for his expertise in marketing enterprise software. As an industry magazine once wrote, “he knows everybody in the enterprise software space, from [Oracle Corp.’s] Larry Ellison down to the guy with a new startup.”

After a brief stint with a company that made plastic components for aerospace clients, Rangaswami joined an enterprise software maker, Madic, in California and quickly moved on to work for major players such as Oracle.

Baan, which made its hugely successful initial public offering in 1995, was the high point of Rangaswami’s career. He spent a little over a year at the company, experiencing the extremes of both startups (80-hour weeks) and corporate (“horrendous travel”) lifestyles. He came to question such a lifestyle when he was doing a mundane task: tracking expense bills.

“I was gone for a week and had only three days of hotel accommodation and suddenly I realized it was because on the other nights I was sleeping on flights,” he recalled. Besides the lifestyle, Rangaswami said a “driving concern” was his desire to start a family; he realized he would never be able to do that holding such a job. Like many others, Rangaswami initially considered taking a few months off from work, but came to the conclusion that it would never work.

Since returning to the industry, Rangaswami serves as advisor to a number of companies including i2 Technologies and Aspect Development, the companies that recently announced a merger, the largest ever in software history.

He also started, with Constantin Delivanis, angel-investing group Sand Hill Group, which has funded several successful companies including Aspect and Junglee.

In his new role, Rangaswami invests in a number of startups and mentors young entrepreneurs. He takes heart from the fact that his strategic advice makes a “life or death” difference in the case of these small companies, whereas in a bigger corporation it may have much less impact and even go unnoticed.

Share on LinkedIn