January 18, 2009

Satyam:Forgotten aspects, unasked questions

Some of the aspects that were either overlooked or forgotten:
1. Employees welfare: Though I hear that the "spirit of satyam" campaign is on, and it is trying to instil morale in the minds of the employees, it is still seen as senior management activity. High time the mid and junior level employees actually start something to voice their collective opinions and discuss concerns. Still "Economic Times" is acting as a proxy-HR, and until they get another sensation, it may conctinue. High time, associates pull up their socks, to do something for themselves without relying on HR or Senior Management, until the crisis tides over

2. Overseas employees: Off late, in the recent 3 years span, almost all front running Indian IT Service Providers have started recruiting locally. Though the concerns are being addressed at the Indian level, of whom we see lot of news items, there are hardly any interviews or voices of the overseas employees - like american nationals, brits, french people etc. It is important to address them as well, not just as Satyam employees, but also as confidence building measures in the minds of overseas propsetcs to join other running Indian IT Service providers. This will definitely be a stumbling block, for the industry itself, considering that control is not relinquished to foreign national and board level decisions are never consulted.

3. Infy vs TCS: We get to see at least one opinion or other, in the media, said by some person connected with Infy, but we have not seen a single word, not even a reaction by the TCS. It is worthwhile to note World Bank contracts have already been given to TCS, and SFI may well be on its way. As an onlooker of IT industry, it is interesting for me to watch the stark contrast nature of reaction by these two Indian IT Toppers.

4. Large scale defections: I think this is just waiting to happen, with people at Project Manager levels, moving in with their IT teams to MNCs. Losers might be Indian IT Service Providers

5. Senior Management: has been silent in the media. It is but natural, they have gag orders on themselves. However, what is intriguing is Business Heads of profitable (???)..ok...high-revenue generating divisions like SAP, Testing and Manufacturing verticals have hardly uttered anything.

6. Ex-senior management: There are many senior people and their teams, who held exec level positions until about a year (or two) back, have not uttered a single word in the press or elsewhere. These are the people who headed successful units in the company and held director level

7. Satyam Historical Analysis - by the media and analysts is still flawed. Dig any person been in satyam between 1998-2006, they will have stories to tell. Whether there is anything bad/doubtful is a different story, and it is not the intent here. COncept is Satyam withdrew its stake from Dun & Bradstreet Satyam Software (which eventualy became Cognizant tech) to become Satyam Computers. In 1999-2000 time period, there were 5 Satyam entities in the market - Satyam Computer Services Ltd, Satyam Renaissance, Satyam Enterprise Solutions, Satyam Spark and Visioncompass. The 2, 3 & 4 entities merged into 1st entity to become single strong entity called "Satyam COmputer Services Ltd". They then ventured into ISP business, as Satyam Online, which got rebranded into SifyOnline later. Sify was doing web design etc, along with Internet Service proviing and host of other Infradtructure offerings. Around 2002 and later, Satyam had SCSL, Sify and Visioncompass(VC). For VC, they even had a couple of enteprise clients, but they were loss making anyway. VC, as a tool, was the brainchild of Raju, which was built on the lines of Balanced Scorecard, and had some xcellent aspects about the concept. Except for Raju, no one in sneior management believed in it. The company got eventually closed down. But then, Satyam ventured into BPO space, and established Nipuna. Now they had SCSL, Sify and Nipuna. Of this, Nipuna did not break even for quite sometime - for 2 years I guess, and had no clients. They had SCSL as their only client. (Yes really!!!)

Around 2003, Satyam consolidated the software/web development business into SCSL, and Sify was fully in ISP and Infra business. Thus Satyam ehnaced its portfolio strength-by-strength. It is also possible the operating margins were simply getting eroded into such too many companies, and it was also easier to siphon off money. Apart from these, Satyam also had joint venture with TRW for engg services as SMTI, with the-then tainted Computer Associates as Satyam CA. Guess, it is hard to discern what kind of services were actually being delivered out of these companies, and their account books are how clean. Sify was then divested and sold off by Rajus to another Raju Vegesna. Then Satyam got into some acquisitions to shore up their strength in areas like Datawarehousing, BI etc. Each and every investment was so strategic, it is so hard to believe, Raju dared to risk the running business. Given the nature of such changes year-after-year, it was also not surprising to long-time Satyam followers they wanted to divest into real estate to derisk. It is but a different thing, the evaluations were too much, and thus began the snowball. If any analyst, consultant or media thoroughly track this history through their financial stories as well, it might be easier to see a pattern

8. Naxalites and Land mafia: It is interesting so far, any story about Maytas talks about Raju and his political bribing etc in the land transactions, or their siphoning off of Satyam funds (alleged) to this entity had been touched upon, has not tracked the usual suspects of Land mafia around this. Another angle to Raju's sudden confession is could his life been threatened by land mafia or naxalites, and he saw prison as safe avenue? Many of his lands are in AP and in orissa in naxalite infested areas, and naxalites who always were headache to Naidu regime, because he promoted IT, never reall came in news in getting into lo ggerheads with Rajus. Could there have been specifc angle to this?

9. Meryll Lynch Evaluation and Revelation to SEBI: If Raju was "riding the tiger" and didnt know when to get off, and if Srinivas Vadlamani merely signed statements given to him by accounting team, and if Ram Mynampati questioned Raju about non-existent of cash to pay the salaries, and that is when Raju confessed, why then did they have to appoint a 3rd party like ML to do due diligence, when they would very well knew they were likely to be exposed? Were ML also offered any bribe to overlook? This aspect needs probing too.

10. Employment sureties and other benefits: At Satyam, there is a bond for new joinees , and they are asked to pay a surety of somewhere in lakhs. Are those money safe? And what about stuffs like PF etc? Were they being paid as well? Anyone wanting to withdraw from PF account, can they withdraw or are they frozen?

11. IT Ministry: The much hyped IT Ministry, ministered by the cohort of CareNoNidhi, Mr. Ra(Koo)ja earlier headed by Mr. Dayanidhi MORON, has not uttered a single word. Every other ministry had something to say, except for this ministry. How come? and why no one in the media questioned about this? Spectrum cat will be out, is it?

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