When Patni Computer Systems was founded by Narendra Patni and his two brothers — Gajendra and Ashok — back in the 70’s, Jeff Bezos was barely in school and the likes of Nandan Nilekani and Narayana Murthy were on their payroll.
Earlier this week, Ashok Patni’s joint venture (VC) with Amazon made headlines, bringing the name back in focus after years of relative anonymity since the acquisition of Patni Computer Systems by iGate in 2011.
The Amazon-Catamaran JV had led to the creation of Cloudtail, which is Amazon’s leading seller. Amazon had to look for a similar partnership with Patni after a government directive forbidding any seller from having more than 25 per cent share of sales.
Amazon India launched a JV with Ashok and his son Apoorva’s Zodiac Wealth Advisors, which pumped in Rs 100 crore in the Rs 196-crore partnership to toughen the customer services business of the e-commerce giant. Zodiac Wealth, which has 51 per cent stake in the business, is one of the various offshoots of the Patni family investment ventures.
Ashok and Apoorva also have another venture fund Currae which has invested almost Rs 100 crore across 16 health-tech firms. These include BabyChakra, Pharmarack, Mapmygenome and PlexusMD, among others. The firm was founded in 2011 and initially focused on tie-ups with health-care providers rather than its current avatar of full-fledged health-tech VC. Currae now plans to expand into specialty hospitals with a target of Rs 500 crore investment by 2020. The father-son duo were not available for comments.
“Patni family was one of the pioneers to bring the culture of family office in the forefront. While others like Infosys also joined the family office portfolio, the concept was not that well known before Patnis did it,” said Natarajan.
Even when the brothers ventured into angel investments they continued to be wholly involved in the decision making process with each one having some role in all of the family businesses. Gajendra with his sons Amit and Arihant set up RAAY Global, a family investment office, which has investments in five companies. It invested in the UK-based Campden Family Connect, Waterfield Advisors, Nirvana Advisors, a VC for digital start-ups, Elysium Investment Advisors that focuses on hedge funds and a Big Data fund called Hive. They also have seed investments in the Bombay Shirt Company, VelvetCase, Wellness Forever Medicare and White Owl Brewery.
“We focus on consumer internet and enterprise technology as we have always been a part of this ecosystem and we understand it,” said Arihant. Now their new fund Ideaspring Capital is actively looking for start-ups to fund in enterprise tech.
The only scion of the family tree who remains elusive is Anirudh, son of late Narendra Patni. Anirudh was a senior executive at Patni Computer systems before the acquisition and has since been involved with Patni Holdings LLC and Karya Capital wealth management.