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|March 10, 2000|
Another first for Relativity
A P Kamath
Vivek Wadhwa, who got former KGB agents to work with his American firm about two years ago, has now entered a financial deal with a top Indian company.
How many times do you see an Indian company investing in an American company, Wadhwa asks.
For, his two-year-old firm, Relativity Technologies , which has been featured in such influential publications as Wall Street Journal and Forbes, has received a substantial investment from NIIT, a leading global IT solutions company.
Could it be a case of a man biting the dog, wonders Wadhwa, CEO, Relativity, who will not divulge details of the investment.
A $ 207 million IT Solutions Corporation, NIIT is rapidly transitioning itself into an e-Commerce Solutions company. Headquartered in New Delhi, NIIT employs 3,700 people in 31 countries through wholly owned subsidiaries in the US, Europe, Japan and India.
Relativity Technologies, an Internet infrastructure vendor specializing in legacy to e-Business transformation solutions, is based in Cary, North Carolina. The media took notice of it when Wadhwa, the CEO of the firm, signed an agreement with the Russian government to make some key sectors, like aviation, Y2K compliant. Some publications joked about how Wadhwa had managed to con several former KGB men to join his company for a song.
A few months ago, Forbes.com named 42-year-old Wadhwa among "eight people in the technology industry who may be off your radar screen now, but who will be trailblazers in the year to come".
It added: "Wadhwa is sitting on the next technology gold mine: legacy system transformation. Wall Street is already in love with integration and the Internet, and he's ready to jump on the bandwagon."
For two years in a row, Wadhwa, who has been educated in India, Australia and the United States, has been named among the top influential CEOs.
Wadhwa, who plans to take the company public this year, could have a huge windfall, says Forbes magazine.
Forbes quoted industry analysts who believe Relativity may have a better approach than its competition and could emerge a leader in the space.
"A lot of companies like Seec and Reasoning are using a more complete analysis but [are] not getting more business value out of it," Forbes quoted Jim Duggan, vice president and research director of application development and management at GartnerGroup, as saying. He said that Relativity focuses on only certain areas of the analysis process.
"That's Relativity's edge: They're more cost-effective because they skip a lot of the steps that are technically expensive.
"Vivek has always been a very able marketer and a hell of a salesman," says Duggan.
In October 1998, Intel Corporation became an equity shareholder in Relativity Technologies.
Wadhwa said the NIIT investment -- along with another announced this week by Nichimen America -- signifies continued recognition of Relativity Technologies' leadership position in the burgeoning legacy to e-Business marketplace.
NIIT joins other corporations like Intel, Noro-Moseley Partners and the Wakefield Group that have also invested in Relativity Technologies.
Relativity's solutions automate the transformation of legacy applications to modern e-Business platforms. Its RescueWare product helps companies transform mission-critical legacy applications to more flexible and cost-effective platforms. In addition to the investment, Relativity Technologies and NIIT will also partner to enable businesses to quickly modernize legacy applications and transform them into Net-enabling technologies.
"Helping brick and mortar companies advance the legacy to e-Business modernization process is a basic business strategy that we share with Relativity Technologies -- which was an important factor in our investment decision," said C N (Madhu) Madhusudan, NIIT's president of Strategic Alliances.
"Our investment further indicates the importance of expanding our US presence in high-growth markets like legacy to e-Business, and we believe that our partnership with Relativity Technologies will enable us to offer a complete solution in this emerging marketplace."
Wadhwa said NIIT's investment in Relativity not only validates his vision but also supports the market opportunity that the firm is pursuing.
"NIIT and Relativity Technologies will continue to partner and work together to bring innovative solutions to market - helping leading companies maximize their success in the online marketplace."
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