Last Updated on September 14, 2020
Ravi Adusumalli joined SAIF in 2002. Prior to this, he worked at Mobius Venture Capital, Credit Suisse, and Wasatch Funds. Ravi graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in Economics and Government.
|Born||14th Jan 1976|
|Alma mater||BA, Cornell University|
|Award||Midas Touch Award|
That’s Ravi Adusumalli—India’s most-successful tech investor.
As managing partner at SAIF Partners, the reticent Adusumalli has often struck gold. The venture capital firm’s total $70 million investment in Paytm is now estimated to be worth about $1.5 billion. SAIF also earned more than $300 million selling a part of its stake in Paytm to SoftBank.
Another big payout for Adusumalli came from India’s largest online travel agency Makemytrip, in which SAIF had invested about $25 million. The firm sold its entire investment in the Deep Kalra-promoted company this year, earning nearly $400 million.
The stake sales in Makemytrip and Paytm make for the largest cash exits in the relatively short history of India’s venture capital industry. SAIF currently manages two India dedicated funds, with total capital invested in the country pegged at about $1 billion.
“If there is somebody who has made money in India (from startups) it is Ravi,” said Parag Dhol, director at venture capital firm Inventus Capital. “He has shown good timing in backing companies at a very early stage.”
Those who know Adusumalli, who is in his early forties, describe him as a no-nonsense straightshooter who inspires both respect and fear from peers as well as entrepreneurs.
“He is a very disciplined investor. Most of the VCs in India are playing a mark-to-market game, pushing to raise the next funding round at a higher valuation from a new investor. Ravi does not do that,” said a person who has worked with Adusumalli closely.
Adusumalli graduated from Cornell University in 1998 with a degree in economics. Following that, he worked at Wasatch Funds and Credit Suisse First Boston and was then associate partner with Mobius Venture Capital, a $1.25-billion early-stage venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. He joined SAIF Partners in 2002.
Among his early successes was an investment in brokerage IL&FS Investsmart, which HSBC acquired in 2008. That earned Adusumalli a spot in the Forbes Midas list of top investors in 2008. The previous year, he led SAIF’s investment in the National Stock Exchange and has been pushing the bourse’s management towards an initial public offering of its shares.
Since the turn of this decade, Adusumalli has focused on consumer internet companies, leveraging the experience of SAIF Partners’ affiliate in China.
What has allowed Adusumalli to keep a low profile is that he lives near Salt Lake City in Utah, United States, where he went to high school, away from the Indian startup ecosystem’s glare on Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Silicon Valley. He travels to India every 4-6 weeks, typically to attend board meetings and meet new startups.
Those who know Adusumalli believe he has only gained from staying away from the hubs of startup activity. “He understands the difference between noise and signal,” one of them said. According to two entrepreneurs ET spoke with, Adusumalli’s advice to startup founders mostly has to do with strategy, top-level hiring and controlling cash burn rates. He does not delve on operational nittygritties, an area where he doesn’t have much experience. “His advice to founders typically revolves around high–level strategy and he doesn’t interfere in the day-to-day operations,” said one of these entrepreneurs, who has worked with Adusumalli.
Ravi Adusumalli, Managing Partner of SAIF Partners, being awarded the Midas Touch Award for Best Investor at The Economic Times Startup Awards 2017, was probably delayed recognition of an investor the public barely knows about.
Given his long aversion to giving media interviews, little is known about the man, who has backed, and then exited, some of the biggest startup ventures that have emerged from this country.