Zoli arranged a lunch with Sridhar Vembu when I was in the Bay Area last week. I had met Sridhar briefly once before, and knew him as the CEO of Zoho, the innovative Office 2.0 solution. But as we went back to his office and he showed me the other products his developers in Chennai, India have developed, I was amazed at the variety, which made the lunch buffet at the Indian restaurant we had just left look sparse.
His company, AdventNet has a wide range of application management, security and other software. But I was even more impressed with his ethics and philosophy. I asked him what his exit plans were - he said he had already had a few offers, but his real passion is to build a large Indian software company. As I have written before India has produced a number of successful services firms like TCS and Satyam, but few successful software companies.
His view towards customers is epitomized in the quote from Gandhi on his site. His pricing philosophy is summarized in the guest column he wrote a few weeks ago. He sponsors Jambav a site aimed at kids for special needs. He hires teenage kids who realistically have zero hope of ever going to college and ever being hired by India's services firms, and encourages them to code and test.
Ok, so he probably will never approach YouTube's valuation and media appeal. But it sure is a treat to meet an entrepreneur who marches to a different beat. Customer before investor. R&D before marketing. Values before valuation.