Govind Rajan, the former CEO of Freecharge and Airtel Payments Bank, and COO of edtech startup Cuemath, passed away on Monday night (January 18), as per social media posts from some of his close associates and friends.
The cause of death is still unknown. Freecharge founder Kunal Shah was one of the first to tweet about Rajan’s passing away.
The 46-year-old had a career spanning over two decades, where he held roles across marketing, sales operations, customer development, CMO-level and CEO-level. At the time of his death, he was the COO of the Bengaluru-based Cuemath, which is backed by Google.
After completing his education at the Coimbatore Hindustan College of Engineering and Technology in 1995, Rajan moved to Indian Institute of Foreign Trade for his Masters in International Business (MIB).
He started off his career from Hindustan Unilever, where he worked for 15 years across various roles and rose to the rank of regional category Vice President of South Asia, Skin Cleansing (soaps). He had a two-year-short sprint in Bharti Airtel, where he started off as the CMO of Marketing and concurrently held the position of CEO of Airtel Payments Bank (then, Airtel Money).
Rajan flagged off his journey with the Indian startups in 2015 by leading FreeCharge, after Snapdeal acquired the company from Kunal Shah and Sandeep Tandon for $400 Mn — the largest M&A deal in the Indian startup ecosystem at the time.
“It’s hard to process this loss as it’s so hard to believe someone who was so full of life to be no more just like that. Life is so fragile,” CRED founder Shah tweeted, mourning the death of Rajan.
Rajan was instrumental in Snapdeal’s acquisition of FreeCharge. Snapdeal founder and CEO Kunal Bahl said, “Mourning the loss of my friend, Govind Rajan. He was an incredible colleague – brilliant, hardworking & committed. If there was one person who I would have happily worked under, it would have been Govind. His sudden passing comes as a shock. My prayers are with his family.”
Besides his stints leading tech companies, Rajan was a keen investor in early-stage ventures, with D2C healthcare startups PeeSafe and WellVersed being his two investments.
PeeSafe founder and CEO Vikas Bagaria condoled Rajan’s death, saying “His sudden passing comes as a shock and our prayers are with the family. One person I always looked upto to get advice whenever in doubt because of his immense knowledge in consumer insights and helpful nature. He was always so happy to see what I’ve been building.”
Shubhranshu Singh, global head of marketing at Royal Enfield and a friend of Rajan, tweeted, “A man of deep intellect, vast erudition, enormous capacity for hard work and a high character. Govind – we had so much to discuss. I can’t believe this. May you find eternal bliss and peace.’