Despite its commitment to back Indian startups through funds and reskilling youth, tech giant Wipro does not feel too confident enough about acquiring startups due to the company’s work culture.
Speaking at an event in IIT Bombay, Wipro’s chairman Rishad Premji noted the company’s structure and process-oriented approach might destroy startups’ quick approach. “The speed and efficiency with which a young startup can pivot and reprioritise, a big company does not move with that agility,” Premji noted.
“I don’t think we’ve had the guts yet to go out there and buy a very young company. Lots of M&As [mergers and acquisitions] as a company but not the guts to buy a small, very very young company. We think we would destroy them,” he said.
He also specified that instead of acquiring startups, it will focus on taking their products and solution to the global market. Meanwhile, the company has not turned away from other opportunities to help startups across.
Wipro’s Startup Fund And Portfolio
Wipro launched its own venture fund of $100 Mn in 2015. Under the Fund I, Wipro invested $24.5 Mn in nine startups till 2017. These startups were all based out of the US and included Vectra Networks, Emailage Corporation, Altizon Systems, Vicarious, Drivestream Inc, Avaamo, IntSights, Talena, and TradeShift.
Till 2019, Wipro’s Fund I was allocated to 16 startups in the US, Israel and India. Recently, the company announced the close of Fund II at $100 Mn to invest in early to mid-stage companies. Fund II will focus on startups building innovative enterprise software solutions across key areas — cybersecurity, application development, analytics, cloud infrastructure, test automation, and AI, among others.
In September 2019, Wipro Enterprises launched another venture fund through its FMCG brand Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting. The Wipro Consumer Care Ventures looks to invest in startups working in the consumer brand space.
This includes new-age startups in digital, ecommerce, and other ventures that adopt an innovative approach to reach consumers. In January 2020, the Wipro allocated $28 Mn (INR 200 Cr) consumer care venture to invest in 10 startups.
In December 2019, Wipro also partnered with the trade association National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) to set up a platform to train Indian students in emerging technologies — artificial intelligence (AI), data science, internet of things (IoT) and cyber securities. Under the partnership, the duo will be training 10K students across 20 universities in India.