Rajat Gupta’s Lust for Zeros

By Anita Raghavan in NYT

Rajat Gupta

It is worth reading saga of Gupta and Rajaratnam , two highly achieved and high-profile Wall Street Gurus of Indian descent,  who were seduced by high society and greed and were recently convicted of insider trading.

“Gupta embodied the generation of Indians that the academic Vijay Prashad has called the “twice blessed” — those who benefited from both India’s independence in 1947 and the 1965 overturning of a United States law that had restricted Indian immigration to 100 people each year. Gupta was a boy in the 1950s, when the Indian Institutes of Technology were established to produce a new generation of engineers. After earning degrees from I.I.T. Delhi and Harvard Business School, he received a job offer at McKinsey during the rise of the corporate consulting industry. In 1994, when Gupta was only 45, he became the first Indian C.E.O. of a major American company. He “pioneered a new way of leveraging the firm’s intellectual capital,” recalls Jeffrey Skilling, his colleague from 1979 to 1990, who later went on to become the chief executive of Enron. “I think Rajat was a shoo-in for election to managing director, and frankly I don’t think anyone had a chance against him. He was that good,” wrote Skilling in an e-mail from federal prison in Littleton, Colo., where he is serving a 24-year sentence for his role in Enron’s collapse.”

In the paragraph below an interesting insight and caution by Gupta on love and seduction of money;

“Speaking at Columbia University around this time, Gupta reflected on his new ambition. “When I look at myself, yeah, I am driven by money,” he said. “And when I live in this society, you know, you do get fairly materialistic, so I look at that. I am disappointed. I am probably more materialistic today than I was before, and I think money is very seductive.” He continued: “You have to watch out for it, because the more you have it, you get used to comforts, and you get used to, you know, big houses and vacation homes and going and doing whatever you want, and so it is very seductive. However much you say that you will not fall into the trap of it, you do fall into the trap of it.”

“While Gupta departed McKinsey with a fortune, he was now mingling with a crowd that included Bill Gates, Henry Kravis and Henry M. Paulson Jr., then Goldman’s chief executive, with whom he traveled to Indonesia to see the Komodo dragons. For many of these men, $100 million was not rich; it was simply the price to play. If Gupta wanted to compete on the same level as Stephen A. Schwarzman, who would go on to give $100 million to the New York Public Library, or Sandy Weill, whom he knew from the Weill Cornell Medical College board, he had to be a billionaire.”

“Rajaratnam was also an expert at preying on his sources’ weaknesses. His first major target was an Intel marketing executive named Roomy Khan. He caught her attention by mentioning that his wife, Asha, was a Punjabi Indian, like her. Then he reeled her in by promising a well-paying job at Galleon in return for early readings of revenue indicators at Intel and, later, tips about acquisitions, like the Blackstone Group’s bid to buy Hilton Hotels. (She found out about the latter from a South Asian Moody’s analyst, a roommate of her cousin’s.) Rajaratnam also persuaded his old Wharton School classmate Rajiv Goel, a perennially frustrated executive at Intel’s treasury department, to feed him information in exchange for introductions to his high-powered friends. Rajaratnam’s most prized recruit, however, was Anil Kumar, a former classmate from Wharton and a graduate of the I.I.T. system who worked as a technology consultant at McKinsey.” Click Link for full article;


Posted By F. Sheikh