Blog Post

Updated: Rediff Loses Another Senior Staffer; Vice President Zaki Ansari Quits

We thought CFO Joy Basu’s exit was the big news of the day from Rediff.com (NSDQ: REDF). It now emerges that Zaki Ansari, vice president for product development and one of the earliest members of the team, quit the internet firm this morning. Ansari worked at the Nasdaq-listed firm for 14 years now. He declined comment.

Ansari has been responsible for several of Rediff’s key properties, Rediff Moneywiz being the latest in a string of traffic pullers. There is no word yet on where he is headed, although we are hearing Web18 is the next destination. Web18 CEO Surya Mantha declined to comment.

There is usually some underlying factor playing out when senior long-time staffers like Ansari and Basu (who has spent seven years at the firm) decide to leave within a short span of time. Though we haven’t had much success with confirming this, we have heard, at industry gatherings and informally, that there has been a stream of exits from Rediff middle management in the past few months. If you know of such exits, please leave a comment, or use the anonymous tip box on the home page. When CEO Ajit Balakrishnan was asked about this at a recent concall, he said the company is well staffed and that his people are sought after in the market because of the excellent training they receive at Rediff.

Rediff recently went through a comprehensive design overhaul, which has drawn mixed reactions from people. Rediff.com is India’s largest portal.

Update: Following are some of the exits from Rediff over the past year or so. VP Jasmeet Gandhi, who worked at Rediff for 12 years, left to join Nokia (NYSE: NOK) India in July 2008. Senior vice president Uday Sodhi, who spent more than five years at Rediff, left in February this year. Manish Agarwal, VP, marketing, had left a little more than a year ago to join Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT). He subsequently joined UTV New Media as CEO. Arvindra Kanwal, chief media revenue officer, left in November 2008 after spending five years at Rediff. He joined Webaroo.com. VP strategic affairs Preeti Desai and VP finance Debabrata Saha also left the company during this period.

6 Responses to “Updated: Rediff Loses Another Senior Staffer; Vice President Zaki Ansari Quits”

  1. There have been 8 senior departures in the last 18 months and at least 30 senior level (functional head, VP & above) in the previous 6-7 years. Rediff.com had the best talent in the industry. A dipstick survey on the reason(s) for these departures will reveal a common thread. The management team is now more depleted than the site's home page itself.

  2. I believe its a consolidation phase for rediff and this happens when you getting in new dimensions. If you try to understand the new model, most likely things will rebounce in sometime.

  3. Much like the American market whose habits rediff has absorbed so admirably, I wonder if the next quarter will reveal some exceptional charges on the books to see off so many senior people?

    Having said that, it has to be said, as Surili above says, money in the bank has been a pity for rediff. It gave them too long a rope to make mistakes, plough their own path, and keep well meaning critics quite. Because everyone knew that rediff would ignore them and do what it wanted to in any case.
    The latest TV ad campaign is a case in point. It's weird, and an obvious case of self indulgence again. I am yet to meet anyone who has figured out just what the campaign sets out to do for rediff.
    I wouldn't be surprised if the firm sells out soon, at a value of well under $ 25 million without the cash on the books.

  4. I think the design change has been the final straw for some of these people. The CFO saw the writing on the wall as far as revenues for the next quarter went (projected down by more than 20% QOQ), the product head, whose baby it was, probably decided he's shot his best effort, and can't design his way out of this one. The key thing here is that Ajit is likely to have a completely new team to execute his dreams over the next three months, with almost no senior member from the founding team around anymore. It's a wonder they stuck together so long, and frankly, rediff shd have been learning these lessons 4 years back. I guess having 50 million dollars in the bank can make a lot of stuff plausible.