Anil Ambani and his tech dreams

Recently, I came across a piece on the Time Magazine website, authored by Simon Robinson (,8599,1817222,00.html), wherein Simon talked about Anil Ambani’s Hollywood dreams. The story talked of how there was a probability of Steven Spielberg and ADAG coming together, to be more precise; “Reliance providing between $500 million and $600 million to Spielberg’s Dreamworks SKG, financing that would allow Dreamworks to split from Viacom Inc’s Paramount Pictures.”
As, I went through the piece; my admiration for the junior Ambani brother went a few notches higher, not as much for making the phriangi Jurassic Park director indebted to us Indians, but more for the mileage that he seems to be deriving even before there was pen put to paper on the deal. Imagine WSJ and Time Magazine discussing the story and carrying them in their publications. The only other Indian businessman, who achieved this feat recently was Ratan Tata; but then he had to build a ‘Nano’ for the same after investing billions of dollars. And this is the very reason, I ‘kind off’ like Ambani, his media-savviness.

Unlike Branson (Vijay Mallya’s role model), Anil Ambani exudes a very no-nonsense business image. Each bit of news that emanates from his PR machinery subtly reminds that he is a “Wharton” MBA. The press handouts will have an image of him sitting in his corporate office, smiling benignly at you. He will hold joint press conferences with the Hoi polloi, be it Steve Ballmer or Bill Clinton. Then, of course, there are marathons that “fitness freak” Ambani runs and the innumerable trophies that he keeps accepting all the time. Some months back, there was immense coverage of the fact how Ambani Jr. had become a trillionnaire and also the 6th richest person in the world (based on the valuation of one of his company’s IPO, that tonked immediately after listing. So that was the end to that story).

There is a world of difference between how the two Ambani brothers carry on with their work. While the elder one (also the more richer) tends to keep away from media even though he owns a rather ‘costly’ IPL team. The only time Mukhesh Ambani was in news recent times was because of the $2 billion house that he is building. Meanwhile, ADAG’s public machinery seems to be working overtime, much like some 24/7 call center, trying to come up with some saucy and juicy bit.

So, there is Ambani Jr. investing millions in Fame Adlabs (a multiplex and film distribution chain in India). Or his Reliance Power is being listed (apparently, the very listing saw the end of the bull run and the return of the bears). Or how he aimed to be as big as TCS and the rest by launching a software firm Tech Reliance. Then, recently there has been these high-profile negotiations with MTN, the largest mobile operator in Africa. And finally, there’s Spielberg. He has even coaxed his good friend, Amitabh Bachchan to turn to blogging (he writes on one of ADAG’s online properties). Through all these stories, the official machinery will maintain a discrete silence. While some “informed sources” will keep the media wheels running with tid-bits and suppositions. Ask some one for a quote, and all you will get is hush-hush. Even the Time Magazine couldn’t coax them into commenting on a story.

Come to think of it, the raison d’etre of Ambani’s wealth are entities that he did not create himself, like Reliance Communications and Reliance Energy, the former was done by big brother and the latter was a PSU. And that is the reason, I like Anil Ambani; he manages to be there on my newspaper every morning somehow the other, talking of some fantastical venture or a success and when neither just plainly accusing his brother for some corporate misdemeanor. Bravo Ambani Jr! Continue reading