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Letter to TCS Shareholders from Cyrus P. Mistry

The letter was received in a mail. Here are the excerpts.


Shareholders of TCS,

December 13, 2016

Re: Representation under Section 169 of the Companies Act, 2013


Dear Sirs,

I refer to the captioned subject. Since the requisitionist’s stake in the equity share capital of the Company is over 73%, the outcome in this particular meeting is a foregone conclusion. Yet, it is necessary for me to address this letter to you.

Over the past several weeks, many have tried to mischaracterize my refusal to go without resistance, as a measure of:

(a) retribution for how I was treated at Tata Sons;

(b) a fight for control over operating companies; or

(c) a hankering for office – a desire to reclaim a position.

None of the above is true. The fight is a matter of principle rather than facing the foregone outcome.

The very future of TCS hinges on good governance and ethical practices. That can flow only from the promoter and needs to permeate into the Board and Management. In the past several weeks, we have seen good governance being thrown to the wind in every sense of the term, replaced by whims, fancies and personal agenda. We have witnessed an unmatched erosion of ethical values and the very foundation of the institution being put to grave risk by the conduct of a few.

What I am fighting for is to save the soul of the Tata Group. Whatever be the decibel level of the voice that would drown your vote, I call on you to vote with your conscience and send a signal that catalyses a larger discussion on governance reform, to save the very fabric of what we have all inherited — the Tata Values that our Founders handed us.

Yours sincerely,

Cyrus P Mistry

Steling Bay, 103, Walkeshwar Road, Mumbai – 400 005

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adam neumann

Here is where CEOs of heavily funded startups went to school

CEOs of funded startups tend to be a well-educated bunch, at least when it comes to university degrees.

Yes, it’s true college dropouts like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates can still do well. But Crunchbase data shows that most startup chief executives have an advanced degree, commonly from a well-known and prestigious university.

Earlier this month, Crunchbase News looked at U.S. universities with strong track records for graduating future CEOs of funded companies. This unearthed some findings that, while interesting, were not especially surprising. Stanford and Harvard topped the list, and graduates of top-ranked business schools were particularly well-represented.

In this next installment of our CEO series, we narrowed the data set. Specifically, we looked at CEOs of U.S. companies funded in the past three years that have raised at least $100 million in total venture financing. Our intent was to see whether educational backgrounds of unicorn and near-unicorn leaders differ markedly from the broad startup CEO population.

Sort of, but not really

Here’s the broad takeaway of our analysis: Most CEOs of well-funded startups do have degrees from prestigious universities, and there are a lot of Harvard and Stanford grads. However, chief executives of the companies in our current data set are, educationally speaking, a pretty diverse bunch with degrees from multiple continents and all regions of the U.S.

In total, our data set includes 193 private U.S. companies that raised $100 million or more and closed a VC round in the past three years. In the chart below, we look at the universities most commonly attended by their CEOs:1

The rankings aren’t hugely different from the broader population of funded U.S. startups. In that data set, we also found Harvard and Stanford vying for the top slots, followed mostly by Ivy League schools and major research universities.

For heavily funded startups, we also found a high proportion of business school degrees. All of the University of Pennsylvania alum on the list attended its Wharton School of Business. More than half of Harvard-affiliated grads attended its business school. MBAs were a popular credential among other schools on the list that offer the degree.

Where the most heavily funded startup CEOs studied

When it comes to the most heavily funded startups, the degree mix gets quirkier. That makes sense, given that we looked at just 20 companies.

In the chart below, we look at alumni affiliations for CEOs of these companies, all of which have raised hundreds of millions or billions in venture and growth financing:

One surprise finding from the U.S. startup data set was the prevalence of Canadian university grads. Three CEOs on the list are alums of the University of Waterloo . Others attended multiple well-known universities. The list also offers fresh proof that it’s not necessary to graduate from college to raise billions. WeWork CEO Adam Neumann just finished his degree last year, 15 years after he started. That didn’t stop the co-working giant from securing more than $7 billion in venture and growth financing.

  1. Several CEOs attended more than one university on the list.

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affordable housing

Shared housing startups are taking off

When young adults leave the parental nest, they often follow a predictable pattern. First, move in with roommates. Then graduate to a single or couple’s pad. After that comes the big purchase of a single-family home. A lawnmower might be next.

Looking at the new home construction industry, one would have good reason to presume those norms were holding steady. About two-thirds of new homes being built in the U.S. this year are single-family dwellings, complete with tidy yards and plentiful parking.

In startup-land, however, the presumptions about where housing demand is going looks a bit different. Home sharing is on the rise, along with more temporary lease options, high-touch service and smaller spaces in sought-after urban locations.

Seeking roommates and venture capital

Crunchbase News analysis of residential-focused real estate startups uncovered a raft of companies with a shared and temporary housing focus that have raised funding in the past year or so.

This isn’t a U.S.-specific phenomenon. Funded shared and short-term housing startups are cropping up across the globe, from China to Europe to Southeast Asia. For this article, however, we’ll focus on U.S. startups. In the chart below, we feature several that have raised recent rounds.

Notice any commonalities? Yes, the startups listed are all based in either New York or the San Francisco Bay Area, two metropolises associated with scarce, pricey housing. But while these two metro areas offer the bulk of startups’ living spaces, they’re also operating in other cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle and Pittsburgh.

From white picket fences to high-rise partitions

The early developers of the U.S. suburban planned communities of the 1950s and 60s weren’t just selling houses. They were selling a vision of the American Dream, complete with quarter-acre lawns, dishwashers and spacious garages.

By the same token, today’s shared housing startups are selling another vision. It’s not just about renting a room; it’s also about being part of a community, making friends and exploring a new city.

One of the slogans for HubHaus is “rent one of our rooms and find your tribe.” Founded less than three years ago, the company now manages about 80 houses in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, matching up roommates and planning group events.

Starcity pitches itself as an antidote to loneliness. “Social isolation is a growing epidemic—we solve this problem by bringing people together to create meaningful connections,” the company homepage states.

The San Francisco company also positions its model as a partial solution to housing shortages as it promotes high-density living. It claims to increase living capacity by three times the normal apartment building.

Costs and benefits

Shared housing startups are generally operating in the most expensive U.S. housing markets, so it’s difficult to categorize their offerings as cheap. That said, the cost is typically lower than a private apartment.

Mostly, the aim seems to be providing something affordable for working professionals willing to accept a smaller private living space in exchange for a choice location, easy move-in and a ready-made social network.

At Starcity, residents pay $2,000 to $2,300 a month, all expenses included, depending on length of stay. At HomeShare, which converts two-bedroom luxury flats to three-bedrooms with partitions, monthly rents start at about $1,000 and go up for larger spaces.

Shared and temporary housing startups also purport to offer some savings through flexible-term leases, typically with minimum stays of one to three months. Plus, they’re typically furnished, with no need to set up Wi-Fi or pay power bills.

Looking ahead

While it’s too soon to pick winners in the latest crop of shared and temporary housing startups, it’s not far-fetched to envision the broad market as one that could eventually attract much larger investment and valuations. After all, Airbnb has ascended to a $30 billion private market value for its marketplace of vacation and short-term rentals. And housing shortages in major cities indicate there’s plenty of demand for non-Airbnb options.

While we’re focusing here on residential-focused startups, it’s also worth noting that the trend toward temporary, flexible, high-service models has already gained a lot of traction for commercial spaces. Highly funded startups in this niche include Industrious, a provider of flexible-term, high-end office spaces, Knotel, a provider of customized workplaces, and Breather, which provides meeting and work rooms on demand. Collectively, those three companies have raised about $300 million to date.

At first glance, it may seem shared housing startups are scaling up at an off time. The millennial generation (born roughly 1980 to 1994) can no longer be stereotyped as a massive band of young folks new to “adulting.” The average member of the generation is 28, and older millennials are mid-to-late thirties. Many even own lawnmowers.

No worries. Gen Z, the group born after 1995, is another huge generation. So even if millennials age out of shared housing, demographic forecasts indicate there will plenty of twenty-somethings to rent those partitioned-off rooms.

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Anu Duggal

Some of the top female founders in the U.S. are backing the latest Female Founders Fund

Roughly five years after the launch of its first fund in 2013, Female Founders Fund (F3) has closed on $27 million for its latest seed fund — backed by some of the startup world’s top women entrepreneurs and investors.

Backed by a clutch of seriously impressive names in the startup and tech community, entrepreneurs financed by F3’s latest endeavor can count on a rolodex that includes Melinda Gates, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Fooundation; Katrina Lake, the founder and CEO of StitchFix; Jenny Fleiss, the co-founder of Rent the Runway and Code 8; Hayley Barna, the co-founder of Birchbox and a partner at First Round Capital; Elizabeth Cutler, the co-founder of SoulCycle; Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code; and Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder of Bumble .

Launched by Anu Duggal with an $8 million first fund in 2013, F3 managed to amass an impressive portfolio of 30 companies that have gone on to raise some $500 million in capital. Early successes include Zola, Maven Clinic, Tala, WayUp, and ELOQUII. In the last two months alone, Tala has raised $65 million in new capital and Zola just closed on $100 million (Zola founder Shan-Lyn Ma is also backing the latest F3 Fund).

Duggal and her partner Sutian Dong are part of a clutch of female entrepreneurs and investors who are working hard to correct the gender discrimination that has plagued the tech community broadly, and the venture capital community specifically, from its earliest days.

Along with firms like Jesse Draper’s Halogen Ventures and Susan Lyne and Nisha Dua’s BBG Ventures, F3 is laser focused on backing female founded or led companies at the earliest stages, according to Duggal.

“We are continuing to double down on our focus on investing in female-founded companies,” she said.

The industry agnostic company has placed bets in everything from fintech, healthcare information technologies, enterprise software as a service and many other industries, but sees particular opportunities in the emergence of what Duggal calls “alternate communities” and at the confluence of healthcare and wellness.

She points to the startup Peanut, an online community for millennial mothers, and HipSobriety, a new take on Alcoholics Anonymous, as examples of the thesis.

Other companies in the fund’s current portfolio include Thrive GlobalWinky Lux, and Billie.

For Sutian Dong, who joined F3 from FirstMark Capital in 2016, the opportunity for seed investment in women entrepreneurs was too compelling to pass up.

“We have seen that capital can create a massive impact down the line,” says Dong of seed investing. But the advantages of F3’s investment go far beyond its money, the two partners said.

“The network and community perspective, and the ability to access other female founders that share knowledge and support each other,” is critical, says Dong. “The reality of early stage companies is that there’s never enough people and there’s never enough time,” she said. But leveraging the largest ecosystem of female founders can help startups with recruiting, customer development services and other unanticipated needs that founders have when getting a business off the ground.

Founding executives from the F3 portfolio gathered at the firm’s F3 Summit

“Female Founders Fund has done an incredible job of consistently creating value for their portfolio founders through their network and events,” said Arianna Huffington, founder of the F3 porfolio company, Thrive Global, in a statement. “Their values of supporting innovative female entrepreneurs and playing active roles in their growth is so important to us, and it’s been such an exciting journey working with them over the past year and-a-half. I’m honored to be a part of this community and to be a part of their growth story.”

“There’s a whole group of women who have really relevant professional and personal experiences and they’re leveraging that to start new businesses,” Duggal said.

While there’s still an overabundance of work that needs to be done, this wave of new investors and entrepreneurs is having an imapct on the community. “I run this women in VC community in New York and keep a directory of female investors internationally,” says Dong. “That group has expanded well into the hundreds of women across a number of countries at the early stage.”

Both Dong and Duggal point to the success of funds like Kirsten Green’s Forerunner Ventures, Aileen Lee’s Cowboy Ventures and Jennifer Fonstadt and Theresia Gouw’s Aspect Ventures as inspiration for their success and see opportunities for more funds to tap the underserved market for investing in good female entrepreneurs.

“We are incredibly excited to continue building on our thesis that it is possible to achieve outsized returns by investing in women,” said Duggal, in a statement. “With the support of our remarkable and successful base of investors, both institutional and strategic, we will continue to build a brand that invests in and champions female founders, while underscoring the larger conversation about the shift in dynamics within venture capital.”

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