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December 22, 1999
Relativity's Focuses on India, Eyes Asia
A P Kamath
Relativity Technologies, which earlier this year helped Russian airlines, defense and related organizations deal with Y2K problems, has made its first foray into the Asian market, crafting an alliance with NIIT, the large software consulting and training company based in India. Relativity focuses on modernizing legacy systems and moving them to the Internet.
Vivek Wadhwa, Relativity's founder and chief executive officer, says under the three-year agreement, NIIT has made a "multimillion-dollar revenue commitment" with Relativity. NIIT is licensing Relativity's software for its consulting practice, and also plans to incorporate it into its training curriculum worldwide.
Wadhwa says Relativity also is looking at Pacific Rim partnerships in Japan and, possibly, Australia. He added the firm is in discussions with possible business partners in Asia and Australia and sees some huge potential.
"We expect NIIT to be a key player in helping him expand into these geographies," he says, adding that the Indian agreement is one factor that could help Relativity become profitable next year.
NIIT has 3,700 employees in 31 countries and generated $ 207 million in revenues last fiscal. Relativity has 105 employees and contractors in the USA, Europe and Russia.
"We started with almost zero in 1977," he says, reminiscing about how his company has been featured in just about three years in major newspapers and on top television programs across the world, including The Wall Street Journal, BBC and CNN.
"The second year we had $ 2.7 million in revenue and this year we have $ 6 million," he says. The Cary, North Carolina based firm expects to grow to $ 15 million next year, he says.
"The NIIT agreement gives Relativity access to the fast-growing Asian market without the expense of establishing another branch office overseas," says Wadhwa, who opened a London office last year.
Relativity's software has already drawn the attention and support of some of the computer industry's biggest and most-experienced companies. Intel bought a stake in the company last November. This month, Intel made an additional investment through its Intel 64 fund, set up in May along with Compaq, Dell Computers and Hewlett-Packard, among others.
Starting a business partnership with India has been a dream for Wadhwa, who holds a BA in Computing Studies from Canberra University in Australia and an MBA from New York University. He has lived abroad for more than three decades.
"I take a lot of pride in being able to help India modernize its legacy systems and to jump right into the world of e-commerce, through this partnership with NIIT," says Wadhwa.
"Our technology will become part of their training curriculum, and I expect that thousands of their graduates will work with some of the top companies in the world to move their key legacy systems to the web. Factories that were set up to do Y2K remediation have an opportunity to focus on e-commerce transformation... I am glad to be able to do anything for India. I would love to have Indian companies lead the charge of the brick and mortars to the web on a worldwide basis."
Why would Asia be interested in Relativity's software?
"The answer is that the Internet is a worldwide phenomenon," Wadhwa says. "Right now there is a worldwide race to get on the web and transform brick and mortar businesses to click and mortar businesses.
"The US is leading the charge to the Internet, but Europe and Asia are not that far behind," he says.
"Leading companies worldwide are seeing the massive potential of doing business over the Internet. In all cases, the established players are encumbered by their legacy systems, which run on the wrong computer platforms and have the wrong technical architecture. These systems, however, contain the knowledge of the operations of the business."
Relativity's RescueWare speeds the transition from legacy programs written for mainframe computers to contemporary computer languages necessary for client/server networks and the Internet, says Wadhwa.
"The business rules can be extracted from these legacy systems and transformed to modern languages like Java for running on the web."
Wadhwa, who has spent more than 25 years in the software industry, was co-founder, executive vice-president and chief technology officer of Seer Technologies, where he led the technology efforts and assisted company operations to grow the software start-up to a $ 118 million publicly-traded company. Prior to that, he served as vice president of information services at CS First Boston Corporation.
Where is Wadhwa taking Relativity in the new millennium?
"Our company's strategy is to dominate this emerging legacy to e-business market through partnerships," he says. "We have developed a revolutionary technology and signed up some of the best players in the world. Now it is simply a matter of executing effectively and making our partners and their customers successful. I want to build one of the best software companies with a worldwide presence."
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