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Bangalore Tiger is a Grave Disappointment

Written by Rajesh Kumar on July 9, 2008 – 10:22 pm

A colleague who is himself a book lover and perhaps know I treasure them too, gifted me Bangalore Tiger by Steve Hamm. It is a book that covers tech giant Wipro, its origin, its growth, the people who made Wipro what Wipro currently is. Coming from the same industry, I felt greatly enthused to read this book. More so because the author Steve Hamm is a no minnow, but a columnist of Businessweek and likes.

Books on corporations are a tradition in the west, with every corporation worth its name has either seen a CEOs biography, or an external author such as recent published superb work Cold Steel by Bouquet & Ousey, or David Wise on Google.

Wipro is a great company. Not just because it is a path breaking commercial success (USD 4.3 BN for 07-08 fiscal), but because it has produced leaders such as Subroto Bagchi and others who are stalwarts of Indian IT industry even after they left Wipro. And of course, don’t forget Premji.

My primary complaint against this book is that it seems to have developed not by some detailed study, but from the PR material Wipro might have made available.Nothing wrong with using PR material. But seemingly relying on that alone? The entire description is dull and text heavy fashion. The descriptive nature of text makes you fall asleep as soon as you hold the book in your hand. Even after you read the book completely, you ask yourself about anything new that might have appeared in the book. Nyet, no. It also does not focus on elements of strategy well enough, rather spending space on the operational excellence. And loads of that. Perils of a journalist as an author.

Frankly, coming from IT industry myself, I had better expectations from this book. Frankly, I would love to read more books written on Indian success stories. And why IT alone, I’d love to see world class books on world class companies from India - my wish list includes Ranbaxy, the Tatas, the Ambanis, Satyam, the TVS group, Dr Reddy’s, Apollo Hospitals. Till then I could wait.

And warning, don’t try reading Bangalore Tiger at airports waiting for a flight- Soporific is the word.


Posted in Business Books |






4 Comments to “Bangalore Tiger is a Grave Disappointment”

  1. Mahesh GovindNo Gravatar Says:

    US technology executives DO NOT read Business Week for Steve Hamm articles. Frankly, Business Week is not even on the tech’s industry’s radar and Hamm is not considered a technology media insider or expert here.

    Likely, the Business Week magazine name gave you higher expectations that his book might be worthwhile. His writing reputation is well known to be biased towards a few companies (like Wipro) and generally, tech-light.

    His book has sold very poorly in America according to Amazon.com More of the books were given away by Wipro than were ever purchased by readers - like a company brochure as you sugggest - not a real business book. That’s how I got two copies - from Wipro salespeople (although I must admit I flipped through it and thought it was something not worth reading either).

    The magazine has new editors and is still losing more money than ever.

    Perhaps Hamm’s job will be the next one outsourced.

  2. Michael-JohnNo Gravatar Says:

    Wipro sent me a book too. Its all Wipro propaganda and it was not independently published but produced by Hamm’s magazine company.

    Wipro has been an advertiser of the magazine and this whole thing goes full circle. What could have been a good story was even lost in the first badly plotted chapter.

    The tech industry in the US rightly suspects these story motives and methods of Business Week. Too much rumor and speculation, not enough good reporting on whats important, and usually after the rest of the tech magazines have already published better stories a week earlier.

    It smells of the exact stink that comes from it or is that the dead fish I wrapped it in?

  3. Nikhil NarayananNo Gravatar Says:

    Hi
    I had tried this book a year back and jus’ could not move forward after the first few pages.
    Was like a corporate brochure to me.
    Books written on companies are usually a zillion times better.

    -Nikhil

  4. Rajesh KumarNo Gravatar Says:

    Mahesh, Michael-John and Nikhil, it appears the views are concordant on this one. The jury tool very little time here!

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