I thought as much as I could about Sridhar Vembu so you don’t have to
By now, most people in the startup world know of Zoho and its productivity suite. At last count, they have 45 or so products supporting everything a business could need — from email to CRM.
Famously, Vembu operates out of a small town in Southern India called Tenkasi, or the Southern Kashi, located 75 miles from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala.
In an interview, Vembu talked about how his family, though they were settled in Chennai, always had one foot back in their ancestral village, as if unsure of their place in the big city.
Seen in that light, it’s not surprising that Vembu moved to Tenkasi at the start of the pandemic and has been there since.
Why am I writing about Vembu?
About a year ago, I came across a Twitter thread of Vembu’s which was surprisingly political for a brandname CEO like him. I found myself looking for rebuttal tweets to refute what seemed to me to be pretty dubious claims in areas in which Vembu himself could not possibly be a subject matter expert.
Despite not agreeing with much of what he was saying, I still found it refreshing that he was willing to stir the pot in a country like India which prefers conformity and comity over confrontation.
Later, I discovered that most of Vembu’s Tweetstorms (I have linked to his Twitter feed in the conclusion section) are equally rage-bait. Pick any random thread and you will find yourself either nodding along or reaching for Wikipedia to refute him.
After that first incident, life got in the way, and I stopped thinking about him until recently, when I read a few hagiographic articles about other startup founders.
Reading all those fawning articles made me wonder if I could write a slightly deeper opinion piece on someone which surfaces aspects of theirs which may not be obvious from an initial read.
This is how I landed on Vembu.
The Raw Facts
Vembu is the 54 year old (born 1968) CEO of Zoho Corporation.