If you have been keeping up with the latest developments of Reliance Jio Platforms, you already know how it has raked up Rs 87,655 crore worth of investment in the last 6-7 weeks. Now, what you might not have been aware of, amid all the noise and buzz, is about the man who has been instrumental in making all of it happen behind closed doors besides Ambani himself.
Meet Manoj Modi. Very little is known or written about him on public platforms beyond the halls of Reliance Industries. He doesn’t hold any fancy corporate position but he is known to be one of the most powerful forces when it comes to guiding the Ambani the frontman in navigating his empire as it slowly pivots from petrochemicals to internet technologies.
Insider sources have claimed that his role during the $5.7 billion deal with Facebook was to man the negotiations’ team, something at which he excels beyond imagination. Soon after Facebook’s investment was solidified in the group’s Jio Platforms, we all know how it was then followed by similar deals from multiple private-equity funds which injected close to $13 billion into the business and put it on the radar of Silicon Valley.
Modi who is presently sixty-something happens to be a director at Reliance Retail Ltd and Reliance Jio. He rarely agrees to appear on public interviews. However, in a truly rare occasion, Vani Kola, Managing Director of the venture capital firm Kalaari Capital Partners, was able to persuade him to finally appear at a conference held last year.
In that interview, Manoj Modi was seen to be downplaying his skills as he described himself completely incapable of negotiating or even understanding what strategy means. He then went on to mention how his real job is to deal with people internally. He revealed that he is mainly responsible for mentoring and coaching the key decision-makers of the organisation to achieve its combined goal or objective.
Now, executives from the technology industry who have had to deal with Reliance were asked about Manoj Modi, they have all agreed in unison that he is the man who is responsible for driving extremely hard bargains from behind the scenes. Modi instructs Reliance’s executives on how far to push and then makes an appearance only when the deal is nearing fruition.
G.R Gopinath who is the founder of the budget carrier Air Decan also agreed to the rumours about this man who supposedly acts as the right-hand man of Ambani. In 2010, G.R Gopinath sold his stake in his cargo airline to Reliance and during the finalisation of that deal, he learnt how Manoj Modi has a very big say in every single detail of a proposed deal. He also found out how, before every deal gets finalised, it needs the final stamp of Modi’s approval.
When asked to summarize the attributes of this shadowy figure of a man who pulls all the important strings from the dark, Gopinath said that his power in the organisation comes from his ability to be ruthlessly efficient besides the fact that he is one of the most loyal soldiers of the Reliance family.
Modi happens to be one of the few people who have been with the company since the 1980s. That was the time when Mukesh Ambani’s now late father was building the oil-and-petrochemicals giant from scratch. It should also be noted that prior to that he and Ambani had received their education together at the University Department of Chemical Technology in Mumbai where they became very good friends. From there on, he was given a chance to work with the three generations of the Ambani dynasty.
Over the years Modi has been known to work tremendously hard to rise in the ranks and finally became one of the key execution men at Reliance Industries Ltd who oversees all large projects. Lastly, while Reliance is not a company which tends to advertise its organizational structure a lot, it is well known within the industry that Ambani and Modi are a very strongly-bonded team.