V excited to share this.

One of my favorite writers/ppl @packyM + I dug into Tata Group. It's wilder than I'd imagined.

- 152 yrs old
- Started as an opium exporter
- Key to Swadeshi movement
- Dominated by consulting
- Wants to be the next Super App?


Tata's a truly historic company.

It was founded by Jamsetji Tata, who began by expanding his father's exporting business before opening his own cotton mill:

"The Empress Mills." Image

Jamsetji did some unreal things at Empress Mills, things that were way ahead of his times.

- Supplied clean water
- Access to credit
- Access to education/library
- Accident insurance

Jamsetji's ambitions grew over the years. He settled on four big goals.

1. Bring iron manufacturing (back) to India.
2. Open a great tech university.
3. Built a hotel to encourage tourism.
4. Bring hydropower to Bombay.

He lived to see 1 of those come to life (hotel). Image

Jamsetji's son, Dorabji, took over the business in 1904.

He was responsible for making the remaining three goals happen.

1. Tata opened a steel and iron division (TISCO)
2. Tata built a hydroelectric facility in Bombay
3. Tata opened the Indian Institute of Science

JRD Tata wasn't a direct descendent of Jamsetji, but a cousin.

When he started in 1938, Tata had 14 businesses. When he left, it had 95. Image

Ratan Tata took over the company in 1991.

Whereas Tata had been a loose conglomerate under JRD, Ratan tied the divisions back together and rebuilt ownership. Image

Ratan also went on a buying spree.

He picked up companies like Land Rover, Jaguar, and Tetley's tea. Image

After some Succession-style drama, Ratan was replaced by a steady hand: Natarajan Chandrasekaran ("Chandra").

He's in place today and is in the process of modernizing Tata.

It's no easy task. Image


Well, for one thing, Tata has a *lot* of companies. Over 100.

That's hard to manage and means Tata group doesn't really have a clear identity. Image

Secondly, not all of them are doing so well. Tata is really dominated by its consulting division, TCS.

Titan watches is pretty large, as is Tata Steel. But there's a long-tail with a lot of unimpactful businesses. Image

There are also some major drags on the company with some divisions holding a ton of debt.

- Tata Steel: $11.6b debt
- Tata Power: $4.9b debt
- Tata Motors: $7.4b debt Image

But there's hope. Chandra is making moves to bring Tata into the 21st century.

Most ambitiously, he wants to create a Tata super app...

That sounds crazy. Tata doesn't have a messaging app to leverage or a P2P payment provider.

But Chandra's putting some interesting pieces in place:

- Buying 1mg, digital pharmacy
- Invested $200M in BigBasket, digital grocery
- Has a strong retail presence

A company that's a century and a half old can't be fully summarized in a 280 character thread.

To dig in check out the piece and subscribe below. You'll be joining 33,000 others that use The Generalist to gain an edge.

And, of course, most importantly, if you're able to, I'd encourage you to donate to India's covid-relief. Both @packyM and I have donated to organizations we trust.

Some strong resources:



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