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Indian outsourcing exec moves into venture capital

Wipro CEO Vivek Paul joins investment firm to focus on life sciences and tech sectors.

Vivek Paul is moving from one hot tech sector to another.

Paul, the highly touted chief executive of Indian outsourcing giant Wipro Technologies, has been named a partner at investment firm Texas Pacific Group, the group said Thursday. Having helped Wipro emerge as a leader in the growing field of technology services outsourcing, Paul will now focus on venture capital investments in the technology and life sciences areas--just as the start-up scene is coming back to life.

In an interview Thursday, Paul said the move was about rebalancing his life. He said that after working as a chief executive for the past twelve years, "I couldn't get excited about another CEO gig."

There's been talk that Paul's departure will leave a vacuum at Wipro. But he argued the company is "golden" in the short run, thanks to factors including a strong team and a great brand.

Officially, Paul is taking a role as a partner in TPG Ventures, the venture capital arm of Texas Pacific Group.

Paul, 46, will work closely with the professionals of Texas Pacific Group and its Asian affiliate, Newbridge Capital, who jointly manage a portfolio of approximately $70 billion in revenue, the group said.

"We're delighted to welcome Vivek to Texas Pacific Group," Bill McGlashan, a TPG partner said in a statement. "Vivek has established himself as one of the finest business executives in the world, with skills that apply to both early and late stage investments, making him a perfect fit for our firm."

A Wipro spokesman said Paul will remain at the company at least several weeks before moving to his new job.

Wipro on Thursday introduced "the leadership team that will drive the next phase of growth," and said Lakshman Rao has been appointed chief operating officer.

Wipro Chairman Azim Premji said in a statement: "Vivek's contribution to the success of our global (information technology) business has been significant, reflected in Wipro's lead position today in many areas--R&D services, IT outsourcing and BPO. We wish Vivek the very best for his future. Vivek has groomed a set of global leaders who can take over from him and continue to build on this foundation."

Since 1999, Paul has been vice chairman of Wipro and CEO of its global IT, product engineering, and business process services segments. According to Wipro's Web site, Paul "grew this business from under $150 million in revenue to over $1 billion, with 40,000 employees in 40 locations around the world."

Paul recently was named one of world's "30 Most Respected CEOs" by Barron's Magazine. He also was selected as one of the TIME/CNN 25 Global Business Influentials for 2004, and picked by BusinessWeek as one of the best managers of 2003.

Paul is a native of India but is now an American citizen. He earned an MBA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

In an last year, Paul defended the controversial practice of offshore outsourcing:

CNET What is your response to people who fear the U.S. is losing its technology leadership because of offshore outsourcing?

Paul: That is really befuddling, because the U.S. is only securing its technological competitive advantage. (Look at) patents that have been written by Indian software engineers in Wipro. The individual engineers get the credit; the ownership is the customer's. So in some sense, U.S. technology companies are racing out ahead of their global peers to tap into the intellectual base that is in India. If the U.S. were to repel it in some way, it would create its future competitor. By embracing and directing it, the U.S. has pre-empted competition.