Monday, December 14, 2009

A Tribute To Ranjan Das

Back in October, my good friend Ranjan Das, the Managing Director of SAP India, passed away of a massive heart attack. He was an avid exerciser, and had just run a marathon earlier this year.

I'd never lost a close friend before this year, and in the span of just a few weeks, I lost two, both classmates from HBS. (My other friend was Christian Checa, who will get his own blog post at a later date)

Tomorrow, SAP will be holding a memorial dinner for Ranjan's friends and colleagues in the Bay Area. SAP will be recording the event and presenting the video to Ranjan's family. They asked any friends who wished to speak to prepare a 1-3 minute speech. Here is the text for mine:

What I'll always remember about Ranjan is how he treated people. He was always kind and respectful, but a lot of people are kind and respectful. What really set him apart was how he gently, but firmly encouraged all of us to strive to be better.

I first met Ranjan back in business school, when he, Chris Wu, and I were elected to lead the high tech club. I was just a kid of 24 back then, and Ranjan had way more experience. But he never made us feel like we were kids. Instead, we became partners and friends, both in running the club as well as when we started our own companies that second year of b-school.

While we didn't share in any hoped-for IPOs, we did get to share many other happy moments. We became dads, twice, and celebrated together at our sons' birthdays. And after he joined SAP, we had many lunches in this very building, where I'd tell him about my latest crazy idea.

That's how you could know what kind of friend Ranjan was. A good friend encourages your crazy ideas. A great friend tells you how to make them sane. Ranjan was a great friend. Whenever I had a crazy idea, Ranjan would tell me, "Chris, that's a crazy idea. But here's how it might work. Let me introduce you to a friend of mine who can help."

I really miss him. Even now, when I think about Ranjan, I can still see him smiling, and I can hear his voice in my mind. He did so much for so many, and he made the lives of everyone in this room better. Aroon and Maanav, you already know this, but I want to tell you myself. Your father was a great man. He was a great friend. And I will miss him very, very much.

Goodbye, old friend.