A lot can happen in a coffee baron’s life

The celebrated Café Coffee Day’s founder CEO, V G Siddhartha went “missing” on July 29. On July 31, 2019 he was found dead in the backwaters of Nethravati river, Ullal, Mangaluru, India.  It has been hard to believe that he took this extreme step of taking his own life. Sigh! There was a letter apparently written by him to his employees, blaming his own self for the “failure” he had been as an entrepreneur. He had also mentioned about some entities of the ecosystem who were bothering him. (The authenticity of the letter is to be verified though.)


Courtesy: Google images

Café Coffee Day (CCD) is a desi company founded in 1996, with the tagline, “a lot can happen over coffee.” CCD made it into the international arena, by establishing itself in Nepal, Vienna, Czech Republic and Egypt. It is coffee served at a premium compared to the local coffee shops in India. But the brand CCD has grown to command that price, be it for a café latte or cappuccino (my favourite). It is a brand that resonates well, specially with Gen Y and Gen Z in urban India. I happened to discuss this brand in one of my corporate communication classes, when dealing with aspects such as brand identity, image and perception. The overall feel of the outlet in any place in India is quite international. My husband and I chose to visit Café Coffee Day in Vienna in Europe back in 2012 (https://goudenleven.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/vibrant-vienna).

Philosophically speaking, untimely death knocks at the doors of mortals in forms such as (incurable) diseases, accidents and natural disasters.  With appropriate support, people strive hard to come out of them. Natural death due to aging is a given. But how would one treat suicide, that too from an entrepreneur who had generated jobs for close to 50,000 people in a developing country like India? Reasons for the extreme step could range from mental pressure/harassment, depression to cowardice to face the reality. (I am aware the reasons may be anywhere far from these.) It is also a known fact that an entrepreneur’s journey is always bumpy. That said, what about lives of near and dear ones who are left high and dry, with barely any inkling of such an impending loss of a valuable life? What happens to the soul of a voluntarily shortlived life? What about repaying of karmic debts (let alone financial, in this case)? These questions haunt the mind. Anyway, here’s a prayer that the coffee legend Siddhartha’s soul rests in peace, and his family and friends are able to come to terms with the situation. This episode has left one to ponder over the lesser discussed subtleties of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. It is hoped that the brand will continue to enjoy its loyalty.

– Rukma Vasudev