What’s in a Name?

They say you build a brand over many years, may be many decades. But in
the short history of just about a decade, most of the Indian BPO
companies have changed their names—some of them multiple

Take the Dataquest Top 20 BPO companies. Two of
them—Accenture and Convergys—are parts of large
American companies, which were started by those companies organically
to take advantage of the India advantage. And two of them—TCS
BPO and Syntel KPO—are less than four years old. From the
rest of the sixteen companies, 12 have changed their names, at least
once in their not-so-long history.

The oldest among these are, of course, WNS Global Services and Genpact,
which started as captive units. WNS started in 1996 as a British
Airways subsidiary called Wold Network Services and changed its name to
WNS Global in 2003 when it decided to pursue growth as an independent
company. Genpact started as GE Capital International Sevices in 1997.
When GE sold 60% of its stake to two PE players—Oak Hill and
General Atlantic—in  2004, it changed its name to
Gecis Global before finally changing it to Genpact a year later.

Wipro BPO also owes its DNA and origin to Spectramind, started by Raman
Roy in 1999. Wipro acquired majority of the company in 2002 and changed
the name to Wipro Spectramind before finally changing it to Wipro BPO.
While Wipro’s was an acquisition, many IT companies who had got into
BPO business organically, too had started with different names but
changed to a more generic “parent company” BPO
nomenclature. That includes Proegon, which Infosys started in 2002 with
20% equity from Citigroup but in 2006 bought the latter’s stake. That
is the time when it changed the company name to Infosys BPO. HCL, which
was one of the first IT companies among the big firms to get into BPO
in 2001 started as E-Serve Technologies; first changed its name to HCL
E-serve before finally falling to the formula nomenclature of HCL BPO.
Mphasis’ BPO subsidiary too started as MsourcE before changing its name
to Mphasis BPO. Satyam’s BPO unit started as Nipuna in 2002. Five years
later, it changed its name to Satyam BPO.

The trend is not restricted to captives and subsidiaries of IT
companies. Firstsource, the fifth largest BPO company in India, started
as ICICI Onesource in 2002, after acquiring CustomerAsset, a
Bangalore-based start-up and FirstRing. It changes its name to
Firstsource in 2006 before its listing in 2007. Another VC-backed
start-up, Transworks was acquired by Aditya Birla Group which also
acquired a Canadian company Minacs in 2006 and changed the entire
company name to Aditya Birla Minacs a year later. Another top Indian
company, Cambridge Solutions has an interesting genesis. It started as
Scandent Solutions but the holding company of Scandent Solutions, the
Scandent Group, had also invested in a BPO start-up, ProcessMind
started in 2002. It then brought both these companies together before
acquiring the BPO arm of Aon, called Cambridge and adopted the acquired
company’s name. Now, the majority of the company has been acquired by
UK-based Xchanging and the company will change its name again to
Xchanging Solutions.

Other companies that have changed their name include Daksh eServices,
which after being acquired by IBM became IBM Daksh; Hinduja TMT, which
changed its name last year to Hinduja Global, and 24/7 Customer.com,
which simply dropped the .com part from its name.

Interestingly, one company that has changed its ownership many times
but has not changed its name even once is Intelenet Global, which
started as a 50-50 JV between HDFC and TCS in 1999, becoming an HDFC
subsidiary for some time, and being majority-owned by Barclays for some
time before being acquired by Blackstone in 2007. If you are into BPO
trivia, here is another fact for you. This is the only company which
has not changed its non-promoter CEO  since its inception in
1999. The other large BPO companies where the CEOs have remained at the
helm since inception are vCustomer and 24/7 Customer but they are both
promoter CEOs.

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