C.K. Prahalad

In our life, we meet several people. Some people make a deep impression and change you in many ways. In fact some people have amazing ability to make deep impression on many people. C.K. Prahalad was one of those remarkable people.

I was very lucky to enjoy very close friendship with him and his family for about 15 years – from 1985 to around 2001. We met, maybe in 1983, when we both arrived at University of Michigan. We were in different colleges – he in Business and I in Engineering – but met at a mutual friend’s (Ila and Jagadish) house in a party. During conversations, I was attracted to his keen and deep intellect and great sense of humor. We met several times because we lived in very close neighborhood.

My friendship grew with him and was strengthened significantly in early 90s when I got involved in starting companies and approached him to be an advisor. After a few year we started working on a project together that became a company called Praja. I had moved to San Diego and Praja started in San Diego. CK also decided to move with his family to San Diego to build Praja. Much of 90s was the period when I learnt a lot from CK on many fronts. In early 2001 due to the internet bust, Praja went through difficult period and was later sold to Tibco. Then I moved to Atlanta and later to Irvine. We met much less frequently after that.

CK was one of the boldest thinkers I met and worked with. He was not afraid to think contrary to current wisdom, in fact most times he started from that position. He was not afraid to express his thoughts to anybody – and I mean anybody. On the other hand, he was one of the most friendly and warm persons. For several years, I felt that I had an elder brother to guide me and he and his family cared for us exactly like that. He was very generous with his time and resources. His taste for every thing was absolutely the top-most – whether in intellectual things, wine, food, or any other material things or art. He did not settle for anything that he did not consider the top quality.

Another very unique thing about CK, Gayatri, Murali, and Deepa was, and remains, their sense of humor. When with them, you are always laughing. Their ability to see the lighter side in things is remarkable.

Yesterday when I read in Newspaper about his passing away, I was in a daze for quite some time. When I told Sudha, she started shouting and crying. She was able to call Gayatri and talk to her. About 30 hours after knowing that he has left this world, I am still in a shock. The time spent with him and his family is going through my memories and I am reliving many of those moments vividly.

CK was one of those people, who may not be with you, but his memories are so vivid that you feel that he is with you. Moreover, what I learnt from him, and that is more than possibly anybody in my life, will always be with me. Words can’t capture how I feel about him. At this time I want to think about a wonderful life that he had and remarkable contributions that he made. Personally, I will always think of the wonderful time of my life that I was able to share with him.

7 thoughts on “C.K. Prahalad

  1. Robert Martindale

    What can I say that has not already been said about CK. It is almost ten years since the days of Praja and yet to this day, and very often, I ask myself “what would CK recommend, or say” in any given scenario. Whilst this is especially useful when considering a business opportunity, challenging customer or logical problem – it is equally important when considering most dilemmas or situations. My time directly with CK (and you Ramesh) was relatively fleeting and yet has given me a certain balance and direction that is as strong today as those days in Zurich, Harvard, Paris, Michigan and San Diego.

    I am completely shell shocked by this, I found out today from Scott Fingerhut and to be honest I am struggling to fathom this situation. I will regret not attending a TiE event just a few weeks ago at which CK was a guest, but I have to treasure my time with him and – like you – remember his wonderful and eventful life.

    Very few people can touch so many people with such a strong effect. I feel heartfelt thoughts for Gayatri, Murali, and Deepa. I know myself the feelings of losing a loved family member (my parents) and I am praying for CK’s family tonight.

    One night in Detroit after a long set of meetings at GM, CK took me out for a meal, the taxi driver didn’t know the way, so CK directed him in the dark and rainy night to a restaurant. CK had the waiters shift the table so as it wouldn’t be too close to the kitchen door. He ordered wine, and corrected the waiter when he brought and poured wine… explaining to the waiter the exact year of the vintage he had poured was a year later than that ordered… the waiter was shocked to find CK exactly correct. CK smiled all through this, he simply knew what he knew, both in business, and in his social life.

    I am left deeply honored by having known CK and having worked with him- albeit for such a relatively short time.

    Ramesh – Thank you for posting such a beautiful tribute to CK, and I hope and trust that you and your family are well.


  2. Anand Vaidyanathan

    I still remember inviting CK and some of my other Praja colleagues to my place for dinner with families. CK mentioned to me that he was returning back from a business trip that night and he would try to come to my place. Much to my surprise he sent Gayathri with Ramesh & Sudha and he arrived directly to my place from the airport. I was very touched to see that a person of his stature made an effort to mingle with the praja (common people). He always had a way of being able to connect with everyone. He used to invite Praja employees & their families over to his place for gatherings as well as to attend some special occasions such as family weddings too. It was a privilege to have known him and interacted with him.

    It is definitely very shocking to hear that he is no longer with us. May God rest his soul in Eternal Peace.

    – Anand

  3. Dinesh Jain

    I have known CK only thru you, Ramesh and had met him 3 may be 4 times in life. But his pleasant demeanor, the brilliance of intellect left a lasting impression on me. His theories were so unusual, yet so to the point, correct.

    I think the world has lost one of the great Thinkers, who had the ability to transform it positively. I am sure his thoughts will continue to do so despite his phisical absence.

    I also felt that Mother India produced such an able son, who she gifted to the world and lost so soon. May CK’s immediate family and the extended family (who he touched) as the strength to bear such a great loss and more importantly keep him alive by making his words about India and world come true, by practicing his managemnt theories and thoughts.

  4. e-commerce solutions

    Thanks for the post. Sad to hear about the demise of Mr.C.K. Prahalad.Very rarely does one come across a person that make an everlasting impression and in that regard you were very lucky to have him.I know his demise has left a void in your life..something that can never be filled by anybody.His contribution in your life is immense and that has in turn has helped you in many ways than one. May god bless his soul. Look forward to hearing from you soon again.

  5. Paromita

    I am very glad to know that after so many years you really remember a person and taking about him so nicely.You still miss his company,that reflects from your post.You know, in our world, there is few persons who actually remember someone else.After reading your post,I also starting respecting him.Wish you luck for your rest life.

  6. Direct Debit

    Mr. C.K. Prahalad is really a gifted person and his work justifies the truth itself. His pleasant demeanor, the brilliance of intellect attracts everybody and the simplicity is really heart-wearing. Glad to read the blog post and also moved.

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