Why is Mukesh Ambani more Successful than Anil Ambani?

Sharing the Reliance Brother’s approach to building a Business we read on Quora.

Before the separation, Mukesh managed Petrochemicals. He also built Telecom business single handedly. Anil was handling Finance and energy/electricity.


Anil was the the public face of Reliance. He also interfaced with the investors. Mukesh kept himself busy building the assets and mostly stayed in the background.

After both brothers married, the usual things ( ) happened. Finally they decided to separate the business.

Initial idea was that allow the brothers to keep the business(es) they were handling. Anil did not agree. On request from Kokilaben, Mr Kamath of ICICI became the advisor. It was decided that no business must be split. A business in its entirety must be transferred to one party. Mukesh was deep into Petrochemical business and he was managing it well. Anil was managing finance. So it became apparent that Mukesh would get Petro chemicals and Anil would keep finance and energy business.

Anil wanted Telecom, though it was a Mukesh’s baby, to maintain the parity. Mukesh was reluctant. Because he had grand plans for telecom.

After a lot of heart burn, Mukesh handed over Telecom and more than 25000 crore ( the actual amount might vary but I remember it was in that magnitude) cash to Anil.

[ The valuation of Reliance Telecom went UP and DOWN in just few weeks. Market manipulation ? That’s another story. ]

So after separation, Anil had large cash, new fast growing Telecom, old finance and promising energy business.

Mukesh had just one entity – RIL.

Now Anil was more than happy. He had new found freedom, large cash. Now brothers could decide the future course of their own business. Till then, Anil was known as the face of Reliance, more of a party hopping type and Mukesh a backroom type businessman.

Now Mukesh started attending public parties and Anil started investing in many businesses to prove that he too was a business builder.

Initial days were great. Anil started flying high. Mukesh stayed busy with RIL.

What was the difference between Mukesh and Anil?

Their basic way of thinking.

Anil loved to dabble with too many things. That gave him high. Mukesh loved doing one thing right. Anil looked for horizontal spread while Mukesh looked for the depth.

If Mukesh was an Aircraft Carrier, then Anil was a frigate. If Mukesh was an elephant, Anil was a leopard.

Mukesh would think of businesses at much larger scale. He could wait years for the cash. But he always wanted his business to run at a certain scale. On the other hand, Anil always wanted quick return of cash. Infact he would collect cash from the public first then take years to build a business. Mukesh would take years to build business and then go public much later.

So Anil became darling of quick return seeking investors and Mukesh became GOD for the project management professionals.

Anil loved flashy lifestyles, rarely managed business at a micro level. It was said Mukesh could conduct a meeting for hours without taking a loo break. He was always the God of details. You must study him in depth to understand his personal contribution to any business.

Their businesses are easily differentiated today because of their personal characteristics, not because one business was more profitable than other or the luck factor.

Study both brothers carefully and you would know this was to happen. I hate to say “I told you so.”, but I always maintained Mukesh would race ahead though many of my corporate friends disagreed at the time of split of Reliance.

Mukesh has 25X grand vision than Anil and he has patience to execute that vision.

Look at the World’s biggest startup -JIO.

Who would invest and create a new telecom business after handing over the Reliance Telecom to his brother?

A madman or Mukesh Ambani.

Years back, Mukesh chose CDMA over GSM because he believed in DATA. Anil never understood that. To him telecom was just another business like film production! That’s why Reliance Telecom failed after Anil took over. He didn’t have the passion for the business.

To mukesh, telecom meant different thing altogether. That’s why he is back with JIO.

Mukesh creates business. Anil profits from the market trends.

Is the difference obvious between brothers?

One more indicator :

After the split, Mukesh said he would NOT waste a single minute in future. Anil publicly thanked Tina, his wife, for guiding him through the split and said “we (together) did it!” !!!

Do you still need more explanations why one brother is more successful than the other?

Message for the budding entrepreneurs :

Both Mukesh and Anil sat quietly observing Dhirubhai conducting business for years. So practically, they were trained by the same man with the same input and in the same workshop. Yet, one guy couldn’t replicate the success of another.


Why both the brothers, with enough capital available at their disposal, looked at the business ( telecom ) so differently?


Please think.

Post Courtesy : Prabhat Mohanty

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