Former Computer Associates (CA) chairman and CEO, Sanjay Kumar, made a surprise appearance at the Etre technology conference in Cannes, three weeks after his indictment for securities fraud and obstruction of justice.
Kumar, who allegedly took part in a fraudulent accounting scheme that cost CA investors hundreds of millions of dollars, talked about exciting opportunities that exist in the technology industry, despite the troubles that have recently clouded his own career.
Although he did not comment directly on his indictment, Kumar described his departure from CA earlier this year, after 17 years with the company, as the start of a new chapter in his life.
"There are still tremendously exciting things to do. ... I'm focused on building new technology companies today," Kumar told the audience of tech industry executives, startups and venture capitalists.
Asked pointedly about mistakes he made in his own career, Kumar replied somewhat vaguely that "you need to stick to your principals, your convictions".
"Part of being at the top of the pile is making decisions, and you surround yourself with people smarter than you to help you," Kumar said. "One of my biggest mistakes was forgetting that there is a core group of people who will stick with you through thick and thin. ... Most people come and go."
Kumar said that he hoped to mentor young technology companies.
He said that developing new ideas was key since investment was not a problem in the industry.
"There's plenty of money running around out there," Kumar said.
New customer demands, as well as new technologies such as voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), were changing the industry, he said, creating new opportunities.
Later in the day, IDG News Service caught up with Kumar as he finished listening to a roundtable on the future of enterprise software.
In an exclusive chat with IDGNS, Kumar said he was at Etre to network and hunt for young companies in which to invest.
After leaving CA in June, Kumar said he took a vacation to think about what he wanted to do next, and decided to head a new company that would invest in and help develop young IT companies and technologies.
"I think it's a really good way to give back to the industry and create jobs," Kumar said.
He started OnDemand Partners two months ago with a group of other IT veterans who offer advice, money and development support.
Because of Kumar's background in enterprise software, and his endorsement of subscription-based pricing, those were the areas he focused on, he said.
His new firm's name was a play on words referring to both on-demand computing and the way in which the company's partners would step in to help "on demand", Kumar said.
"There's plenty of venture capital out there, what we need to develop the industry is people with experience," he said.
So far, the company was working with 14 companies and was on the lookout for more, he said.
Kumar was indicted on September 17 by a federal grand jury in for his part in the CA scandal, along with Stephen Richards, CA's former head of worldwide sales. Both men pleaded not guilty.
CA's former general counsel and senior vice-president, Stephen Woghin, pleaded guilty to similar charges.