The Cafe Coffee Day franchise and family suffered a tragic shock today morning, with the death of founder VG Siddhartha, 60. The businessman's body was found, 36 hours after he was reported missing, by two fishermen on the bank of the Netravati River near Mangaluru in Karnataka.
Last seen walking alone and away into the distance on the bridge over the Netravati, engrossed in a mobile phone conversation, by his driver, VG Siddhartha's death has been grieved by many.
Karnataka Chief Minister said he was shocked and also said, "May god rest his soul in peace". Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy also tweeted, expressing shock and dismay at the loss of a "great businessman" who had created thousands of jobs across the country.
Those thousands of jobs, as a Twitter user observed, included employment opportunities for differently-abled people - a sign that it is possible, even in the cut-throat world of business, to be a billionaire with a heart of gold.
True this.... Saw this several times in Bengaluru.— Mohammed Saleh (@Mohammed11Saleh) July 31, 2019
Besides the excellent Coffee and the world class ambience, Cafe Coffee Day employed many differently abled staff, who wore their badges with pride#RIPSiddharthahttps://t.co/B0oeYylgDp
Described as a hard-working and dignified individual, VG Siddhartha was born in 1959, in Chikkamagaluru, a Karnataka district famed for its coffee plantations. A sign of things to come, he was also born to a family that has cultivated the bean for more than 140 years.
Nevertheless, as a young man VG Siddhartha wanted to script a different path - his own path. He wanted to be an investment banker. To that end, he read for a degree in Economics from Mangalore University and began working as a stock trader with JM Financial Limited in Mumbai.
In 1984, that dream appeared to be moving to fruition with the founding of Sivan Securities, his own investment and venture capital firm.
The call of the bean, however, was strong.
By the early '90s, VG Siddhartha began moving back to the family business. It started with investing profits from Sivan Securities in buying coffee plantations and, in 1993, he established Amalgamated Bean Company (ABC), a coffee-trading firm that today has an annual turnover of Rs 2,500 crore.
His other business interests included the Global Technology Ventures Ltd. and working with aspiring entrepreneurs. He also had stakes in a wood processing company, a hospitality firm and a timber trading organisation - all managed through his first company - Sivan Securities.
VG Siddhartha, who was married to the daughter of former Karnataka chief minister SM Krishna, is survived by his wife, Malavika Hegde, and two children.
Cafe Coffee Day regulars have taken to Twitter to thank Mr Siddhartha for introducing the state's coffee to the world and also, as one user wrote, for "lovely memories now swinging in my mind".
"A lot can happen over a coffee but nobody ever expected this. #RIPSiddhartha," another wrote.
"#CafeCoffeeDay changed our notion of 'hanging out' and changed what our post school / college day looked like.. not to mention changed what a dating looked like !" Bollywood actor Swara Bhasker tweeted.
Quite heartbreaking! #CafeCoffeeDay changed our notion of ‘hanging out' and changed what our post school / college day looked like.. not to mention changed what a dating looked like ! I'm not a finance expert but this is so sad! ☹️ https://t.co/AN2fu9tGkV— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) July 31, 2019
Another shared memories of "group studies" at CCD outlets, highlighting the role the brand played in developing not just an appreciation of coffee but an identity for an entire generation of Indians.
In my school and College days, I thought CCD was an International brand, it was a huge deal, we used to go and do group studies there.— Shayari Bay (@ShayariLove) July 31, 2019
I believed CCD wss one of the biggest brands of India.
How is it that today its owner has to suicide. ????#CCDFounder#RIPSiddharthapic.twitter.com/wQZntaqf5h
The last word, however, should go to Cafe Coffee Day, whose touching tribute explains how much VG Siddhartha meant to the employees of the chain.
Today we remember the legend that inspired us all. Thank you Chairman VG Siddhartha for your vision, leadership and the great legacy. pic.twitter.com/tYMiglgofe— Cafe Coffee Day (@CafeCoffeeDay) July 31, 2019