Rajiv Pant was leading the online technology organization at Philly.com and the Philadelphia Inquirer when I selected him to become the first Vice President – Engineering for Knight Ridder in San Jose.
We were preparing to build the first true platform for all 34 Knight Ridder newspapers (Miami Herald, Kansas City Star, San Jose Mercury, among others) and the 29 city portals (Philly.com, Miami.com, Silicon Valley.com) Rajiv was hired because he alone within Knight Ridder had the technology, content management, and leadership skills to take on this $20 million development effort.
Quickly it became clear to us that this platform development effort was much more complex than we anticipated, especially in migrating operations from 63 individual sites onto a single platform that could support common content management, advertising, classifieds and e-commerce.
It also quickly became clear how singularly skilled Rajiv Pant was as a manager of large-scale platform development and operations. I can say that without Rajiv’s strong leadership this platform would never have become operational. It was built around an open source news content management system that Rajiv’s team developed in Philadelphia–one of the first examples of Rajiv’s natural entrepreneurship.
What impressed me the most among all Rajiv’s gifts was his skill as a manager of people, especially among very talented and opinionated professionals from across Knight Ridder.
Within one year of launching the Knight Ridder platform Knight Ridder Digital went from hemorrhaging $50 million a year to turning a profit. When Knight Ridder was eventually sold, Knight Ridder Digital was one of the three most profitable business units including the 28 newspaper units.
I am not surprised to see the track record of successful leadership Rajiv has built since I hired him in 2000. He has grown into one of the leaders in large-scale technology development and operations, even beyond the news business. I have no doubt that he will continue to build his record of innovation and management.
As Senior Vice President of Product & Technology at Knight Ridder Digital (now McClatchy Interactive), Rohn Jay Miller managed Rajiv.