Neville Roy Singham

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Neville Roy Singham
Born (1954-05-13) May 13, 1954 (age 68)
United States
Alma materHoward University[1]
OccupationThoughtworks chairman, Social activist
Known forThoughtworks

Neville Roy Singham (born May 13, 1954) is an American businessman and social activist. He is the founder and former chairman of ThoughtWorks, an IT consulting company that provides custom software, software tools, and consulting services.

Early life[edit]

Singham's father was Archie Singham.[2] In his youth, Singham was a member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, a Black nationalistMaoist group, taking a job at a Chrysler plant in Detroit in 1972 as an activist in the group.[3] He attended Howard University before starting a consulting firm for equipment-leasing companies from his Chicago home.[3]

Career[edit]

Singham founded ThoughtWorks, a Chicago-based IT consulting company that provides custom software, software tools, and consulting services, in the late 1980s; it was incorporated in 1993.[4][5]

From 2001 to 2008, Singham was a strategic technical consultant for Huawei.[3][5]

By 2008, ThoughtWorks employed 1,000 people and was growing at the rate of 20–30% p.a., with bases around the world. Its clients included Microsoft, Oracle, major banks, and The Guardian newspaper.[6] Singham owned 97% of the common stock of the company.[6] By 2010, its clients included Daimler AG, Siemens and Barclays, and had opened a second headquarters in Bangalore.[7]

In 2010, he opened Thoughtworks' Fifth Agile Software Development Conference in Beijing, where he spoke about his influence on Huawei.[3]

Singham sold the company to private equity firm Apax Partners in 2017, by which time it had 4,500 employees across 15 countries, including South Africa and Uganda.[4][8] Its chief scientist, Martin Fowler, wrote that Singham had not been involved in the running of the business for some years by that time:

"While I was surprised to hear that he was selling the company, the news was not unexpected. Over the last few years Roy has been increasingly involved in his activist work, and spending little time running ThoughtWorks. ... He's been able to do this because he's built a management team that's capable of running the company largely without him. But as I saw him spend more energy on his activist work, it was apparent it would be appealing to him to accelerate that activism with the money that selling ThoughtWorks would bring."[5][9]

Singham has business interests in Chinese companies in the food and consultancy markets.[3]

Ideas and positions[edit]

At ThoughtWorks, Singham was a pioneer of agile software development[4][10] and has helped popularized Lean manufacturing, such as that used in the Toyota business model.[11]

Singham opposes proprietary software development and supports open access and the Creative Commons movement. In 2008, Singham said, "As a socialist I believe the world should have access to the best ideas in software for free. My goal is a technically-superior infrastructure to solve the world's problems."[6][12] In the same interview, he described himself as a big fan of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, describing the country under his rule as a "phenomenally democratic place." He also described his admiration for China, where ThoughtWorks had a growing operation, describing it as a model for governance: "China is teaching the West that the world is better off with a dual system of both free-market adjustments and long-term planning."[6]

He is a supporter of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, for example speaking in his defence at a 2011 event hosted by the Real News Network, alongside fellow activist software businessman Peter Thiel and former intelligence whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.[13] Alongside Ellsberg, he has also advocated for hackers such as Jeremy Hammond and Aaron Swartz—the latter, a friend of Singham's, having worked for him at ThoughtWorks when he committed suicide while facing prosecution by the US government.[14] Singham described Swartz's prosecution as "part of a coordinated campaign to scare young Internet activists" in the age of WikiLeaks.[15]

In a 2013 interview, he advocated for Frugal innovation, describing ThoughtWorks' investments in such projects in India, Brazil and China.[16]

Financing controversies[edit]

In 2021, Indian media reported that India's Enforcement Directorate named Singham in a money laundering case against Indian media portal Newsclick and its People's Dispatch website, alleging that he was "the key source of Rs 38 crore" (380 million Rupees – approximately US$5 million) it received between 2018 and 2021 to promote a pro-Chinese narrative in the Indian media.[17][18] The funds were alleged to have passed through a network of companies and NGOs including Delaware-based Worldwide Media Holdings (allegedly owned by Singham), and the Justice and Education Fund, GSPAN LLC and the Tricontinental Institute (which allegedly shared the same address) in the US, and Centro Popular Demidas, Brazil.[18][19][12]

According to a January 2022 report by New Lines Magazine of the Newlines Institute, a think tank at the Fairfax University of America, Singham has financed a network of non-profit organizations who defend the Chinese government and are involved in denying the Uyghur genocide, channelling almost $65 million to a range of groups.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Singham's wife is Code Pink's Jodie Evans.[3] His son Nathan (Nate) Singham works for the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.[20][3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Neville "Roy" Singham - Techonomy". Techonomy. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  2. ^ Prashad, Vijay (2021-12-21). "Archie and I: A Third World Story". New Frame. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Reid Ross, Alexander; Dobson, Courtney (January 18, 2022). "The Big Business of Uyghur Genocide Denial". New Lines. Fairfax University of America. Retrieved January 19, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c "Software co ThoughtWorks gets $720 million". The Times of India. 2021-01-16. Retrieved 2022-01-25.
  5. ^ a b c Coyne, Allie (2017-08-24). "ThoughtWorks snapped up by private equity firm". iTnews. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
  6. ^ a b c d Kirkpatrick, David (Mar 17, 2008). "The socialist state of ThoughtWorks". Fortune. Retrieved Sep 11, 2011.
  7. ^ Sen, Chiranjoy (2010-03-27). "'Big software packages on last legs'". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
  8. ^ Moyo, Admire (2018-03-14). "How ThoughtWorks quietly departed SA". ITWeb. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
  9. ^ "Roy sells Thoughtworks". martinfowler.com. 2017-08-23. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
  10. ^ "Thoughtworks Goes Public, Raising $344 Million". Nearshore Americas. Retrieved 2022-01-25.
  11. ^ "Play Toyota strategy, not Ford's, Neville Roy Singham tells IT firms". The Financial Express. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  12. ^ a b "ED probe reveals Chinese funding to Newsclick, Elgar Parishad case accused Gautam Navlakha also one of the beneficiaries: Details". NationNews -Nation News worlds's Top News Web Portal www.nationnews.in. 2021-07-18. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
  13. ^ Savitz, Eric (2011-01-19). "WikiLeaks: Why It Matters...Or Maybe It Doesn't". Forbes. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
  14. ^ Pilkington, Ed (2013-11-04). "Lawyers in Stratfor leak case present letters of support ahead of sentencing". The Guardian. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
  15. ^ Hsieh, Steven (2013-01-23). "Why Did the Justice System Target Aaron Swartz?". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
  16. ^ S, Raghotham. "India's position on NSA spying is ludicrous: Roy Singham". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  17. ^ "Newsclick received funds from businessman of Sri Lankan-Cuban descent to build pro-Beijing narrative: ED - India News". Times Now. 2021-07-18. Retrieved 2022-01-25.
  18. ^ a b Thakur, Pradeep (2021-07-18). "ED probes media portal's funding from businessman 'linked' to China regime". The Times of India. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
  19. ^ "ED's probe into funding news portals reveals 'violations' of FDI policy". Bharat Times English News. 2021-07-18. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
  20. ^ Prashad, Vijay (2019-03-28). "Coluna - O nascer do sol será o mesmo para aqueles que acordarem e para os que nunca acordarão". Brasil de Fato (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2022-01-26.