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Press about Auriga

Aug 4, 2003

Software Entrepreneur Instead of Professor

Neue Zuercher Zeitung,
Peter Fischer

Honestly speaking, this thought-provoking lean man with a high forehead doesn't look at all like a new successful businessman from Russia. At 57, he is definitely not a young daredevil or a smart MBA just out of a western business school. Despite that, success never leaves him. He was one of the first to realize that a lot of highly professional IT specialists from Russia didn't need to immigrate. Instead, they could benefit from offering their services to the West. Yet before Sukharev became the pioneer of the thriving Russian software development company, he knew little about how to manage an enterprise. A son of a famous Russian oil geologist, he was born in Grozny, Chechnya, and was known as a mathematics wonder boy. When he was 17, his parents sent him to Moscow where he enrolled in the renowned mechanics and mathematics school of Moscow State University. At 31, he became Professor of Operations Research and Numerical Analysis at Moscow State University. At that time, in 1977, he had an opportunity to spend half a year in the USA as a participant in the academic exchange program. He soon realized that not everything that was said about the West in Russia was true. However, Sukharev focused on his research dreaming of some Russian Deng Xiaoping who would change the Soviet system from inside. But during his next visit to the States, this time in 1986, it became clear to him that the right timing was missed. He predicted to his wife that in 20 years’ time Leningrad would be changed back to its original name - St. Petersburg. She thought he went mad. That it would only last for five more years was unbelievable even for him.

Sukharev concluded that academic research didn't have any future in Russia and considered all the consequences. It occurred to him that the good knowledge of Russian scientists could be well marketed in the West. In 1991, he quit his professor position and, using his contacts in the U.S., he started - together with his colleagues and students - developing complex software for foreign customers. Apart from programs based on Linux, they also developed a simulation game on market balance for enterprises. In 1992, Hewlett Packard selected his company as HP's exclusive business partner for Moscow and Moscow Region within the Packard Initiative. But in 1993, the American customers abruptly broke up all the business relations with Sukharev's company. They faced a serious political pressure that originated from allegations that Eastern IT specialists were taking away too many jobs from America. It seemed to be the end. After slight hesitations, Sukharev headed to the U.S. himself to find work for his Moscow colleagues.

He was lucky. More than 100 people work now in Moscow for Auriga company whose headquarters were moved to the USA. Although the recent IT crisis in the West affected Auriga operations, it is still obvious for Sukharev that the future of IT Outsourcing belongs to Russia because of the advantages related to cost reduction and high skills of Russian IT professionals. Russians can solve complex problems better than their international competitors.

In the near future, Sukharev sees the two-digit figure as the growth rate for the company. It would have gone quicker if he merged with other companies in the market. But Sukharev doesn't want it because he is afraid of losing control of "his baby". He wants to develop business in the German-speaking market, where his company did a project for the Swiss Post.

Sukharev, who now lives in the U.S. because of his business, has become an immigrant himself. He likes the air and nature in the woods around his New Hampshire house. From there he communicates with his Russian developers via broadband Internet. He still keeps an apartment in Moscow. The information revolution, once with iron borders, has now become very flexible.

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