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Nadella’s rise a tribute to US tech meritocracy

columns Updated: Feb 10, 2014 11:13 IST
N Madhavan
Satya Nadella

From all indications, Microsoft’s next CEO could be an Indian by birth. Manipal-educated Satya Nadella, currently cloud computing head at the company, is now the frontrunner while IIT-Kharagpur alumnus Sundar Pichai, now the biggest brain running Android initiatives at Google, may be the dark horse.

Having tracked success stories of Indians in the technology business for nearly two decades now, for me it was a question of when, not how.

Vinod Khosla is arguably the biggest Indian technology story in the US. He was the founding CEO of Sun Microsystems, since acquired by Oracle and is now already on to the next wave of global economic growth – clean energy technologies that might replace the burning of coal and oil. Khosla Ventures has invested in about 200 cutting-edge companies already over the past decade!

If many have not yet heard of Khosla in India still, it is because he has consciously preferred to be a venture capitalist than a CEO who appears before the media every three months.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin is Russian born. Yahoo’s co-founder Jerry Yang is from Taiwan. Pierre Omidyar, who founded eBay, was born in Paris to Iranian parents. Intel was founded by Andy Grove, who came to the US from Hungary.

From an Indian point of view, all these success stories show up the US as a land of opportunities with a simple motif: It is not where you were born, but what you do that counts.