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Four NRI men on Forbes' richest Americans list

world Updated: Sep 18, 2008 11:49 IST
Four Indian-origin men on Forbes' richest Americans list

Tech guru Vinod Khosla and three other men of Indian origin are on the 2008 list of the 400 richest Americans prepared by Forbes magazine.

The list, released on Wednesday, is topped by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, followed by legendary investor William Buffet with fortunes of about $57 billion and $50 billion respectively.

Oracle Corp founder Lawrence Ellison, worth $27 billion, is in the third position.

While Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems and a venture captialist, is ranked 355 with a personal wealth of $1.4 billion, the other three Indian Americans on the list are Google investor Kavitark Ram Shriram (rank 281), Syntel founder Bharat Desai and family (321), and Amar Bose (also ranked 321) of Bose sound systems.

All four are self-made billionaires. To get on the Forbes' list, the minimum net worth needed was $1.3 billion this year.

Shriram, 51, with a personal wealth of $1.7 billion, is a Chennai-born entrepreneur who started at Netscape in 1994. Later, he created shopping site Junglee, which he sold to Amazon in 1998.

An early investor and a board member of Google, he still owns 1.3 million shares worth $600 million. Today, the Californian backs some Indian and US startups and sits on the board of Indian job site Naukri.com.

Khosla, 52, also based in California, is an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) product from India with an MBA from Stanford. He co-founded electric design automation company Daisy Systems in 1980.

Two years later he joined others to form Sun Microsystems. He served as its chief executive before turning to finance full-time in 1996. In 2004, he started Khosla Ventures, which funds "science experiments" like solar panels and clean technology.

Florida-based Desai was born in Kenya 55 years ago, but moved to India at age 11. After getting an IIT degree, he moved to the US in 1976 to work at TCS. He founded Syntel with wife Neerja Sethi, taking it public in 1997. Today, the firm outsources client's IT and BPO overseas, mostly to Asia.

Bose, now 78, started repairing radios in high school. He earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Techonology (MIT) and started research on hi-fi sound before starting Bose Corp in 1964.

He built his brand on groundbreaking loudspeaker design. Today, Bose iPod docks, surround-sound home entertainment speaker systems and noise-cancelling headphones dominate the market. Based in Massachusetts, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame last year.

A man of Sri Lankan origin is also on the Forbes list. Raj Rajaratnam (rank 262), with a wealth of $1.8 billion, founded hedge fund Galleon Group in 1997, making big bets on health care and technology companies. Today the firm manages $7.5 billion across six funds.

Economic woes have claimed some members of Forbes' ranking of the 400 wealthiest Americans.

Dropouts this year include former American International Group (AIG) chief executive Maurice Greenberg and former eBay chief Meg Whitman.

With an average net worth of $3.9 billion, the 400 richest Americans collectively have a net worth of $1.57 trillion, exceeding Canada's gross domestic product.