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Indians have Contributed in Creating Several Jobs in US through Startups, Still Face Accusations in the Country: Study

India faces accusations of taking away jobs from American people but have they only snatched and not given them opportunities through startups

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Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google Inc.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google Inc. Wikimedia
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  • Indians have contributed to growth of iconic business firms like Sun Microsystems, Hotmail and some of them have turned into biggest entrepreneurs and job creators
  • There are many Indian-origin leaders who have become household names today like Indra Nooyi (Pepsi), Shantanu Narayen (Adobe), Satya Nadella (Microsoft), Sundar Pichai (Google)
  • Hotmail.com founder Sabeer Bhatia, the company was founded in the year 1996

New Delhi, August 21, 2017: Indians are facing accusations from Americans that they are snatching away American jobs, but it’s not the case.  There is an Indian- American venture capital firm called Inventus Capital Partners which is trying to throw some light on the contributions Indians have made in the growth of Silicon Valley.

Indians are stereotypically viewed as a source of cheap labor in US Technology Industry but they are much more than that. Case in point is over the last 10-20 years, Indians have contributed to the growth of iconic business firms like Sun Microsystems, Hotmail and some of them have turned into biggest entrepreneurs and job creators instead of being just job seekers.

As per a report from July, Director of Inventus Capital Partners- Manu Rekhi, the company operates from Bengaluru and San Mateo, California, he observed how Indians have left a mark in the American entrepreneurial space.

There are many Indian-origin leaders who have become household names today like Indra Nooyi (Pepsi), Shantanu Narayen (Adobe), Satya Nadella (Microsoft), Sundar Pichai (Google). But these success stories were due to decades of hard work.

Also Read: Facebook backs Delhi-based tutor enablement platform ‘XPrep’ as part of its global programme FBStart, designed to help early-stage Mobile Startups

In the early 1980’s, arrived in the US the first generation of Indian entrepreneurs. According to Quartz report, Manu Rekhi said,  “Among these legends  was Kanwal Rekhi (my partner) along with Vinod Khosla, Naren Gupta, Prabhu Goel, Suhas Patil, and many others, who went on to finding notable companies like Sun Microsystems (acquired  by Oracle), Excelan, and Cirrus Logic.”

When the early entrepreneurs moved to America global exposure was very limited and also their understanding of consumer behavior of the people in the US was also limited. That is the reason they founded engineering- heavy systems and networking companies instead of going for consumer facing ones.

Slowly, with time more Indian tried their hands at launching new ventures and also US doors opened for foreign students, thus Indian entrepreneurs turned their focus from enterprise to consumer- oriented companies. One prime example of this is Hotmail.com founder Sabeer Bhatia, the company was founded in the year 1996. Sabeer Bhatia is a BITS Pilani graduate, did masters from Stanford University and has worked for Apple before launching his maiden email service.

The 1990s was also the year in which the Indian-origin leaders were also mentors in the Silicon Valley.  Case in point is BV Jagadeesh who is a Serial Entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist. Jagdeesh helped to raise the seed money for Netscaler, a San Jose based company. He later went on to become its President and also CEO by the year 2000. Currently, Jagadeesh is a managing partner at KAAJ Ventures, it makes early stage investments in startups, and he is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University, takes classes on early-stage startups and valuation. Ram Shriram is a Venture Capitalist, a founding board member and is one of the first investors in Google. His stake in the company was $ 1.3 billion in the mid-2000, he also mentors budding startups.

Also Read: 4 Startups which changed the face of Food and Beverage Industry in India

Rekhi said that later companies of Indian entrepreneurs shifted towards technologies which were more advanced.For example, Jyoti Bansal started App Dynamics, a management and operations analytics firm, which was later acquired by Cisco for $3.7 billion on 22 March 2017. Dheeraj Pandey, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur alumni owns Nutanix, a cloud-computing software company. In 2016, it had a multi- billion dollar initial public offering. Manish Chandra who is the CEO, Poshmark, which is the social fashion marketplace. Chandra created a product which would be “unheard of 20 years ago,” Rekhi said.

For example, Jyoti Bansal started App Dynamics, a management and operations analytics firm, which was later acquired by Cisco for $3.7 billion on 22 March 2017. Dheeraj Pandey, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur alumni owns Nutanix, a cloud-computing software company. In 2016, it had a multi- billion-dollar initial public offering. Manish Chandra who is the CEO, Poshmark, which is the social fashion marketplace. Chandra created a product which would be “unheard of 20 years ago,” Rekhi said.

Indians are less than 1% in the total US population, but still by 2012 they founded 8% of all the American tech & engineering startups. The group has started one-third of the immigrant-founded startups in the US. The firms which they have founded also provide great acquisition opportunities and also made high-value public debuts, Rekhi said, mentions Quartz report.

The first Indian-American founder led company- Nasdaq IPO (Initial Public Offering) opened its doors in 1987 with Excelan going public, but the pickup in big-value exists came only in recent times.

In the last 5 years, the software and services sector, which has 17 companies, tops the list of IPOs owned by Indian founders and co-founders and has a combined market Capital of amount $26.2 billion. The second in the list were Pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and life sciences in terms of the number of IPOs (six). But, the retail industry saw a much larger market Capital of as much as $6.67 billion, in comparison to Pharmaceuticals, it was $397 million. 10 of these 34 companies that make approximately 29% were acquired following their stock-market debut.

Also Read: Amazon Launchpad’ comes to India; will support Indian Startups

According to Quartz report, Rekhi said: “Even before the turn of the millennium, companies like IBM and Intel had been making acquisitions, but mostly of outsourcing services companies where you’re basically buying manpower.”

But between 2012 and 2017, more than 25 companies by Indian-origin entrepreneurs saw mergers and acquisitions worth- $500 million and more, Rekhi found.

Rekhi noted, “Topping that list is Western Digital’s acquisition of SanDisk, worth a whopping $19 billion, followed by several acquisitions from Cisco, HPE, and SAP.”

Today, 14 of the 261 unicorns are headed by Indian-origin founders (private companies valued at over $1 billion) in the US. These 14 startups, when taken together have a combined value of $35.17 billion and funding of $81.8 billion, with the IT industry taking the lead, according to Rekhi.


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Is Chutney out of place in Carnival?

Chutney has been able to resist the domination of calypso as the heartbeat of Carnival music

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Chutney has been able to resist the domination of calypso as the heartbeat of Carnival music. Wikimedia Commons
Chutney has been able to resist the domination of calypso as the heartbeat of Carnival music. Wikimedia Commons
  • Chutney soca music is a crossover style of music incorporating Soca elements
  • The satire on Prime Minister Rowley’s mother has been arguably the most controversial song in the history of calypso, soca and chutney in the country.
  • It is the International Chutney Queen Competition to be held on February 2 at Guaracara Park in San Fernando, the second largest city in the country

By Dr Kumar Mahabir

When people get angry, they tend to speak their mind. Their emotions explode in words that they have been suppressing for some time. Psychologist Dr Jeffrey Huntsinger proved this theory after conducting experiments at Loyala University in Chicago in the USA in 2012.

Chutney Soca promoter George Singh really spoke his mind when he became upset on learning that his 2018 show was not funded by the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB), an agency of the Afro-dominated Government in multi-ethnic Trinidad and Tobago  (T&T).

At a news conference which he convened, Singh said that “the decision by the Government not to support chutney soca was an insult to the art form” (Express 05/02/17).

George Singh is a Chutney Soca promoter. Wikimedia Commons
George Singh is a Chutney Soca promoter. Wikimedia Commons

Singh raged: “The Government, over the last three years, has consistently reduced funding to Chutney Soca Monarch and various members of the present administration have stated directly to me that chutney soca brings no value to Carnival” (emphasis added).

At the same news conference, Singh said that the Government had approved a budget of TT $146 million to the National Carnival Commission (NCC).

Also Read: When shall we see a Turkey-less Thanksgiving Day?

“I think this administration is hell-bent on seeing that it [chutney soca] has no place in Carnival. It is a slap in the face to Indo-Caribbean entertainment,” he said.

Singh’s outburst was a public exposé of what the Indo-Trinidadian (Indian) community had always known i.e. Indian culture (e.g. chutney, pichakaree ) is given marginal or no space in “national” and regional shows (e.g. CARIFESTA).

Sing’s rant is more revealing since he has admitted that he has “family ties” to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi (Express 27/12/17).

Carnival in Trinidad has long been the cultural preservation of the Afro-Trinidadian (African) community. Wikimedia Commons
Carnival in Trinidad has long been the cultural preservation of the Afro-Trinidadian (African) community. Wikimedia Commons

In all his anger, Singh was careful not to confirm what almost every Trinidadian suspected i.e. that Government initially denied him funding because he was allowing Massive to perform his hot chutney hit “Rowlee Mudda Count.”

The satire on Prime Minister Rowley’s mother has been arguably the most controversial song in the history of calypso, soca and chutney in the country.

I have always contended that chutney concerts, competitions, tents and fêtes must be recognised as part of Carnival and must be a given an equitable share of culture funds, media space and stage presence.

Also Read: Western intellectuals’ overwhelming love for Sanskrit literature

My argument is contained in detail in a chapter entitled “Chutney Music in Carnival:

Re-defining National Identity in Trinidad and Tobago” in the book Caribbean Dynamics:

Re-configuring Caribbean Culture (2015). The book is edited by Drs Beatrice Boufoy-Bastick Savrina Chinien and published by Ian Randle in Jamaica.

In the chapter, I discussed how Carnival in Trinidad has long been the cultural preservation of the Afro-Trinidadian (African) community. To this day, the major players and champions of calypso, soca, extempo, steelpan and masquerade, whether in Jouvert (“Jour Ouvert”) or Dimanche Gras, remain participants of African descent.

The emergence of chutney music and artists in 1995 – when Basdeo Panday was elected as the first Indian Prime Minister of T&T – was historic. In 1996, the rendition of Sonny Mann’s runaway hit “Lotay La” by DJs in soca parties, and by steel bands as their Road Mach tune during Carnival signalled the advent of chutney into the national urbanized festival/centre.

Chutney is being strongly influenced by calypso and soca rhythms and dance styles. Wikimedia Commons
Chutney is being strongly influenced by calypso and soca rhythms and dance styles. Wikimedia Commons

In the following years, Indians continued to change the ontology of “the national festival” to the extent that Carnival has to be re-defined to include Chutney Monarch, Chutney Brass, Chutney Soca, Chutney Calypso, Chutney Glow and Chutney Mardi Gras.

For the first time this year, a new chutney show is being introduced to the Carnival calendar. It is the International Chutney Queen Competition to be held on February 2 at Guaracara Park in San Fernando, the second largest city in the country. The event is being hosted by Randy Glasgow Productions.

Also Read: Race as a tool to keep people Divided: Will Science break the Shackles?

Chutney is being strongly influenced by calypso and soca rhythms and dance styles, but the genre is also used as an alternative to the Afro-Creole music formats. There have been two institutionalised chutney calypso theatres: “D” Massive Gosine Roving Calypso/Chutney Tent and the National Chutney Calypso Touring Tent.  Now in its eighth year is the National Carnival Schools Intellectual Chutney Soca Monarch Competition held at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain.

These chutney competitions cum fêtes allow Indians to gain a sense of inclusion in this grand “national” festival, although on the periphery of the capital city. These cultural incursions also allow Indians to actively participate in Carnival without losing their (sense of) ethnic identity.

Dr Kumar Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books
Dr Kumar Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books

In 1998, cultural critic Burton Sankeralli wrote: “Indians are claiming Carnival space as Indians…. [and] … The flagship of this Indocentric presence and contestation for space is chutney …” With the re-creation of chutney, Indian artists are refusing to be subjected to silence and invisibility on mainstream radio, television, newspaper and the stage.

Chutney has been able to resist the domination of calypso as the heartbeat of Carnival music. The subversive spirit of calypso and Carnival is perhaps being re-incarnated in chutney.

(Dr Kumar Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books)