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SILICON VALLEY HI-TECH GEEKS – THE ROCK STARS

SILICON VALLEY HI-TECH GEEKS – THE ROCK STARS
May 04
05:44 2017

The Innovation Economy Secret sauce revealed in this monthly series by Rishi Kumar

We are excited to launch this new series at the 25th anniversary of TiEcon, a technology conference that has helped so many entrepreneurs, opened up doors, connected people, funded companies, launched companies and showed the path of entrepreneurship.

When you think about tech startups and entrepreneurship, Silicon Valley dominates the world in churning out products and offerings that not only go viral worldwide but also creates a plethora of startups centered around that success. Silicon Valley is truly the hotbed for innovation and high-value companies. But, what does it take to roll out a startup and succeed against all odds? What was that eureka moment that “launched a thousand ships?” What does it take to truly innovate and be that Silicon Valley rockstar? With this series, we will introduce these entrepreneurs who have rocked Silicon Valley with their technology and business leadership, the ones who pioneered and built this innovation economy, the ones who continue to shine the beacons of light for future entrepreneurs. Perhaps you? The California gold rush is still alive and kicking in Silicon Valley – only this one doesn’t appear to be fading, churning millionaires and billionaires. Let us meet Ashok Krishnamurthi and figure out some components of the Silicon Valley secret sauce. Read on and get inspired.

28 years experience in management & engineering

Ashok Krishnamurthi

Mr. Ashok Krishnamurthi Co-Founded Xsigo Systems, Inc., in 2004 and served as its Executive Chairman. Ashok served as the Chief Executive Officer of Xsigo Systems Inc. Mr. Krishnamurthi has over 28 years of experience in management and engineering. He joined Juniper Networks in 1995 and served as its Executive Vice President of Engineering since September 2003. He served as Vice President and General Manager of Infrastructure Product Line of Juniper Networks Inc. He served as Director of Engineering at Juniper Networks from May 1999 to June 2000 and served as its Vice President of Hardware Engineering from June 2000 to January 2002 and Vice President of Engineering from January 2002 to September 2003.
Mr. Krishnamurthi held engineering and management positions at Sun Microsystems, Philips, Xerox PARC, and AT&T Bell Labs. He served as Vice Chairman of Xsigo Systems, Inc. He currently is a general partner at GreatPoint venture. Ashok is also an early investor in a number of companies like GoEuro, Reflektion, OttoQ, Veradocs, Falcon Systems, Robin Systems, and Scoredata amongst others. He is currently on the board of K2 Cyber Security, COSY, Namogoo, OttoQ, InsightRX, Scoredata and the non-profit ALCMI.

He holds a BS from the Manipal Institute of Technology and a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Syracuse University.

Silicon Valley only place that celebrates failure


Ashok, let us chat about your early years. Studying at Manipal Institute of Technology, arriving into Syracuse for your Masters. What were some of the key ingredients that helped position you to where you are today?

Receiving distinguished Alumnus Award

Arriving at Manipal as a bright eyed 17 year old was rather eye opening. Eye opening for quite a few reasons. Having to leave a rather protective environment to having to fend for yourself can be either viewed as a disaster or one of an educational opportunity. I chose to do the latter. From the first day to the day I graduated, I used my experience at Manipal as a vehicle to hone my interpersonal skills, survival skills, even language skills
(I had never heard of the language called “tulu”, but had to learn it quick to be able to communicate with various folks ). The same experience was amplified when I landed at JFK on a PANAM flight on my way to Syracuse. From having to weather the extreme cold, to work for a living (for the first time in my life) as a researcher was something that helped me hone my skills even further. These are skills that I use even to date.

You were part of Juniper in the early years and witnessed a phenomenal ride. How was

the experience like? As you go back memory lane, do you have any stories to share?

Juniper was like being on a rocket ship on its journey to an unknown planet. Exciting yet scary. We knew that we had something special. Special because of the people involved, from the Venture capitalists, to the management team to the founders to the rest of the company. We all were on the same boat, and it did not matter which end of the boat we were in, we realized that if we did not all “bail water” we would sink and so we did whatever it took to build, sell, market our routers. Titles were meaningless and the team did the needed to win.

Manipal Days

The one story that sticks out in my mind is the day when our full system (“M40”) came all together in the lab for the first time, and I was in the lab with one of our engineers. We were trying to bring the system up and the test was sending the first packet thru the system, effectively a “PING”. One of the founders had incredible faith in us, but had a rather odd way to encourage us. He would use reverse psychology and say “This will never work”, which would only goad us into proving him wrong. So, that night having smoked a few cigarettes this founder walks in and in his usual encouraging manner says

“The PING will never happen”, while my engineer and myself very casually type in the last commands and in “Spock” like demeanor I reply “watch this”… and the PING happened. A huge outroar was heard. We jumped up with joy and our CEO who was waiting with bottles of “Dom Perignon” bursts into the lab for us to all celebrate. At that very moment we knew that we had something very very special that happens only once in a lifetime.

In your opinion, what are the prerequisites to becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is the secret sauce for Silicon Valley success?

There unfortunately are no set of prerequisites that one can either learn or be taught to become successful entrepreneur. Having said that, I believe that passion, humility, listening, empathy are great skills to have. In addition loving what you do, surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you are, focusing and taking baby steps would help guide one towards successful goals.

You were an entrepreneur, now an investor. This is a cycle that repeats so often in the valley. What are some of the gotchas as you morphed into this new role?

First Juniper Christmas Party

Failure is a great teacher. In my opinion the US (and specifically the Silicon Valley) is the only place that celebrates failure. It means that there is scope for improvement. I have failed a few times as an entrepreneur and I believe one learns quite a bit from one’s failure. These could be failure running a company or even funding a company. So, I would not view them as gotchas but more as a set of “pit stops” to where I am today. Each one of those stops was for fixing a piece of the vehicle on which I was taking my journey.

As an investor, what are the kind of ideas or investment areas your focus upon?

EntireFamily

As an investor my partners and I at GPV (Greatpoint ventures) are sector agnostic. What we invest in great entrepreneurs who put reality aside and have audacious ideas. Ideas that have large market potential, and where we bring an unfair advantage with our operational skills. Having run successful companies, founders and entrepreneurs find it rather refreshing the operational value that we bring to the equation. To date we have invested in enterprise software, food and food tech, biotechnology, and therapeutics, robotics, security. We believe that there is an interesting phenomenon that is happening which is the intersection of computer science and the pure sciences (Biology, physics, chemistry, material science etc).

How do you see Silicon Valley evolving over the next couple decades? Have you seen anything change since you arrived and the Silicon Valley today?

There is something in the water here in the valley that draws from around the world the most interesting talent. This has not stopped since the early 70’s. This is evident in the vast expansion from vineyards and orchards disappearing since I came here in 1988 to seeing google self driving cars driving on the same 101 which used to be 2 lanes down near old Oakland road in San Jose. I see the next few decades accelerating the frontiers of genomics, the meeting of human silicon interaction to better health and nutrition being the forefront of making lives better for the masses.

Ashok thank you! Loved your insights; this story will inspire many more in this path the ones you venture here to be part of this perpetual gold rush.

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ABOUT RISHI: Rishi is an awards-winning hi-tech executive, elected official, community leader with many years of success in Silicon Valley’s high-tech powerhouses such as IBM, Cisco, as a business executive, driven to innovate via uniquely deep and broad high-tech industry expertise, Today, he is a GovTech executive involved with regulatory and policy challenges that affect the hi-tech industry leading business development initiatives, net new revenue opportunities sources via his expertise with technology, business, customers, policies and operational principles/procedures of Government. As an elected leader, with a leadership role locally in Silicon Valley (Saratoga Councilmember) and politically engaged in California and nationally, he has led business success, established strong credibility, providing compelling value to enterprise via a nexus of hi-tech leadership, political, and community engagement.. Rishi continues to show the path of entrepreneurship to the students of Silicon Valley by running various youth centric programs providing empowerment and leadership opportunities. Rishi can be found at linkedin.com/in/rickkumar

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