Indian-Americans are among the wealthiest, most-educated ethnic groups in the United States, according to various studies over the years. Yet it is only in recent years that members of the community have become known as prominent business personalities, in part because the chief executive officers of both Microsoft and Google are of Indian origin.
The annual Forbes list of the wealthiest Americans, however, points to many other prominent members of the community who may not be household names like Sundar Pichai or Satya Nadella, yet have nevertheless made their marks in the business world.
The 2020 list carries eight businessmen – and indeed, they are all men – of Indian origin, one up from last year’s numbers.
According to Forbes, the 400 richest Americans are worth $3.2 trillion in all, $240 billion more than 2019. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos continues to be the richest man on the planet for the third year in a row. His net worth is $179 billion, while the last person on the list is worth $2.1 billion.
Here are the Indian Americans that are on the list of 400 wealthiest Americans in 2020.
Jay Chaudhry, the founder of cybersecurity firm Zscaler, broke into the top hundred of the wealthiest Americans’ list after being placed at the 225th position in 2019. In 2020, the 61-year-old businessman of Indian origin is ranked 85 on the list of top 400 wealthiest Americans.
Currently worth $6.9 billion, Chaudhry grew up in a small village in the Himalayas that did not even promise regular running wate, according to Bloomberg.
Forbes reported that he moved to the US in 1980 to pursue higher education at the University of Cincinnati. Before Zscaler, Chaudhry founded four other companies too – SecureIT, CoreHarbor, CipherTrust and AirDefense – that were acquired.
Chaudhry, along with his family, currently owns 45% stake in Zscaler. He lives in Saratoga, California.
Romesh Wadhwani climbed up 23 spots from his 2019 rank to be placed at 238 on the list of the wealthiest Americans in 2020. The chairman and CEO of the Symphony Technology Group – a private equipty firm that operates in the Silicon Valley – Wadhwani’s net worth is $3.4 billion.
Wadhwani was born in Karachi (now in Pakistan) and his family moved to India after Partition. He pursued his education from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and then moved to the US to complete his PhD in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania.
According to a report by Fortune India, Wadhwani impressed Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the latter’s first visit to New York after being elected, by sharing his vision of large-scale job creation in India. “It was not just the idea, they bonded at the passion level too,” Ajay Kela, president and chief executive of the not-for-profit Wadhwani Foundations was quoted as saying.
Wadhwani was also ranked 83 on the Forbes list of the 100 richest tech billionaires in the world in 2017. Currently, he sits on the boards of the Kennedy Center and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and lives in Palo Alto, California.
A returnee to the Forbes list of 400 wealthiest Americans, after falling off it in 2019, Niraj Shah, the CEO of online home goods retailer Wayfair is ranked 299 in the 2020 edition of the list. He is currently worth $2.8 billion.
Shah is a resident of Boston, Massachusetts. He studied at Cornell University where he met Steve Conine who is also a billionaire. The duo started an online company, that eventually became Wayfair, in 2002. Wayfair generated $9.1 billion in net revenue in 2019, 35% more from 2019.
Shah grew up in Pittsfield when his parents immigrated to the US, The Boston Globe reported. In 2017, he joined the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
Vinod Khosla is arguably one of the more popular Indians who first made their mark in the field of technology in the US. Ranked 388 in 2019, Khosla moved up to the 353rd spot in 2020 on the Forbes list of 400 wealthiest Americans. His current net worth is $2.4 billion.
Khosla received a degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, a masters in biomedical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University, and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Khosla co-founded computer hardware firm Sun Microsystems in 1982 with Andy Bechtolsheim, Bill Joy, and Scott McNealy, and left the company in 1985. He is also the founder of Khosla Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. The venture capitalist currently lives in Portola Valley, California.
Kavitark Ram Sriram
Another person of Indian origin who bettered their 2019 ranking on the Forbes 400 richest Americans list is the managing partner of Sherpalo Ventures, Kavitark Ram Sriram. He is currently ranked 359, a spot he shares with three other people of Indian origin. His net worth is $2.3 billion.
Sriram is best known for his role as one of the earliest backers of Google. Although he has sold most of his stock in the company, he remains a part of the board of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
Sriram earned a degree in mathematics from the University of Madras before moving to the US where he joined Netscape in 1994. He founded Sherpalo Ventures in January 200 after stints at Junglee and Amazon, “with the goal of applying his wealth of operating and company building experience to promising early-stage ventures”.
Sriram currently resides in Menlo Park, California.
In 2019, Rakesh Gangwal, co-founder of the IndiGo airlines, was ranked 207, the highest for an Indian American on the Forbes list of richest Americans. This year, he slipped over a hundred places to be ranked 359. Gangwal’s net worth is $2.3 billion.
Gangwal studied at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The website of IIT Kanpur also lists him as a distinguished alumnus of the college.
Gangwal had started his career in aviation with United Airlines in 1984. He also served as the CEO of the US Airways Group. He co-founded the IndiGo airlines with Rahul Bhatia in 2006. During their extremely public falling-out in 2019, Gangwal had told Securities and Exchange Board of India’s chief Ajay Tyagi that corporate governance norms and laws and the company’s code of conduct for directors had been violated at the company, Business Standard had reported. Gangwal currently owns 37% stake in the company and is also a board member. He lives in Miami, Florida.
Yet another person of Indian origin ranked 359 on this year’s Forbes 400 richest Americans list is Aneel Bhusri, the CEO and co-founder of Workday, an on-demand financial and human capital management network. Climbing up eleven spots from his 2019 rank, Bhusri’s net worth is $2.3 billion.
Bhusri studied electrical engineering at Brown University and went on to earn his MBA degree from Stanford. In the early days of his career, he worked for the software company PeopleSoft where he rose to the position of a vice-chairman. Bhusri has made it to the Forbes Midas list of top tech investors six times since 2008.
In 2018, Bhusri joined the Giving Pledge – “a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to giving back”. In April 2020, Bhusri donated $1 million to coronavirus relief aid in San Francisco where he currently resides.
Brian Sheth, co-founder and President of Vista Equity Partners is another businessman of Indian origin to be ranked 359 in the Forbes list of 400 wealthiest Americans in 2020. His net worth is $2.3 billion.
Sheth is a first-generation Indian American who was born in Acton, Massachusetts. He holds a degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the chairman of Global Wildlife Conservation, an environmental foundation based in Austin, Texas.