Seven Indian-Americans Make The Forbes Wealthiest Americans List

America’s 400 richest are worth a record $3.2 trillion, up $240 billion from a year ago despite the pandemic.

The Indian American
4 min read
America’s 400 richest are worth a record $3.2 trillion, up $240 billion from a year ago despite the pandemic.

The 2020 Forbes list of 400 Richest People in America has featured seven Americans of Indian-origin. The list has been topped by Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, for the third year in a row with a net worth of $179 billion.

"Pandemic be damned: America’s 400 richest are worth a record $3.2 trillion, up $240 billion from a year ago, aided by a stock market that has defied the virus," said Forbes.

The top five spots were occupied by the 'usual suspects', following Bezos. At number two was Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-founder Bill Gates at a net worth of USD 111 billion. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg came in third at USD 85 billion. He was followed by Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet, who ranked 4th with a net worth of USD 73.5 billion and chairman, chief technology officer and cofounder of software giant Oracle Larry Ellison, ranked 5th with a net worth of USD 72 billion.

Jay Chaudhry, CEO, ZScaler

Jay Chaudhry
Jay Chaudhry
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook/ZScaler)

Jay Chaudhry, CEO of ZScaler, a cybersecurity firm he founded in 2008, ranked 85th with a net worth of $6.9 billion.

Chaudhry comes from a "village in the Himalayas", said Forbes, and moved to the US to pursue higher education.

In 1996, Chaudhry and his wife, Jyoti, both quit their jobs and put in their life savings to start cybersecurity firm SecureIT, his first startup.

Before ZScaler, Chaudhry founded four other tech companies that were all acquired: SecureIT, CoreHarbor, CipherTrust and AirDefense.

Romesh Wadhwani, CEO, Symphony Technology Group

Romesh Wadhwani
Romesh Wadhwani
(Photo Courtesy: LinkedIn)

A graduate from an Indian Institute of Technology, Romesh Wadhwani is ranked 238th. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of Symphony Technology Group, a private firm that is created to invest and provide financial backups to start-ups and operating companies, which brings in $2.5 billion in annual revenues.

He and his brother, Sunil, founded the Wadhwani Institute of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Mumbai in 2018, committing over $30 million.

Niraj Shah, CEO, Wayfair

Niraj Shah, co-founder and CEO of online home goods retailer Wayfair.
Niraj Shah, co-founder and CEO of online home goods retailer Wayfair.
(Photo Courtesy: LinkedIn)

The 299th spot on the Forbes list is occupied by Niraj Shah, cofounder and CEO of online home goods retailer Wayfair, with a net worth of $2.8 Billion.

Before founding Wayfair with his freshman dorm-mate from Cornell University, Niraj served as CEO and co-founder of Simplify Mobile, an enterprise software company which was sold in 2001.

Wayfair, which now offers more than 18 million products, generated $9.1 billion in net revenue in 2019, up 35 percent from the previous year, Forbes said.

Vinod Khosla, Founder, Khosla Ventures.

Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures.
Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@vkhosla) 

The founder of Khosla Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Vinod Khosla featured at the 353rd spot on the list, His firm invests in experimental technologies such as biomedicine and robotics, and has earned him a net worth of $2.4 billion.

Khosla is also a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi. After graduating from IIT, "Vinod failed to start a soymilk company to service the many people in India who did not have refrigerators", says his company website.

"Vinod grew up dreaming of being an entrepreneur, despite being from an Indian army household with no business or technology connections. Since the age of 16, when he first heard about the founding of Intel, he dreamt of starting his own technology company".

Who are the Others?

The 359th spot is shared by three Indian-American entrepreneurs.

First, there's Aneel Bhusri. He is the CEO of business software firm Workday, which he cofounded with Dave Duffield, the founder of PeopleSoft, with a net-worth of $2.3 billion. With an education from Brown University and Stanford, Bhusri joined the Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world's wealthiest people to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

Sharing the spot is airline veteran Rakesh Gangwal, who made his fortune from InterGlobe Aviation, the parent outfit of budget airline IndiGo, India’s largest by market share.

Gangwal cofounded IndiGo, headquartered outside Delhi, with Rahul Bhatia (with whom he later had a falling out) in 2006 with one aircraft. His present net worth is $2.3 billion.

The third Indian-American on the spot is an early Google backer, Kavitark Ram Shriram. He has sold most of his stocks but remains on the board of its parent company, Alphabet. Born in India, Shriram studied math at the University of Madras. After moving to the US, he joined Netscape in 1994 as an executive.

Later he became president of Junglee, an online comparison shopping firm acquired by Amazon in 1998. Ram briefly took on a vice president position at Amazon.

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