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August 21, 2013 at 3:54 PM
Here’s another teen heading back to school with a remarkable international adventure on their resume.
July 3, 2012 at 10:54 AM
As we prepare to celebrate America’s independence and all the things that make this a great country, I have a suggestion that could calm anxieties about immigration that may color the big day.
I think people should have a cold beer or two and take in the scene in Bellevue.
Start with the big picture of a sleepy Seattle suburb that has morphed into a thriving, cosmopolitan hub of the tech industry.
Then zoom in to a smaller setting, like the monthly Startup on Tap events held by The Indus Entrepreneurs organization.
The group, known as TiE, began in Silicon Valley in 1993 as a networking and support group for South Asian immigrants starting tech companies.
A Seattle chapter was established in 2000, backed by early Microsoft employees wanting to mentor the next generation of Indian entrepreneurs.
Early on, these would-be entrepreneurs faced challenges. For instance, when it came time to raise venture capital, “the VCs may not have been too comfortable with their accent or whatever,” recalls Vijay Vashee, a Microsoft veteran who founded the Seattle group.
“That’s going back 20-plus years,” he said. “Today if you go to Silicon Valley you’ll find people of Indian origin are general partners in all these (VC) firms.”
TiE helped things along by nurturing startups and getting them ready for funding deals. As those companies prospered, their founders became gurus to the next generation.
It worked almost too well. Entrepreneurs of Indian descent became so woven into the business community, the need for a group organized around race and ethnicity diminished. So the Seattle chapter reorganized and broadened its mission. It’s moving beyond supporting a particular ethnic group to provide help to anyone starting a company.
Anyone looking for advice on their business plan is welcome to join, or just have a beer or a glass of wine at Startup on Tap and other events TiE holds around the region.
“The whole ecosystem has moved to a point here where it’s not necessary to have the Indian focus now,” Vashee said. “We can now take it to the next step.”
Vashee — one of the first Indians hired at Microsoft, back in 1982 — said he became involved with TiE for several reasons. He wanted to mentor others of Indian origin, provide capital to their companies and integrate with mainstream America.
As these goals were realized, Vashee and other early TiE members cut back on their involvement in the group.
The last recession also took a toll, and membership fell below 100 as entrepreneurs turned to the profusion of startup networking and support groups that sprouted in the Seattle area as the economy picked up.
About a year and a half ago, TiE decided to reinvent itself. It diversified its board and more than doubled the number of “charter” members who underwrite the operations with $1,000 annual fees. Of the 45 charter members, five are now non-Indians and more are being sought. General membership is up around 50 percent to more than 160.
The group is also starting a formal angel investing program to back startups directly and involve people with non-tech companies.
“It’s not that we’re disowning our past or heritage. We’re expanding and building on that,” said chapter President Srivats Srinivasan, a Microsoft veteran who started digital-marketing company Nayamode in Redmond in 2005.
“We don’t want this to just be an Indian thing,” he added. “It’s about fostering entrepreneurship in the community we live in.”
Among the new charter members is Ivan Braiker, president of Hipcricket, a Kirkland mobile marketing and advertising company.
Braiker said he’s struck by how many people of different ethnicities are starting companies. It makes him wonder if there’s something wrong with our educational system that more nonimmigrants aren’t showing the same entrepreneurial drive.
“A lot of young folks aren’t focused in that direction. It’s more entitlement than work,” he said.
That’s disappointing, he said.
“At least from my perspective of being the average white American sitting in there and saying yes, there’s a lot of ethnicity here but there are not enough Caucasians in it,” he said, asking, “Where are they, where are those young entrepreneurs?”
Perhaps they don’t realize that at Startup on Tap, the first beer for members is on the house. The next round of mentoring and networking is at 5:30 p.m. July 10 at ViaVita Café in Bellevue.
Attracting the next generation is a familiar challenge for established groups, from TiE to Rotary to churches. Srinivasan said a recent focus has been to recruit younger charter members, such as American-born Kabir Shahani, 29, who co-founded Appature, a Seattle marketing software company.
“I’m really excited about what’s possible and the organization evolving and the tremendous resources they have both here in Seattle and the Valley,” Shahani said.
Moving beyond the ethnic focus isn’t just a Seattle phenomenon for TiE. It’s now a huge, international organization with a broader mission, and new chapters in places like Japan and Belgium are being started and led mostly by non-Indians, Vashee said.
It sounds like they’re following the melting-pot formula that’s been so successful in Seattle and Silicon Valley, and America at large.
“Here what we found is that whenever a startup is created, eventually the integration with the mainstream efforts is critical for the startup to succeed,” Vashee said. “The sooner you get into that mood, the better off you’re going to be.”
Vashee has a unique perspective on these things.
He grew up in Zimbabwe and experienced resentment of Indians living and doing business on the African continent. This reached a crescendo when Idi Amin expelled them from Uganda in 1972. Some 15 years later, Vashee recalled, a new president of Uganda came to Seattle and met with people of Indian origin, asking them to return and help build up the country.
Vashee stayed on Mercer Island. Lately, he’s been investing in medical-technology and energy companies along the West Coast and participating in local startup groups like the Alliance of Angels.
“I really think America needs more startups,” he said. “The future jobs are not going to come from these big companies. They’re driven by earnings per share and things like that; when it’s time to fire they fire.”
Vashee noted that 40 or 50 years ago there was no Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Google, Oracle or Facebook and those companies “today generate a huge part of the American economy. We need that.”
Now there’s something to toast on the Fourth of July.
April 13, 2010 at 2:25 PM
Tech journos from California to New York are plunging into the breaking story of Microsoft’s new help-desk vendor signing a three year contract.
Microsoft and other big companies have used outside companies to provide their employees help-desk services for years.
But if Microsoft’s $175,000-a -year engineers know so much about Windows, shouldn’t they be able to stop what they’re doing and help their less technically inclined co-workers configure printers and recover lost passwords?
Seriously, what kind of place are they running over there?
What’s really sinister about Microsoft’s new contract, though, is that it involves an Indian company known for outsourcing.
Infosys received the contract and called it out with a press release this morning. “The Microsoft of India” has already been providing tech services for Microsoft in some areas. Now it has signed a master agreement to take over all sorts of contracts that had been assigned to various vendors. Infosys will do work that’s now being farmed out to HP, Siemens, Fujitsu, Accenture, Satyam, Wipro, TCS, HCL, Unisys and Infosys.
It gets worse, my friends. Infosys is not only doing work for Microsoft in India and Bellevue, it’s also subcontracting Microsoft’s help-desk work to Blue Bell, Pa.-based Unisys, which also has a big office in Bellevue.
With outsourcers outsourcing this work, I hope the folks in Redmond can understand the accents. (Unisys is based near Philadelphia, where you can hardly tell what people are saying sometimes …)
Previously much of Microsoft’s help-desk services were outsourced to another foreign outfit — Siemens, a conglomerate based in Germany, won the contract in 2005 to little fanfare.
This checkered story of the globalization of IT services also involves Silicon Valley. Before it used Siemens and Infosys, Microsoft outsourced much of its help-desk services to Hewlett-Packard, which offloads tech support to workers in India and elsewhere. HP’s contract was worth tens of millions when it was signed in 2002, according to tragically overlooked CNET article at the time. Prior to that HP contract, Microsoft used Siemens for much of its help-desk services.
Stay tuned: Next up is an in-depth look at Microsoft’s janitorial and mailroom vendor contracts.
You’d think a company that put a “recycle bin” on millions of desktops would be able to handle this sort of thing internally, but no.
March 25, 2010 at 5:02 PM
India may see an opportunity to boost manufacturing of PCs and other electronics if Google’s pullout is followed by more tech companies repelled by China’s policies.
After meeting this week with Michael Dell, India’s prime minister said the Texas PC giant may be looking for a “safer environment” than China for its manufacturing, according to a Bloomberg report.
This could be a bombshell. China losing Google’s search business is a big deal, but the potential of losing Dell is enormous. The company spends $25 billion a year on components from China, the Bloomberg report said.
Bloomberg reported the story after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released a statement about his meeting with Dell.
A Dell spokeswoman denied that Dell discussed changing sourcing of components, and Singh’s statement was removed from India’s press bureau Web site.
This could get scary.
December 7, 2009 at 1:54 PM
Top talent at Microsoft and other multinational companies better have their passports ready.
The head of Microsoft’s India business group, Ravi Venkatesan, told the Wall Street Journal that companies will be rotating talent to fast-growing countries and having more Indian workers spend time abroad to develop experience.
It’s part of a “more proactive global talent development agenda” he’s predicting.
“Over the coming years I see a few trends. I see global companies paying much more attention to talent. The best companies will rotate their highest potential talent through places like India and China and Brazil as part of their development. We will also ‘export’ more talent from India to other parts of the world as part of the same global talent development process,” he said.
Venkatesan also expects multinationals to do more hiring of senior and middle management internally vs. external recruiting.
November 9, 2009 at 1:10 PM
Redmond isn’t the only place feeling the pain of Microsoft job cutbacks.
The software company is also putting the brakes on hiring in India this year, according to a report in the Business Standard.
“There will be no significant hiring,” Microsoft India Chairman Ravi Venkatesan said during the India Economic Summit, according to the paper.
Venkatesan said the company hired a few hundred people last year in India, where it employs 5,300.
The paper noted that this disclosure comes as major companies are doing fourth-quarter recruiting at Indian engineering and management schools.
October 27, 2009 at 1:22 PM
A group of 22 engineers at Microsoft’s Hyderabad campus found a frugal way to create a Windows 7 launch spectacle, with 7,000 dominoes.
May 20, 2009 at 9:15 PM
Bangalore-based outsourcing giant Infosys is hiring – in Bellevue.
March 11, 2009 at 3:59 PM
Nandan Nilekani, co-chairman of Infosys and one of the founding tycoons of India’s technology outsourcing industry, will speak in Seattle at a World Affairs Council event in Seattle on April 2.
Nilekani periodically comes to the area — he’s a regular at Bill Gates’ CEO Summit — but this visit comes shortly after the release of his new book, “Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation.” The book calls for India to emphasize innovation and reforms to continue its economic growth.
Nilekani’s April 2 lecture, sponsored by the Museum of History & Industry and the University of Washington Center for Information and Society, will “address India’s place in the burgeoning technology and business markets of the 21st Century we well as how technological innovation factors into India’s entrepreneurial growth. India’s growth in the IT sector will also be examined in the content of its international relationships,” according to today’s announcement.
The event costs $15 and begins at 7 p.m. at the Museum of History and Industry.
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