For the first time, 15 Indian Americans in the Forbes billionaires club.
Jay Chaudhry, CEO of the cyber security firm Zscaler, made a big jump up the world’s list of billionaires this past year to become the richest Indian American. Now worth a staggering $10.6 billion, his net worth increased nearly fourfold since the same time last year, according to Forbes. The Saratoga, California, resident is now the 228th richest person in the world in the magazine’s latest list of billionaires.
The 61-year-old is also the richest South Asian American, overtaking Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, a Pakistani American, who is ranked 308th in the Forbes list of global billionaires with a net worth of $8 billion. Khan has been the wealthiest South Asian American for the past several years.
Ranked as the 85th richest American on Forbes 400 list last year, Chaudhry comes from humble beginnings. He was born in Panoh, a small village in the Una district in Himachal Pradesh, 230 miles to the north of New Delhi, which did not have electricity or running water until he was in his teens.
READ: 10 Indian Americans on the Forbes billionaires list (March 6, 2018)
Chaudhry founded Zscaler in 2007, after launching a string of tech companies. According to its website, the San Jose-based company “operates the world’s largest cloud security platform, protecting thousands of enterprises and government agencies from cyberattacks and data loss.”
Zscaler went public in 2018. Today the Nasdaq-listed company has a market capitalization of more than $25 billion. The Chaudhrys reportedly own 45 percent of the company.
Filings with the Security Exchange Commission show that Zscaler, which employs 2,800 people, generated revenue of more than $431 million in 2020.
Jagtar Singh “Jay” Chaudhry was born in 1959, as the youngest of three sons of Bhagat Singh and Surjeet Kaur. Despite having to walk more than two miles to his school every day, he topped his class and went on to attend the Banaras Hindu University, which is now part of the Indian Institutes of Technology.
READ: Romesh Wadhwani richest of eight Indian American billionaires (March 21, 2017)
In 1980, Chaudhry moved to the United States to attend grad school at University of Cincinnati. He obtained a master’s degree in industrial, electrical and computer engineering and an MBA from the university.
In 1996, Chaudhry launched his first internet security company, SecureIT, Inc, in Atlanta. Two years later, the company was acquired by VeriSign, which specializes in services and internet infrastructure and domain name registry. He moved to the Bay Area to join VeriSign as a Vice President & General Manager, and lead the company’s security services division.
In 2000, the Indian American entrepreneur moved back to Atlanta to start two tech companies. Both would become part of two technology giants. The first one, CoreHarbor, Inc, eventually became part of AT&T and the second company, cyber security firm CipherTrust, was acquired by McAfee.
AirDefense, another Atlanta company he founded in 2002, became a market leader in wireless network security and was acquired by Motorola.
Chaudhry and his wife, Jyoti, have three children.
READ: Seven Indian Americans among 2020 Forbes 400 billionaires (September 9, 2020)
While he stands at the top of the mountain of Indian American wealth, Chaudhry is joined by an ever growing list of billionaires from the community. There are currently 15 members of the Indian American billionaires club.
In second place, behind Chaudhry, is 67-year old airline tycoon Rakesh Gangwal. With a net worth of $3.9 billion, the IndiGo airline co-founder was listed as the 752nd richest person in the world, according to Forbes.
They are followed closely behind by Wayfair CEO and cofounder Niraj Shah, with a net worth of $3.6 billion. Shah started the online home goods retail giant in 2002 with Steve Conine, his friend and roommate at Cornell University. The Indian American businessman is listed as the 831st richest person in the world.
Tied as the fourth richest Indian American in the world are Romesh T. Wadhwani and Apoorva Mehta, who both have a net worth of $3.5 billion, ranking them as the 859th richest people in the world. Wadhwani is the chairman and CEO of Symphony Technology Group and Mehta is the CEO and founder of Instacart.