Zscaler CEO Jay Chaudhry tops 7 desis in 2021 Forbes 400

Jay Chaudhry
Jay Chaudhry; photo credit: Zscaler

They make the list of 400 wealthiest Americans in what Forbes called “a terrible year for many.”

As former president Donald Trump fell off the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans for first time in 25 years in what it called “a terrible year for many,” seven Indian-Americans made it.

The 2021 Forbes 400 saw their collective fortune increase 40% over the last year, to $4.5 trillion. Nearly all are richer than they were a year ago.

There are 44 new names on the list, which now requires a minimum net worth of $2.9 billion, up $800 million from a year ago. the biggest jump in cutoff.

Topping the list of seven Indian American billionaires was Zscaler CEO Jay Chaudhry, 62, placed at 45 with a net worth of $16.3 billion.

READ: With a net worth of more than $10 billion, Jay Chaudhry is the richest Indian American (April 10, 2021)

He was followed by Vinod Khosla (92), Rakesh Gangwal (253), Romesh T. Wadhwani (333), Niraj Shah (340), Aneel Bhusri (363) and Baiju Bhatt (389).

The cybersecurity firm Chaudhry founded in 2008, went public in March 2018. He and his family own 42% of the Nasdaq-listed firm.

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

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

His hometown, a village in the Himalayas in India, did not have electricity or running water until he was in the 8th and 10th grade, respectively.

READ: Seven Indian Americans among 2020 Forbes 400 billionaires (September 9, 2020)

Chaudhry moved to the US in 1980 to attend graduate school and now lives in Nevada, after relocating from the Bay Area.

Vinod Khosla, 66, Partner, Khosla Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. follows at 92 with a net worth of $8.6 billion.

The firm, which invests in experimental technologies such as biomedicine and robotics scored exits in 2020 and early 2021 with IPOs of Affirm and DoorDash and SPAC listings of QuantumScape and Opendoor.

Khosla cofounded computer hardware firm Sun Microsystems in 1982 with Andy Bechtolsheim, Bill Joy and Scott McNealy.

Khosla spent 18 years at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (now called Kleiner Perkins) before launching his own fund.

READ: Seven Indian Americans on the Forbes list of 400 richest Americans (October 7, 2019)

Khosla earned a Master of Science at Carnegie Mellon University; Bachelor of Arts/Science, Indian Institute of Technology; Master of Business Administration, Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Third richest among Indian Americans was Airline veteran Rakesh Gangwal, 68, placed at 253 with a net worth of $4.4 billion.

Gangwal made his fortune from InterGlobe Aviation, the parent outfit of budget airline IndiGo, India’s largest by market share.

Gangwal started his airline career with United Airlines in 1984 and went on to run US Airways Group as its chief executive and chairman.

Gangwal cofounded IndiGo, headquartered outside Delhi, with pal Rahul Bhatia (also a billionaire) in 2006 with one aircraft. The Miami resident owns close to 37% of the company and serves as a board member.

READ: Meet the three Indian American women on Forbes list of America’s Self-Made Women of 2019 (June 8, 2019)

Gangwal and Bhatia had a bitter falling out in 2019 over corporate governance issues. Their dispute reached courts in London, Florida and Maryland, Forbes said.

Gangwal has a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology; Master of Business Administration, University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School.

Romesh T. Wadhwani, 74, Founder and Chairman, Symphony Technology Group, ranked 333 on Forbes list with a net worth of $3.5 billion comes next.

Wadhwani, whose Symphony Technology Group brings in $2.5 billion in annual revenues. combined nine of his companies that were AI-focused into a new group called SymphonyAI in 2017.

After graduating from the Indian Institute of Technology, he went to Carnegie Mellon and received a PhD in 1972 in electrical engineering.

READ: Five Indian Americans on Forbes 400 list (October 4, 2018)

The serial entrepreneur later founded Aspect Development. He sits on the boards of the Kennedy Center and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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, 47, cofounder and CEO of online home goods retailer Wayfair, was next ranked 340 with a net worth of $3.4 billion.

He started the business in 2002 with Steve Conine, who is also a billionaire. The two met as high school students at a program at Cornell University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering.

Shah and Conine ended up living in the same dorm their freshman year at Cornell and became good friends.

READ: 10 Indian Americans on the Forbes billionaires list (March 6, 2018)

Wayfair, which now offers more than 18 million products, generated $14 billion in net revenue in 2020, up 55% from the previous year.

Shah joined the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in 2017.

Aneel Bhusri, 55, CEO and Cofounder of business software firm Workday, was ranked 363 with a net worth of $3.2 billion.

He cofounded the firm with Dave Duffield, the founder of PeopleSoft, where he started his career in the early 1990s and he rose to become vice chairman.

He also works as an advisory partner at venture capital firm Greylock Partners; he’s been on the Forbes Midas List six times since 2008. He studied electrical engineering at Brown University and has an MBA from Stanford.

READ: Romesh Wadhwani richest of eight Indian American billionaires (March 21, 2017)

In May 2018, Bhusri joined the Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world’s wealthiest people to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

Baiju Bhatt, 36, who cofounded no-fee stock trading app Robinhood in 2013 with his friend Vlad Tenev, rounds off the Desi list ranked 389 with a net worth of $2.9 billion.

Bhatt was co-CEO of Robinhood until November 2020, when he stepped down from that position. Since its launch, Robinhood’s no-commission trading model has revolutionized the brokerage industry.

In July 2021, Robinhood went public on the Nasdaq exchange at a $32 billion valuation. Bhatt owns around 8% of the company. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Stanford University.

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