Prakash Agarwal

Date:   Friday , November 21, 2008

Age 46 years
Place of Birth Hamirpur (U.P.) India

Residence Los Altos Hills, CA

Family Married with two children

Came to the U.S. 1972

Education BSEE and MSEE University of Illinois

First job Intermedics Inc

Company started NeoMagic, 1993

Year did an IPO 1997

Year became millionaire -

Favorite charity Schools online

Lifetime goals Make NeoMagic one of the hottest companies in high-tech industry

Net worth Your guess is as good as anyone else’s

Philosophy of life Work hard, play hard with good heart, sound judgement and hard-working hands

Most inspired by India's Freedom Movement

Most excited by Revolution in Technology and Internet

Most expensive thing ever bought My education which has no price

Prakash Agarwal comes from a rather conservative school as far as entrepreneurship goes. Not only did he not jump into entrepreneurship, he also believes that the newer generation should exercise caution and not feel frustrated by the challenges of working their way up the career ladder.

Agarwal had lived in the United States for almost two decades before taking a chance on NeoMagic, a company that makes graphics chips for mobile computers.

By that time, he had earned bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois; spent several years at another startup, Cirrus Logic, co-founded by Suhas Patil; and attained an expertise in mobile computing.

Agarwal had just one caveat for aspiring entrepreneurs. He says, “Because of recent successes, they think that is the way to go, but they have to pay their dues and learn the skills, and not be frustrated (by having to work for somebody).”

The NeoMagic founder joined Cirrus Logic when it was an eight-person outfit; at the time of his 1993 departure, the company employed over 2,000 people. Agarwal was vice president of the company’s mobile products division when he decided to explore the physical possibilities of a project that had existed on the drawing board for a long period of time: integrating the memory and logic chips and enable high-quality multimedia on laptop computers.

Agarwal says that although the concept did not pose too many technological challenges, it did present a challenge in terms of making its production commercially viable. In the mid-1990s, while NeoMagic ventured to exploit opportunities on the Internet, Fortune magazine counted it among the hottest new companies out there.

But it hasn’t always been easy, and the company’s full potential seems to be yet unrealized. Its stock price, usually a good indicator of a company’s profitability, has languished for the most part of its three-year history as a public company. Recently it dipped to a low of almost $6.

Nonetheless, NeoMagic remains a leader in its category, accounting for over 40 percent market share, and has advanced design centers in far-flung cities: Tel Aviv, Manchester and Kanpur. It also recently acquired an Israeli firm.

Agarwal is currently “restructuring” and repositioning the company in a bid to exploit new opportunities in DVDs (digital video disks), video cameras and other devices.

“We are looking at which direction to go,” he said. “Anything we do will take into account our core competencies.”

When starting out, Agarwal says he never set goals for himself, content to merely “grab opportunities” as they came along.

He comments that, since today’s society is changing so fast, it may not be too wise to spend too much time at the drawing board.

One thing he’s recently moved from the planing stages to actualization is a special goal in the area of educational philanthropy. He is working closely with his alma mater, the University of Illinois, to offer scholarships to students.