Narendra And Vinita Gupta
Date: Friday , November 21, 2008
The Guptas are often touted as a model couple in Silicon Valley, but they also seem of a bygone era. They are both successful entrepreneurs, walk out of their offices by 7 p.m., take weekends off and, according to Narendra, have had lots of fun along the way.
“The biggest payoff to me has been the fun” of starting a company, taking it public, and being its CEO for 14 years, he says. “Me and Vinita had a great time, we have had a vacation every year for the last 20 years, traveled all over the place, (and spent) a lot of time with the kids,” he says.
Narendra says he was never in it for the money. In fact, when he started Integrated Systems in 1980, people told him not to. Inflation was at a high of 18 percent and unemployment was at 10 percent, he recalls. Besides, startups were not in fashion as they are now and venture capital was harder to come by. In fact, Narendra didn’t even bother to chase it. It was also more difficult to hire top management talent. So why did Gupta venture to start a company?
“For the fun of it,” and “to be your own boss.” Since he started ISI, a maker of embedded software, Narendra has faced a lot of challenges and all along, Vinita has been her husband’s “best mentor.” Once, as she fought vigorously for her husband during a 1992 boardroom battle, a pregnant Vinita broke water and had to be rushed to hospital where she delivered their second daughter.
Besides sitting on the board of ISI and running a home, Vinita has pursued her own career. In 1985, she started Digital Link, a maker of network management devices, and has been its chairwoman for 15 years now. Digital Link has also faced an enormous number of challenges, first when Vinita’s partner opted out because he didn’t believe the startup would succeed. Later, after she guided Digital through an IPO, it faced an insider trading class action lawsuit by the feared attorney Bill Lerach in 1996. Last year, she also became the company’s CEO and since then has embarked on an “adventurous path” by re-privatizing the company. It is now 100-percent employee-owned and, by making it so, Vinita expects the company to acquire the spirit of a startup. She also renamed the company Quick Eagle Networks.
As she faces newer challenges, Vinita has also acquired a legendary reputation as a woman entrepreneur in the Valley and is a role model to many aspiring entrepreneurs. She has also been named to several honors by women’s organizations and publications including Working Woman and the San Francisco Business Times.
Bala Murali Krishna