Date: Monday , September 03, 2007
It’s been 10 most exciting years of our lives since we started SiliconIndia. For technology professionals of Indian origin in the U.S., this decade has brought about the sea change from having to fight all kind of glass ceiling in corporate America to being accepted as great techies, managers, and entrepreneurs. In the last 9 months only, we have had seven Indian-founded and managed tech companies go public (Starent Networks, Cavium Networks, BladeLogic, Netezza, Aruba Networks, Isilon Systems, Infinera Corp). When we started doing SI20 feature in the magazine a couple of years after our launch, our readers found it difficult to believe that there were 20 Indian managed public tech companies in the U.S.
A lot has changed but our initial goals still remain our guiding light. When we started the magazine in 1997, we gave these two promises to our subscribers:
Our aim is to provide information, news, analysis, and opinion on business and technology in India and the United States.
It is a forum for Indian professionals to interact, exchange information, develop business relations, and share industry expertise.
This is taken from the emails that I used to send in 1997-’98 to offer complimentary subscription of the magazine to Indian professionals in the U.S. The first promise is something that which any normal magazine would have offered. It was the second promise about providing a forum that made us kind of unique. This sounded very much like the promise any social and professional networking site offers these days, only we made the offer in 1997. One of the pleasant experiences all along these ten eventful years has been that the Indian tech leaders have been very supportive and willing to share their experiences and visions with the community.
As a business, since the beginning we have had a social goal of creating a community of Indian technologists along with the normal goal, like any other business, of creating value for the shareholders. When we began, we had only the U.S. based professionals as our target audience, but it was not long before we found that there was a need for information about doing business with India, leveraging India for tech businesses in the U.S., and bringing together the tech leaders in India and the U.S. in an organized community. These have been the drivers for us during the last 10 years. This has resulted in us doing tech events in the U.S. and India, annual conferences in the U.S., highlighting top 100 Indian-owned and managed tech firms in the U.S. by the now well known Si100 list, publishing books on doing business with India (e.g., IT services directory, BPO directory, and the upcoming Inside India Development Centers), and now expanding SiliconIndia.com to provide services to enable a global network of professional Indians.
On the debut issue of SiliconIndia, we had Vinod Khosla on the cover. The choice was rather simple because the initial spark to start the magazine had come from hearing his inspiring story, and that had a deep motivational effect on me. Even though it was only 10 years back, in those days, especially on east coast, it was very rare to find an Indian techie doing well in management and the general perception was that ‘you guys made good programmers but …’ We thought it would be great if we could have a magazine to bring out success stories like his to Indian techies in the U.S. so others could be inspired too.
One troubling question was ‘even if we could find successful Indians in the tech world, would they agree to share their wisdom and advice with an Indian magazine?’ So we decided to put the hypothesis to a litmus test and made an internal decision: if we could get Vinod to be on the cover, we will launch the magazine. We called him without any formal introduction and talked about the upcoming magazine and expressed our desire to interview him for the first cover story. He was very happy to give an interview and encouraged us on our magazine project and spoke of the need for it. That set off SiliconIndia that is still the only technology magazine in the U.S. that has an “ethnic” minority as its target audience.
In these ten years, we have gone through initial euphoria of “new” magazine, evergreen support of immigration attorneys and IT service firms, getting funded by investors, dotcom boom with 200 pages issues, board member queries about not having enough burn rate, sold out annual conferences, rise of BPO business in India, leveraging our own BPO to survive the tech bust, being first one to organize “India is hiring” job fairs in U.S., Canada and Singapore, launching a sister publication “The SmartTechie” from Bangalore and now using siliconindia.com to connect Indian professionals globally through career, talent and social development programs.
For this tenth anniversary issue, we bring out a cover story on GCI. This is a company where the current management took over about the same time we launched the magazine and was located less then 10 miles from our office. We have watched them progress for the last ten years from close quarters. They represent the IT services business, bastion of Indian techies, in the US.
When we started planning for this special issue, we thought that we would get just about 10 tech leaders to share their thoughts about India and the Indian business leaders in the U.S. But to our great surprise so many tech leaders, both in the U.S. and in India, cheerfully came forward and spent their valuable time in preparing wonderful articles wherein they share their ideas and visions in a meticulous fashion--perceptibly the same scrupulous manner in which they have contributed to the tech world. This will remain a cherished memory for us for a long time to come.
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief