Date: Friday , November 21, 2008
Place of Birth Delhi
Residence Los Altos Hills, CA
Family Wife, 2 kids, 2 dogs
Came to the U.S. 1978
Education MSEE, SUNY Stonybrook; BSEE, BITS, Pilani
First job and career Burroughs Corporation, Engineer
Company started 1986
Year did an IPO 1994
Year became millionaire 1994
Favorite charity Education and learning institutions
Lifetime goals Be a model parent
Net worth Substantial
Philosophy of life Do unto others, as you would expect them to do to you
Most inspired by The HP philosophy of building a caring organization
Most excited by Closing a deal
Most expensive thing ever bought What else but a house in Silicon Valley!
In the early ’80s, while the rest of the world was just waking up to the thought of owning PCs, Ajay Chopra went off to Switzerland to work with a Zurich-based watchmaker to design a computer mouse. Today, he is the co-founder and chairman of the board at Pinnacle Systems, a Silicon Valley company that is the premier supplier of tools for the creation of visual content.
Twenty years ago, Chopra, a 20-something from New Delhi set foot on Long Island, New York with a song in his heart and a dream to forge in a foreign land. By any means, Ajay Chopra, limited only by his imagination, could be the poster child for Silicon Valley’s boundless energy.
His company’s aims to provide tools geared toward seamlessly integrating audio-visual content, believing that the user will live by the principle of: I create, I store, I stream. Quite obviously, consumers love it; Pinnacle Systems now occupies 53 percent of the market for content creation. It creates digital video-editing products that target professional videographers and camcorder-toting dads capturing baby’s first steps on tape.
Its consumer appeal lies in its promise to help create productions faster and more affordably than ever before. Traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol PCLE, its products are based on revved-up video manipulations that offer real-time interactivity, open systems and ease of use.
Currently, the company is moving into the Internet distribution arena. It’s an integrated approach that reflects the corporate mission to essentially own the entire process of delivering media to end-users. “We believe that the world is going to move from broadcasting to targetcasting. Take croquet, which nobody broadcasts. If I can tune into a channel and you can also tune into the same channel and we can share that experience, and chat about what’s going on . . . it’s no longer broadcasting, it’s targetcasting — geared toward only those people with a special interest in croquet.”
At about the time that Apple went public in 1977 and Intel’s first microprocessors came out, time and circumstances had placed Chopra at the frontier of the new revolution in GUIs and computer-based communications. His early stints in Silicon Valley include Atari, where he worked in its computer division and developed the Atari 1200 game, and a three-year period at Mindset, a startup that eventually floundered. But the then 29-year-old Chopra came out stronger, smarter and savvier. “Two other guys and I spun off in late 1985. We started to meet in my living room to think about what we ought to be doing next. We learned a lot from what happened at Mindset. We obviously had a very graphic-oriented bias and a network-oriented bias.” In 1986, Pinnacle Systems was founded on three core principles: the customer comes first; people make the business; encourage diverse ideas.
Does the wired 43-year-old expect his pre-teen sons to light up a trail across a global landscape?
“I believe they have to forge their own footsteps. I think the value of hard work is very important, the value of defining what you have an interest in and what you can become good at... In my experience, it doesn’t matter what it is, so long as you’re the best at it.”