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April - 2000 - issue > Cover Feature
Ajaib Bhadare
Friday, November 21, 2008

Age 40
Place of Birth Punjab

Residence California

Family Wife, Son 10, Daughter 15

Education B.S, University of London

Company started Cerent

Year became millionaire 1999

Favorite charity

Lifetime goals Set new goals as existing ones get met.

Net worth $250 million+

Philosophy of life Share my experience and knowledge

Most inspired by Successful achievers

Most excited by Results

Most expensive thing ever bought Porsche Carrera.

Ajaib Bhadare was two years old when his parents left Punjab for England. He was schooled first in Birmingham and later received a bachelor of science degree from the University of London. In the winter of 1984, Bhadare, then 24, came to the United States, mainly for the experience of working abroad and to explore opportunities abroad. Working briefly in Phoenix, Arizona, Bhadare says, “opened up my mind,” but when he moved to the North Bay city of Petaluma, his mind opened up even more to entrepreneurship. Not only did Bhadare realize the many opportunities available, but also came to understand that these were within his reach. “In England, it was just not possible,” he said.

Bhadare was working for startup company Optilink when one of the most powerful personalities in Silicon Valley, Vinod Khosla, came calling. The Kleiner Perkins VC had joined hands with a few others to start a company that proposed to fashion the old Sonet technology to ease strong demands for bandwidth — and was looking for a systems and operations guy. Bhadare says Khosla approached him through Raj Singh, another venture capitalist who is counted as a Cerent founder. Khosla appeared to make up his mind quickly and very soon Bhadare was on board.

By mid-1999, as companies such as Juniper Networks and Redback Networks completed hugely successful initial public offerings, it became clear that Cerent was going to be a sizzler itself.

“We realized we were on to something huge,” Bhadare recalls. More drama lay ahead.

As Cerent was readying itself for an IPO and Khosla, who played a central role in the company’s development, was holidaying in South America, Cisco came out of the blue, buying the privately held company for an estimated $6.9 billion. Although Cerent never made it to Wall Street, it ended up being one of the hottest startups of the year.

“It’s something I am still getting used to,” says Bhadare. “I am not paying too much attention to the valuation.”

Success hasn’t changed his life too much, at least. not yet.

“I have been so busy,” he says. “People always talk about the money side; money has a lot of importance but beyond a certain amount it doesn’t make a difference.” Like many Indians, Bhadare thinks money ceases to be too important once you have a good car and a good house. “But I am still adjusting to the wealth side of things,” he says.

While Bhadare is still busy with fine-tuning the Cerent 454, the company’s flagship product, Bhadare says he is committed to Cisco for the next few years. But future plans include a role as advisor to multiple companies.

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