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Naveen Jain
Friday, November 21, 2008

Age 40
Place of Birth Meerut

Residence Medina, WA

Family Wife and 3 children

Came to the U.S. 1982

Education MBA, BS Engg.

First job and career Convergent Technology

Company started 1996

Year did an IPO 1999

Year became millionaire 1990

Favorite charity United Way

Lifetime goals Change how people access information, communicate, conduct commerce and otherwise manage their lives from wireless devices such as cellular phones.

Net worth Over $5 Billion (35 Million shares of Infospace based on $150 price. Other liquid investments in Xoom, Mail.com and InfoSpace shares sold)

Philosophy of life Have fun, make money and kick some butts

Most inspired by Bill Gates

Most excited by How Internet and cell phones can change how we live

Most expensive thing ever bought House

Naveen Jain is not the conventional Indian come good in Silicon Valley. That’s not only because he lives in Redmond, Washington but also because he is loud, outspoken, cocky and humorous. He is the media’s darling because he throws some great one-liners, quips that reflect the man. Here are some:

“I never dreamed of coming to the U.S., or starting a company.”

“Quitting Microsoft was a no-brainer.”

“No reason to get up before 4-30 a.m.” because there is no serious competitor.

“InfoSpace will be the portal of portals,” on positioning the company as a provider of information services to other Internet portals

“InfoSpace will be a trillion-dollar company.” Its market cap is about $19 billion.

“There was once an article in InfoWorld comparing Bill Gates and Naveen, and do you know who was the smarter one? Imagine that — it was Naveen!”

“Even toasters would be connected to the Internet,” playing the visionary in 1997.

“I would have put a bullet through my head!” on what he would have done if he failed after quitting Microsoft

The last one is not to be taken seriously. “But failure was not an option,” he maintains. It is not always clear if Jain says something merely to shock but, regardless, when he speaks, people sit up and listen.

Jain was born in Meerut. His father worked for the central government and the family moved from one city to another. So much so, Jain says there is still no place in India that he can consider home, and he never built up enduring friendships. But on the positive side, he grew comfortable with change.

In 1982, he came to the US armed with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and an M.B.A. He started his career with a job at Burroughs in New Jersey and later worked for a string of smaller companies before joining Microsoft in 1989. The hard, competitive environment at Microsoft appears to have brought the best out of Jain, who considers himself “street smart” and not as highly educated as his brother who holds a doctorate in mathematics.

Besides learning at lot at Microsoft during his seven-year career at the world’s largest software company, Jain was also inspired by Bill Gates.

In 1996, when he decided to quit, Jain had a comfortable lifestyle, and no mortgages to pay. But he also was highly motivated, possessed a lot of drive and used the acquired business savvy to create a near monopoly position for InfoSpace. What his company did is akin to what those who sold pans and shovels did during the Gold Rush, Jain says. If the Internet was going to be the new revolution, why not build an information infrastructure, he postulated.

InfoSpace is growing at ever-higher rates, as it feeding a Net-hungry world. Jain is a billionaire many times over, if you count the InfoSpace stock he still owns, but he drives the same three-year-old Lexus and when he kicks off his shoes at work, he reveals white socks beneath. He says he never wears any other.

Bala Murali Krishna

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