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April - 2000 - issue > Cover Feature
Prabhu Goel
Friday, November 21, 2008
Age 51
Place of Birth Meerut

Residence Atherton, CA

Family Wife Poonam and two children

Came to the U.S. 1970

Education B. Tech., IIT, Kanpur; M.S. & Ph. D, Carnegie Mellon

First job IBM

Company started Gateway Design Automation

Year did an IPO Sold to Cadence in 1989 for $80 million

Year became millionaire 1986

Favorite charity Foundation for Excellence

Lifetime goals Exit life as a decent being

Philosophy of life Do unto others what you would have them do unto you

Most inspired by Warren Buffett

Most excited by Positive results from investments in people

One of the earliest Indians to make a mark as an entrepreneur in the United States, Prabhu Goel has also led the way in philanthropy. When in 1989 he sold Gateway Design Automation, his first company, for about $80 million, Goel pledged $10 million toward educating the less privileged students in India. With the amount, he expected to help at least 10,000 students through college in India.

Goel was born in a middle class family where his father was a civil engineer. Growing up with five brothers and a sister, he understood how difficult it could be, even for a bright student, to gain quality education.

He did his schooling in Nainital and Allahabad, and attended the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur for undergraduate studies. When he secured admission for graduate study at Carnegie Mellon, his father had to borrow money to buy the air fare.

Goel recognizes that there are many who are less privileged even than he was, and his Foundation for Excellence (FFE), established in 1994, has sought to discover bright students that are at risk of dropping out of school for lack of financial means. To do this, the FFE shunned government agencies, instead enlisting US coordinators who worked closely with their friends and relatives in India to administer the program. In recent years, the FFE has also worked with social service organizations in India.

Over the past six years, the FFE has aided about 2,000 students in different parts of India. It has also received fresh infusion of capital in the form of a $5 million pledge over five years by angel investor Kanwal Rekhi.

In his profession, Goel has acquired a reputation for setting world standards in electronic design automation, or EDA. In 1973, he joined IBM’s EDA division, where he developed the Podem algorithm and other technologies that earned him four patents and several awards including the IBM Corporate Award for innovation.

He left in 1981 to join Wang Labs, where he gained insights into the commercial world of EDA. In 1984, Goel started Gateway in Boston. At that time, there was no network like The Indus Entrepreneurs, or even a mentor, recalls Goel. “There was practically nobody I could speak to, and I had to pretty much figure out everything by myself,” he says.

Gateway Design Automation is credited with delivering the industry standard Verilog-XL. In 1989, Goel sold Gateway to Cadence and continued at Cadence for two more years.

He left Cadence to become a private venture capitalist. In 1996 he sold one of his companies, Frontline Design Automation, to Avant Corporation for a second major sale. He has also started Duet Technology, now renamed Policy One, and is a private investor in about 30 companies.

Bala Murali Krishna

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