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Sreekanth & Sudhakar Ravi
Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sreekanth Ravi
Age 34

Place of Birth Hyderabad

Residence Los Altos Hills, CA

Family Single

Came to the U.S. 1972

Education BS EE, U. of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana

First job Product Manager at SuperMac Technology (1987)

Company started 1991

Year did an IPO 1999

Year became millionaire 1990

Favorite charity Habitat for Humanity & Haight Ashbury Free Clinics

Lifetime goals To positively affect the quality of life of my family and friends.

Net worth $337 million

Philosophy of life Use my good fortune to help those less fortunate.

Most inspired by My mom and dad.

Most excited by A quiet weekend at home.

Most expensive thing ever bought House.

Sudhakar Ravi

Age: 34

Place of Birth: Hyderabad, India

Residence: Atherton, CA

Family: Wife and 4 children

Came to the U.S. in 1971

Education: BS Comp Engr, U. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, MS CS Stanford.

First job: Semiconductor software engineer, Data General

Company started: 1991

Year did an IPO: 1999

Year became millionaire: 1996

Favorite charity: Charities targeting education and underserved

Lifetime goals: Maintain health and well-being for family and myself

Philosophy of life: Positively affect those around me

Most inspired by Parents

Most excited by Spending time with family and friends

Many, if not most, of the Indians who achieved Silicon Valley fame and fortune, came from India armed with engineering degrees, most notably from one of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology. To many, it has also seemed that these technologists attained fame and fortune quickly.

The story of two brothers, Sudhakar and Sreekanth Ravi, gives the lie to both perceptions.

The two left Hyderabad when barely eligible to enter school, grew up in the Midwest, went to school here and toiled for nine long years before finding the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Late last year, the Ravis took their company, SonicWall, public, and before the New Year was ushered in were worth half a billion dollars each, based on the company's stock price of about $47.

SonicWall started out by making a decidedly simple product: ethernet cards for Macintosh computers, which were still hot in the early '90s. Sudhakar experimented with a variety of other things, too, mostly by himself or with a small team of engineers.

He made software for virtually every type of Macintosh interface, including SCSI, LocalTalk, Nubus, PDS, PCI, CommSlot and PCI-CommSlot. Although playing inventor was a lot of fun for Sudhakar, it resulted in only moderate success.

The two brothers found their "eureka moment," when their office switched to a T1 Internet connection. When they did so, they also started scanning the market for security firewall products because their computers were now always connected to the Net and needed adequate protection. They found none that fit their budget. The cheapest cost $20,000 - way beyond the means of a small office such as theirs.

Why not, they thought, make an inexpensive firewall that small offices could afford? That is how the brothers came up with the winning product.

As a variety of high-speed and "always-on" Internet connections proliferated in the US market, the demand for SonicWall's firewall products rose exponentially. So much so that the Ravis, who were planning an initial public offering in the middle of 2000, started and completed the IPO six months ahead of time. A year before their IPO, SonicWall was valued at a mere $40 million by a venture capital that invested $5 million for a one-eighth stake. About a week after the IPO, Wall Street valued SonicWall at over a billion dollars.

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