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Vijay Vashee
Friday, November 21, 2008

Vijay Vashee is a father who enjoys snowboarding with his sons, playing golf and doing “stuff with my wife — for example, theater, golf, and stuff for the community.” He is also a man who has ridden the Microsoft train to success and fulfillment. He joined the technology giant in 1982 when it was still a $25 million company.
He is credited with running the first Windows seminar and for setting up the MS ISV program. He was also a major contributor to the 1.0 versions of Windows, Mouse, Works, Win, Excel and other products.

He was also involved in the successful marketing push for applications like Word, Excel, Works and Flight Stimulator to Mice.

As Microsoft continued to grow, so did Vashee. As the general manager of Project, he helped make it the number-one in market share, up from number-four in two and a half years. Under his supervision, he grew the $5 million business into a $100 million enterprise.

He was also the general manager of PowerPoint, where he was equally successful. He helped make it the number-one choice from its previous third-in-line status and grew the business from $100 million to $600 million. He also developed shared draw code for Word and Excel.

Born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, he received his schooling in that country until he passed the highly competitive joint entrance exams to study at the premier Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai. There he received a B. Tech in electrical engineering. He has also received a Masters in electrical engineering from Cornell University and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Despite these impressive credentials, he credits his success to a few simple and fundamental human principles: “Focus and a tremendous thirst to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Between his life as a family man and his day job as a corporate powerhouse, Vashee is an active investor in various startups. Some of these are versata.com, xpertsite.com and yodlee.com.

Vashee has a particular commitment to children. Apart from his involvement with youth in the Seattle area, he espouses sound parenting principles. He believes that children are given to people on borrowed time, so they should be enjoyed while they let you.

He gives back to the community, as a strong supporter for local programs directed toward children. He feels personally fulfilled by this commitment because he believes that “the more one gives, the more one receives. Do this without expectations.”

It seems fitting that the man who helped to change modern computing should place such stock in children and change. As he puts it simply, “Invest in youth, they enable change to happen faster.”

He also helped start a Seattle chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), an organization that has helped countless Indians to start businesses.

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