Indian CEOs, new kings of Silicon Valley



Parag Agrawal, new boss of Twitter; Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft; Sundar Pichai at the head of Alphabet… In Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs born in India have been popular in recent years. From IBM to Adobe via WeWork, there are now a dozen of them holding the reins of the biggest Californian Tech companies. A dazzling success, even though Indian immigrants represent only 1% of the population in the United States and 6% of workers in Silicon Valley.

In the Bay of San Francisco, this boom of Indian bosses is nevertheless perceived as almost banal, a simple reflection of the diversity of its ecosystem. “It is a good reminder of the possibilities that America offers to immigrants”commented recently, on Twitter, the Irishman Patrick Collison, CEO of the Californian start-up Stripe, specializing in online payment.

“I’m not sure that such a concentration of bosses of the same foreign nationality at the head of the largest French or German technology companies would be so well accepted in Europe”, notes for his part Devesh Kapur, professor of South Asian studies at Johns-Hopkins University. For the academic, the fact that the success of Indians in Tech is “almost a non-issue in the United States” is linked to the “current nature of capitalism” American. “As long as you bring in money, your origins don’t matter”, he analyzes.

However, it has not always been so. “Victims of stereotypes, Indian immigrants have long been excluded from management positions: they were perceived as excellent engineers but not as leaderssays Indian entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa, a professor at the School of Engineering at Carnegie-Mellon University in Silicon Valley. In the 1980s, many of them had difficulty obtaining financing to set up their businesseshe says. In the end, it was by pooling their strengths and setting up solid networks that they gradually succeeded in breaking the glass ceiling”.

The Indians of Silicon Valley today combine an unparalleled number of assets: in addition to their perfect command of English and their cutting-edge technical skills, they also have the reputation of having a more flexible and humble style of governance than that of their Californian colleagues. “When you come from a country like India with its diversity of religions, languages ​​and cultures, it makes you more open and better able to handle differencesbelieves Vivek Wadhwa. At a time when tech leaders are stigmatized for their controversial practices and their arrogance in the face of criticism, it is a major cultural asset. »

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