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Kanwal Rekhi: Fomer Novell C.T.O. Takes Helm At Ensim

Kanwal Rekhi was born to Sikh parents in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, in 1945, and moved with his family to Kanpur, India at the time of partition, in 1947. He is married to Ann Holt. They have two grown children. He moved to the U.S. in 1967 and now lives in Monte Sereno, California. He studied electrical engineering at I.I.T. (Mumbai, India) and Michigan Technical University. In the 1980s, Kanwal helped pioneer the commercialization of the TCP/IP protocol, on which the Internet is built. In 1987, he hit the jackpot with his start-up, Excelan (founded in 1982), when he took it public. As Novell's C.T.O., he led their acquisition of the Unix operating system from AT&T. He later went on to become worth about $500m. On leaving Novell, he formed The IndUS Entrepreneurs (T.i.E.), a venture fund and support organization for entrepreneurs of Indian descent. He has invested in more than 45 start-ups. Observers have nicknamed him the 'Godfather,' the man to see in the Valley's Indian community.

The Mercury News, Dec. 6, 2002

"Indian tech guru Kanwal Rekhi has whipped himself into shape, lost 70 pounds and is returning to the start-up world after an eight-year hiatus. Rekhi, 56, is referred to as 'Uncle' by the thousands of Indian techies based in Silicon Valley, a term of respect he earned after becoming the first Indian to take a company public on the New York Stock Exchange. For Rekhi, his slimming down from his 279-pound former self this past summer said something about the valley's direction. 'My getting in shape is symbolic of what needed to happen in the valley,' he said at his Ensim [a Web hosting automation software vendor] headquarters this week. 'The thought of being fat, dumb and happy was very unpalatable to me.' "
"He's also angry, he says, at the latest generation of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. The dot-com craze was caused by an invasion of young Stanford and Harvard M.B.A. graduates, he said, who entered companies, gained influence, and reinforced themselves in views about the obsolescence of profits. Before that, Rekhi viewed the valley as a 'wholesome' place. 'I thought someone desecrated our temple,' he said."
"His first task will be to change the company's culture, he says. When he arrived, the start-up was burning through $33,000 a day in expenses, or about $1 million a month, and making minimal revenue. He blames the deficit on managers who decided to let customers use the technology for free assuming they can charge later when the economy improves. 'You're training your customers to expect not to pay,' he says. 'If he's not paying now, he's not going to pay later.' Rekhi cites Prussian military officer Carl von Clausewitz about the need to wage war even in quiet times. In corporate life, that means preparing for battle before the economic recovery. 'Most wars are won or lost in the preparation phase,' Rekhi says."