Silicon Valley Hinduism:
South Asian Innovation Drives American Progress

Sun Microsystems cofounder Vinod Khosla and Hotmail cofounder Sabeer Bhatia stand as pioneers among technology's barons. Their rise from immigrants to industry legends symbolizes the profound, though less visible, South Asian business encounter with America, as the United States' high-technology industry reaps tremendous rewards from the tenacity and technological-savviness of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent. A first wave of "highly educated [Indus] people" starts immigrating to America in the mid-1960s "for higher studies," and most immigrants of this influx stay to work. When the immigrants find themselves unable to climb the corporate ladder in the 1970s, some leave to form their own companies, as does former Advanced Microsystems president Saiyed Atiq Raza. Others construct professional organizations based upon ethnic ties to mentor new arrivals to the Valley and to financially support members' ventures. Indo-Americans now rank among Silicon Valley's most influential technology developers and entrepreneurs.

Immigrants bring culture in addition to engineering skills. Silicon Valley firms now cater to the employees' palates, as company cafeterias now stock Indian dishes. Religious identity appears important to the group, as Johnathan Thaw finds that Hindus make up 83 % of Silicon Valley's Indians. President Clinton even issues a proclamation in 2000 to acknowledge Diwali, "the ancient Festival of Lights," upon the suggestion of one Silicon Valley Indian supporter.

Statistics greatly reveal South Asians' influence on Silicon Valley. Though RN 313 attempts to characterize Hinduism's place in America, one can find very little data on Hinduism's influence specifically. Instead, one must rely upon Thaw's discovery that most Indo-Americans identify themselves as Hindu in order to ascertain the prominence of Hindus among Silicon Valley's South Asians.

Indians' Professional Presence

Startup Fever

Looking Back while Looking Ahead:
Transnationalism Characterizes Migrants

Indian Immigration Patterns

Studies on Asian Immigrants in America

Influential Indian Digerati

Amar Bose

Vijay Vashee

S. Atiq Raza

Vinod Khosla
pictures courtesy of Silicon India and Kleiner, Perkins,Caufield & Byers

Related Links

 Please email questions or comments on this page to Raj Ashar.