I found out something surprising a few days ago: I was in the same hostel (Godavari) at IIT Madras as Rajesh Jha and Suri Raman, who lead Microsoft Office Live and Srikanth Shoroff, a senior manager at Office Live. Jha is the Corporate VP in charge of Office Live, while Raman is a Microsoft Technical Fellow, an exalted super-guru status at Microsoft. All of them were one year ahead of me at IIT, and we shared the same hostel for 3 years. I remember playing tennis ball cricket with them, which I consider to be much more fun than the infernal “real” cricket ball. Those used to be pretty hard-fought affairs, and alas, I also recall losing more often to them than winning, a circumstance I would conveniently blame on my less talented teammates. Jha and Raman graduated in 1988, and Raman joined Microsoft right out of IIT – interestingly the first time Microsoft recruited directly in India. Jha and Srikanth went to grad school and joined Microsoft two years later. From what I gather, 10 out of 30 of that 1988 graduating Computer Science class is in Microsoft now.
Another member of their class is Venky Harinarayan, who co-founded Junglee (acquired by Amazon) and now the founder of Kosmix, an innovative search engine start-up in silicon valley. I remember Venky was often the reason their team would win the cricket matches. Thanks, Venky, for connecting me with Jha, Raman and Srikanth.
I myself was in the Electrical Engineering class graduating in 1989, and I never thought I had any interest or passion for software. In IIT, I avoided computers after the initial obligatory Intro to Computing (Fortran!), taught in 1985 when I entered. I pretty much didn’t think of software at all until 1995. Even then it was not love-at-first-sight for software and me. It must be the Fortran …
Anyhow, it was great to reconnect with these folks. I don’t remember much of what I studied in IIT (that’s a lie, I don’t remember anything), but I remember the people, I remember the cricket, and I also remember some other things which won’t fit in a family-friendly blog (psst, my father reads my posts) so I will leave them out! And here is a piece of advice to those still in college: really get to know your fellow students, you never know who you will find as competitors 19 years later in life Make damn sure to enjoy all that time you are wasting – one of my favorite quotes is “If you enjoyed the time you wasted, you didn’t waste it after all.” And whatever you do, seriously avoid Fortran – I mean seriously.