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June 14, 2001
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Indian-American IT stars on Fortune's cool list

Ela Dutt
India Abroad Correspondent in New York

Two Indian-American founded companies have made it to the Fortune magazine's 25 Cool companies in the US and around the world for year 2001.

North Carolina-based Relativity Technologies and California-based XDegrees are on the list. Relativity provides software to update old codes for use in new systems and XDegrees has developed software to help people across a corporate network find the digital data they need.

Several Indian-Americans are on the management teams of other companies in the list.

Describing the start-up environment today as teetering "somewhere between post-apocalyptic shock and hopeful desperation," the magazine said it was a particularly poignant time to search for "cool."

But "beneath the devastation, cool lives," it contended, searching out companies that might, if successful, change the face of the Internet.

This is the eighth annual list brought out by Fortune and the magazine said it "polled the smartest people and combed through hundreds of start-ups," to come up with the list.

Based in Cary, North Carolina, Relativity was founded by Vivek Wadhwa in 1996 and has become a leading supplier of legacy modernisation solutions.

Wadhwa pioneered the concept of re-using mission-critical business processes with newer technology and has been recognised by, among others, Forbes magazine as a "leader of tomorrow."

He serves as an advisor to several start-ups and is president of the Carolina chapter of The IndUS Entrepreneurs, a non-profit global network intended to foster entrepreneurship in the South Asian community. He holds a BA in computing studies from Canberra University in Australia and an MBA from New York University.

Xdegrees, based in Mountain View, California was co-founded by Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman, both of fame, along with Michael Tanne.

Xdegrees has developed software that assigns URLs to document files, video clips and other files, allowing IT managers to better administer and leverage network resources.

Xdegrees promises to enable companies to scale their operations more efficiently and cost-effectively by distributing applications and information across servers, clients and devices throughout the network.

Rajaraman is currently a founding partner at Cambrian Ventures. From 1998 until recently, he was director of technology at, where he was responsible for technology strategy and advanced technology initiatives.

Prior to joining Amazon, he co-founded Junglee Corp in 1996 and as its chief technical officer played a key role in developing until its acquisition for over $250 million by in 1998.

He has extensive research and development experience at Stanford University, AT&T Bell Labs and Xerox PARC, with numerous publications, patents, and awards at leading academic and industry forums. He serves as an investor, advisor, and board member to several Silicon Valley start-ups.

He obtained his bachelor's degree in computer science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, where he won the President of India Gold Medal for graduating at the top of his class, and his MS and Ph D in computer science from Stanford University.

Harinarayan is currently a founding partner at Cambrian Ventures. Prior to that, he was a general manager at where he helped create Amazon's portal business.

He also co-founded and was responsible for shaping the website's marketing and business strategy.


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