Success Story of Young Billionaire - Co-founder of Hotmail -Mr. Sabeer Bhatia
Sabeer Bhatia is one of the poster boys of Indian success story at Silicon Valley. He is better known as the man who co-founded Hotmail. He later sold it to Microsoft for $400 million and today Hotmail is the world's largest e-mail provider, with over 50 million registered users.
Sabeer Bhatia was born in 1969 at Chandigarh. He comes from a humble background. His father was an army officer and his mother worked with the Central Bank of India. Sabeer Bhatia had his earlier schooling at Bishop Cotton's School in Pune and later on at St Joseph's College in Bangalore. After passing out from school he joined the Birla Institute of Technology (BITS) at Pilani. At Pilani, he qualified to try for a transfer scholarship at Cal Tech, considered to be the world's most competitive scholarship. Sabeer Bhatia was the only applicant in the entire world in 1988 to get a passing score of 62.
In 1988 Sabeer Bhatia came to America and completed his B.Sc. with honours and earned a master's degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. In 1992, while working on his Ph.D., Sabeer dropped out and joined Apple Computers as a systems integrator. He worked for Apple Computer for a year. Then he worked for another startup, Firepower Systems Inc. In 1995, Sabir Bhatia co-founded Hotmail Corporation along with Jack Smith, a colleague at Apple Computers. They launched pioneering web-based e-mail service Hotmail. At the end of 1997, he sold Hotmail to Microsoft for $400 million. Sabeer Bhatia t worked for Microsoft for a year until March of 1999, and then in the middle of 1999 he founded Arzoo.com
How did the Indian-born then 27-year-old engineer pull it off? All with a coolly executed mix of brilliant idea, Zen-like negotiations, and sly approach to venture capitalists that would make Machiavelli green with envy.
I think you have some gut instincts and you have to go on those," says Bhatia. "And you have to give it a shot ... to an entrepreneur it's like a gamble, but you've got to take that chance." Bhatia crafted the strategy of pitching a decoy idea to venture capitalists in order to see which ones he could trust his true idea with. His real idea turned out to be Hotmail, which offered free e-mail accounts that could be accessed over the Web.
"I was introduced to a number of people who pretended to be venture capitalists, but were in fact, people who had little money or just wanted the idea," explains Bhatia. "I was skeptical and I was scared. I truly believed it was going to be very powerful."
The strategy was not only gutsy, it paid off handsomely. Hotmail added users at a record pace after its kickoff on July 4, 1996, which attracted a lengthy courtship from Bill Gates & Co. Bhatia's stubborn negotiations shocked the Microsoft officials and frightened his own partners, who worried the deal would blow up in his face.
It was the software giant that buckled, however, and it purchased Hotmail for a then mind-boggling $400 million. The humble engineer from Bangalore became an instant Internet player.
Bhatia's mild-mannered appearance may lie in the grounded roots of his upbringing in India. Yet, that doesn't fully explain his innate yen for navigating the business' oft-murky waters.
"You have to be able to look into your adversary's eyes and try to figure out how much does he want this, and can I play on his weaknesses? ... And that's exactly what I did."
Sabeer Bhatia has won several honors and awards. These include: "Entrepreneur of the Year," award by the venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (1997); and "TR100" award, presented by MIT to 100 young innovators who are expected to have the greatest impact on technology in the next few years. He was named by TIME as one of the "People to Watch" in International Business (2002)