There are lots of hoaxes floating around on the internet about Indians in Silicon Valley (contrary to what WhatsApp forwards might say, 40% of NASA engineers aren’t Indian), but this is some pretty legitimate praise.
Investor Warren Buffett says that Bill Gates once told him that if he had to only hire people from one university for Microsoft, he’d hire from the IITs. Buffett himself is bullish on India, saying the country had a “terrific future” thanks to its brain power. He said he was open to investing in India and would love to hire people and buy a business in the country.
But Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, gushing about the IITs to the world’s third richest man, Buffett, isn’t unusual — Gates has lavished praise on IITs previously as well. “IIT and Microsoft do have a lot in common, an optimism about the future, a belief that fundamental science will lead to breakthroughs that will let us solve some of the toughest problems that mankind faces, a belief that we can provide better tools than ever before and that we’ve really just scratched the surface,” he said during the 50th anniversary celebration of the IITs. “And it’s hard to think of anything like IIT anywhere in the world. It is a very unique institution.”
In the late 70s, IIT engineers had begun moving to the US in droves when Microsoft was just starting off its operations. Many had ended up joining the company, lured by its reputation of innovation and opportunities it offered. By the 90s, IIT graduates had made a name for themselves in Silicon Valley for their smarts and work ethic – comic strip Dilbert even introduced a character, Asok, who’d studied at IIT and was trained to only sleep on national holidays. By the 2000s, Microsoft employed several IIT graduates at high positions.
And while IITians have contributed to Microsoft’s growth and success, it is not the only Indian institution to have provided the company with talent. Its current CEO, Satya Nadella, didn’t go to IIT — he’s a graduate of Manipal Institute of Technology.