Pranav Mistry (File photo: Bloomberg)
Pranav Mistry (File photo: Bloomberg)

Pranav Mistry joins the pantheon of Indians at helm of major tech companies

  • Gujarat-born Mistry has been appointed as the President and CEO of STAR Labs, an independent entity of Samsung Electronics
  • Apart from Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella, Mistry’s elevation to a key position within Samsung has put another Indian closer to the top of a major technology company

Gujarat-born Pranav Mistry, known for his work on Sixth Sense, a gesture-controlled wearable computer developed at MIT Labs, has been appointed as the President and CEO of STAR Labs (Samsung Technology & Advanced Research Labs), an independent entity of Samsung Electronics. The announcement was made by Mistry through a LinkedIn post published on October 26. Mistry, 38, has been working with Samsung in various roles when he joined it in 2012 and was the global vice president at Samsung Electronics since May 2017.

Mistry’s elevation to a key position within Samsung has put another Indian closer to the top of a major technology company. Google’s current CEO, Sundar Pichai, 47, was born in Tamil Nadu and joined Google in 2004. He led various products at Google including Chrome, Chrome OS, Maps, Gmail and later on Android, before his appointment as CEO in August 2015. Under Pichai, Google saw the launch of Pixel smartphones, Google Pay, Daydream Virtual reality handsets.

Google’s key rival in software and PC segment, Microsoft, also has an Indian CEO. Hyderabad-born Satya Nadella, who has been with Microsoft since 1992, was the executive vice president of cloud and enterprise group when he took over from Steve Balmer as CEO in February 2014. Under Nadella, 52, there has been a greater focus on cloud computing, emerging technologies like AI (artificial intelligence), and mobile software. The company also acquired LinkedIn and Github. Microsoft’s stocks prices have tripled and it became only the third company, after Apple and Amazon, with a market valuation of $ 1 trillion.

Shantanu Narayen, 56, CEO of Adobe— the software company known for editing and design tools like Photoshop and Premier Pro, also hails from Hyderabad. Included in Fortune Magazine’s top 20 business executives of the year for 2018, Narayen is credited for transforming Adobe by moving away from bundled services to cloud-based model driven by subscriptions. He was promoted from COO and President to the position of company CEO and was inducted in board of directors in 2007.

Mistry isn’t the only Indian who will be heading a Samsung-owned entity. Agra-born Dinesh Paliwal, 61, is the president and CEO of a leading audio technology company, Harman International Industries, which has several sub brands like JBL, Harman Kardon, Infinity and AKG. Samsung acquired Harman in November 2016 for $8 billion in order to offer an improved audio experience on its smartphones and TVs by leveraging Harman's audio technology. Under Paliwal’s leadership Harman and Samsung have built a connected car platform for auto companies.

Another technology company, Nokia, has an Indian calling the shots. Delhi-born Rajeev Suri, 52, was promoted to CEO of Nokia in 2014 from CEO of Nokia Solutions and Networks. Under Suri’s leadership, Nokia has expanded its software business, tied up with HMD Global to revive the Nokia smartphone brand and acquired Alcatel Lucent. Nokia’s market value has grown from $1 billion to $10 billion.

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