This guy from Bengaluru has hit the fastest $100 million revenue in 4 years in Silicon Valley

The other Murthy! Arun's Hortonworks hit $100 million revenue in 4 years, fastest in Silicon Valley
Image Credit: ET Bureau

Meet the other Murthy from Jayanagar in Bengaluru - Arun Murthy. No relation of NR Narayana Murthy, also a Jayanagar resident. But the 35-year-old's life, in some ways, is moving along the same extraordinary lines of the Infosys doyen.



Arun Murthy is one of the founders of one of today's hottest Silicon Valley startups - Hortonworks. Yes, named after the elephant in Dr Seuss' `Horton hears a who!' The company, founded in 2011, has become the fastest ever software venture to touch $100 million in revenue - in just 4 years. Salesforce did it in 5, Palo Alto Networks and Workday in 6, Informatica in 7 and Splunk in 8, according to Barclays Research.

In 2014, when it went for an IPO, it touched a billion dollars in valuation. The valuation has dropped since then, but recent revenue numbers are once again pushing the share price sharply up.

Murthy's one of the tech brains behind Hortonworks. He started coding when he was just 10. From an early age he was fascinated by Go - the 2,500-year-old game that's exponentially more complex than chess; in March, a computer system, built by Google, for the first time beat a Go grandmaster. Murthy would play this abstract strategy board game for hours on end.

He also had an entrepreneurial streak in him. When he was still in school, he happened to read an article on Michael Dellin Readers' Digest. He was inspired by that to assemble and sell computers. "I would go to Avenue Road (the Bengaluru hub for electronic items) and buy computer parts, assemble them and sell them to friends. By the time I was 16-17, I was making more money than my parents combined. I would also develop websites for doctors and lawyers," Murthy told TOI on a visit last week to Bengaluru, where his mother still resides.

Murthy went on to do engineering at RV College of Engineering, one of Bengaluru's best private engineering colleges, and, on graduation, joined Yahoo's R&D centre in the city. He was part of the small team at Yahoo that was then beginning to develop Hadoop, the open source software framework used to store and process vast quantities of data and which has become all the rage in enterprises today given the avalanche of data they have to deal with.

While working on Hadoop, Murthy and his colleague Owen O'Malley took on the Sort Benchmark challenge of sorting 100 terabytes (TB) of data in a particular order. The first attempt set a new record and when someone else beat that record, they did it again in 2009 and that record stood for several years. The Sort Benchmark home page records Murthy and Owen's accomplishment at 0.578 TB per minute. "It's the most amount of fun I have had in my career," said Murthy.

In 2011, Murthy and seven others, most of them from Yahoo's Hadoop team - five of them Indians - came together to found Hortonworks, a venture to further develop Hadoop and support it for clients who adopt it. They thought of `Horton' because Hadoop bore the logo of an elephant. They convinced Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang that it may be the best way forward for them, and Yang was excited enough to get Yahoo to participate in the initial investment in Hortonworks.

Among the other Indian founders, Suresh Srinivas was also in Bengaluru and had studied at NIT Karnataka. Devaraj Das studied at BITS Pilani and IISc Bengaluru, Mahadev Konar graduated from IIT Bombay. Sanjay Radia, who grew up in Uganda and Canada, is the oldest among them, having held senior positions at Sun Microsystems before moving to Yahoo to be an architect of a Hadoop project.

In 2014, the year Hortonworks went for its IPO, Fortune Magazine ranked Murthy among its 20 Big Data All Stars - "20 extraordinary people who we think are the best at connecting the dots, digging deep, and discovering the information that will transform the way businesses operate."

Fortune noted that Murthy at Yahoo had helped develop a sort of operating system for Hadoop, called YARN, that lets users plug many applications into the system to store all sorts of data. "I have two kids at home. YARN is sort of my third," Murthy told the magazine.

Source: TOI / ET Bureau.

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