All about Shantanu Narayen, Adobe CEO And why he is in Apple?s crosshairs.

Shantanu Narayen born and educated in Hyderabad, India is now a US citizen, heading Adobe and living in Palo Alto, CA. He is also on the Board of Dell, Inc., Metavante Technologies, Inc. and the Advisory Board of the HAAS School of Business, UC. He is also the President of the Board of Adobe Foundation, which funds philanthropic initiatives around the world. In 2009, Shantanu earned $6.6 million.

Shantanu grew up in Hyderabad, where he attended the famous Hyderabad Public School. Shantanu?s father was an industrialist, and his mother taught American Literature at Osmania University. After finishing high school, he was admitted to Osmania University in the same city, where he got a Bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering.

Coming to America

Just after he completed his undergrad, he moved to the United States to get a Masters in Computer Science at Bowling State University. After graduation, Shantanu and his wife moved to Silicon Valley where he landed a position at Apple. At Apple, he excelled as an engineer, and was granted five patents for authentication and transfer of data. He became interested in business at Apple, and decided to attend attend the evening MBA program at the Haas School of Business at the University of Berkeley. He graduated in 1993. At Apple he learned a lot of leadership skills under the guidance of his mentor Gursharan Sidhu. In an interview with New York Times he was qouted saying ?Well, the other thing at Apple was that you really believed you were going to change the world.”

After leaving Apple, Shantanu worked for a brief while at Silicon Graphics where he was the director of desktop and collaboration products at Silicon Graphics, Inc. This gave him an idea to do something in digital photo sharing, and he was interested in using his engineering skills to build a company, and founded Pictra, an early entrant into the field of online digital photo sharing. The company received decent buzz from the market, but it was not successful, so he left to join Adobe Systems in 1998. Shantanu joined Adobe as Vice President and General Manager of engineering technology group. Adobe makes many of today’s most popular software packages, including Flash, Acrobat, Photoshop, InDesign and Dreamweaver. In January 1999, he became Senior Vice President, World Wide products. In March 2001 he was promoted to Executive Vice President, Worldwide Product Marketing and development. Under his leadership, Adobe released Adobe Photoshop CS5 and CS5 extended, the best image manipulation software. In next four years he became the President and COO of Adobe. Finally, in December 2007 he became the CEO of Adobe. Shantanu rose rapidly at the company, and was appointed president and COO in January 2005.
On February 25, 2010 the International Imaging Industry Association (I3A) recognized Shantanu Narayen with its annual Leadership Award.

Adobe and India

Shantanu has been very supportive of all that Adobe is doing in India. The company has two two sites in India at Noida and Bangalore, and partners with TCS, Wipro and Satyam. One of Adobe’s business units, the Print and Classic Publishing Business Unit, headed by Naresh Gupta, MD of Adobe India, is run completely out of India. Even product and business strategy is run out of India. His one complaint is that while Adobe is a household name in India, due to piracy, revenues are minimal. Shantanu is also proud of the fact that Adobe is rated one of the best companies to work for in India, and has lower employee turnover than most companies there.

The Apple Controversy

His company has been recently in the news after Apple decided to ban Adobe from its iPhone. Apple?s Chief Executive Steve Jobs gave a rare open letter were he declared Flash being proprietary, sapping battery power, not supporting multi touch interfaces, posing security risks, and being unstable.In response to this Adobe launched an ad campaign which initially says ?We Love Apple? and then states a message “What we don’t love is anybody taking away your freedom to choose what you create, how you create it, and what you experience on the web.? Adobe also gave an open letter concluding that nobody and everybody owns the World Wide Web but it is certainly not owned by a single company. The conflict reflects in his choice of phones. Shantanu has a google nexus device. While he loves the iPad, he thinks much will happen in this space.

He has a great philosophy: “Focus on the task at hand and the fruits will take care of themselves?

References:
Knowledge@Wharton
Wall Street Journal

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  2. Rajat Gupta
  3. Apple
  4. Vinod Khosla
  5. Arun Sarin

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