Category Archives: people

The Richest Indian-American in the U.S. [Updated]

[NOTE: Updated to correct video links]

For the longest time, the recognition for richest Indian-American in the US belonged to Vinod Khosla, the billionaire co-founder of Sun Microsystems. Net worth = ~$1.5 billion.

Today, that recognition belongs to someone else. I would wager that he is someone most people have never heard of and no, he’s not a technology mogul, either.

Let’s talk about his product first. It’s pretty interesting.

When my team and I make the excruciatingly long journey to India for our regular business reviews, most people arrive late the night before or early the morning of the meetings. It’s crucially important that all of us are alert and mindfully present, especially on day one. So, some of these guys have taken to carrying a magic potion to make sure this happens. It’s called 5-Hour Energy.

The active ingredients in one of these bottles are (according to Wikipedia), in order of listing:

vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, sodium, taurine, glucuronolactone, malic acid, N-Acetyl L-tyrosine, L-phenylalanine, caffeine, and citicoline

The caffeine content alone is either 200 mg (regular) or 260 mg (extra strength).  The caffeine of the regular size is comparable to that of a Starbucks venti cup of coffee. Potent (but not as tasty).

I am here to tell you that it works like a charm.  And why not? One of those shots before the painful meetings in the midst of jet lag clears your brain, keeping you awake and alert for several hours.


To cut a long story short, the richest Indian-American in the US today is assumed to be Mr.Manoj Bhargava, the Chairman and CEO of the company behind this energy shot.  Like all “overnight success stories”, this one has been in the making for over ten years. Undoubtedly, it’s taken a lot of smarts and hard work, not to mention bumps on the road.

After a roller-coaster journey since founding the company in 2004, [one that including fighting many legal battles on two fronts – defending against those who filed suit because of alleged health dangers of the drink, and those that the company proactively filed suit against for competitive and intellectual property infringement issues], this company posts some amazing financials.  

I phrased that wrong. They don’t post anything because they are privately held.  However, all the information and analysis available says that their annual sales exceed $1 billion, their annual revenues are in the $600-700 million range and their profits are an incredible $300 million.  That’s a profit of 50%!

Manoj Bhargava’s net worth is assumed to be in the range of $1.5 to $5 billion and he has acknowledged that he is the richest Indian-American in the US at this time. [I either read that or saw an interview where he states this].

But, that’s really not what is most interesting about Mr. Bhargava.  

In 2013, he signed The Giving Pledge, which is a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. His statement when he did this is worth noting. I encourage you to read it below:

Manoj giving pledge


But even that is not what is most interesting about Mr. Bhargava.

What really started my exploration about this man was this 3-minute video that someone had forwarded to me (thank you!). It is a trailer for a documentary called Billions in Change. Watch this short trailer first.

If video doesn’t appear above, you can also click here to view the trailer.  You must!

Can you say RESPECT?

Now, after that wonderfully inspiring teaser, you can watch the entire documentary here; it was only released earlier this month:

If video doesn’t appear above, you can also click here to view the full documentary.

Do go to this website for more information:  Billions In Change.  

Here’s the premise it starts with:

billions in change website

Does that resonate with you? I sure hope it does!

Sure, it’s great to see who the richest Indian-American in the US happens to be, and the story of how he made it to the top in this land of opportunity.

But what is even better – in fact, it’s phenomenal – to see what this billionaire is doing with his wealth to actually, really change the world.



For those who want to know more about this relatively enigmatic billionaire and philanthropist, I recommend the following sources of information:

  1. AIF NY Gala 2015 – Speech by Honoree Manoj Bhargava, Philanthropist, Founder & CEO, 5-Hour Energy – a stirring and insightful acceptance speech by Mr. Bhargava

  2. The political kingmaker nobody knows – not the most rosy pictures, focusing more on his politics and his enigmatic nature – by the Center of Public Integrity; a highly, credible source for deep and investigative journalism.
  3. The Mystery Monk Making Billions With 5-Hour Energy, more dated (Feb 2012) but still interesting.

  4. A billionaire monk’s pledge to charity – a great interview with the philanthropist




Racism Is Alive and Well – Here and There

“Maybe it’s time to just scrap the word “racist.” Find something new. Like Racial Disorder Syndrome. And we could have different categories for sufferers of this syndrome: mild, medium, and acute.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah


It’s a beautiful midsummer day, heading into the weekend. I am driving from one hometown to another in the scenic, green hills and dales of the rural south.  The sun is shining bright, the day is simply perfect. 

And then out of the blue, an ugly sight comes into my line of vision. It’s a huge, old pickup truck (nothing wrong with pickup trucks…) but behind it displayed rather proudly, swaying in the wind is a huge Confederate flag.  Very, very ugly.

Ever since Charleston, I have seen these “proud” displays of the Confederate flags, usually on pickups, and one time displayed on the front of a vintage Corvette, rather like some exotic headgear. I am pretty sure all of the vehicle owners were Southern red necks because after all, they were all spotted in the South.

What pleasure do these guys get to shout out to the world around them – “Watch me! I’m a stupid, ignorant, hick” ?


Their lack of sensitivity and their blatant racism makes me so angry!

And then I got to thinking.  Why am I so outraged at this display of the Confederate flag?

After all, I come from a country that is full of racists.  I should be used to it. In India, racism exists in all forms. It is also much more blatant and overt, and even in the most liberal setting, it still exists.  

There is racism along lines of caste, religion, creed, class, region (let’s not forget the whole North-South thing), and yes, color. The list goes on and on. Nobody can deny it.

[You may want to read this: India is racist and happy about it  and India has Been Ranked As One Of The Most Racist Countries In The World, Here’s What Makes Us So ]

Here in my adopted country, I get so incensed when I see the mere display of a Confederate flag. 

Yet, to be perfectly honest, I don’t see myself getting as emotional or aggrieved in India where racism is more accepted and endemic in society and culture. How come?

Now, just thinking about this, it shames and saddens me greatly that I appear to implicitly be accepting of it there. But I truly don’t have any good answers as to why I do. Time for some deep introspection…


“Beneath the armor of skin/and/bone/and/mind
most of our colors are amazingly the same.”
― Aberjhani, Elemental: The Power of Illuminated Love





Photo Sources:

By Donald Lee Pardue (Flickr: Still Waving) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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