Vinod Dham is popularly known as the Father of the Pentium chip, for his contribution to the development of Intel’s highly successful Pentium processors. He is a mentor, advisor and investor and sits on the boards of many companies, including promising start-ups funded through his India based fund – Indo US Venture Partners, of which he is the founding Managing Director. Vinod Dham was born in 1950. His father was a member of the army civilian department who had moved from Rawalpindi to India during the Partition. Dham earned a BE in Electrical Engineering from the Delhi College of Engineering in 1971 at the age of 21. After working for a few years in the nascent semiconductor industry in India, he left for the US to pursue his higher studies, at the age of 25, with just 8 dollars in his pocket. On completion of his further studies in Electrical Engineering and Solid State Electronics, he joined the NCR Corporation at Dayton, Ohio, where he did cutting edge work in developing advanced Non- Volatile Memories. He then joined Intel, where he led the development of the famous Pentium processor. Vinod Dham, father of Intel’s Pentium chip and the rival AMD K-6 chip that together dominate personal computing the world over, has worked in half a dozen high-profile companies, to attain the reputation of an all-rounder who has mastered not just the semiconductor but also sales, marketing and other aspects of business. His meteoric rise owes to the qualities of handling pressure, deadlines and unexpected situations with beatific calm, trademarks now attributed to most Indian tech high fliers.
In 2001, Dham made a trip to India. He was impressed enough by the success of India’s IT services industry based on off-shoring of US software development to India that he co-founded an incubator, New Path Ventures, in April 2002, with seed capital from other venture capitalists. It invested in Chip and System design companies like Telsima (WiMAX chips for broadband), Montalvo Systems (low-power chips), Silica (chips for multimedia and digital printing processors) and Nevis (secure networking). Dham, with his partner, was extremely hands-on in helping these companies in their day-to-day operations, yet his experience highlighted that with so much focus on software, India was yet to develop the critical mass of skills for chip design and speciality software expertise to support the ‘off-shoring’ model. Dham subsequently co-founded IndoUS Venture Partners in 2006. Currently, IUVP’s focus is on investing into Indian companies across sectors, including mobile technology, knowledge process outsourcing, Internet, education and healthcare. Over the past few years, IndoUS has invested in over two dozen companies. Dham also believes that the model of outsourcing that is fairly large scale in IT services and software can now be recreated in other value added knowledge sectors like finance, education, healthcare and legal.