Conversation on Alpha Girls (1 of 2)
On August 30, 2020, IBPW hosted the first of a two-part event: a conversation based on Julian Guthrie’s 2019 book Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took on Silicon Valley's Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime. This event was moderated by Raji Pillai and featured guest speaker Vinita Gupta, founder and chairman of Digital Link Corporation. Vinita is also the first woman of Indian origin to take her company public. In the discussion, Raji delved into Vinita’s early life and career, her aspirations and motivations, her low and high points, and much more. Below is a synopsis of the enlightening and entertaining conversation between them.
Born to a middle class family in India, Vinita is the middle child among three daughters. Her mother was a taskmaster who cautioned Vinita that if she did not work hard, she would end up a homemaker like herself. Those words stuck with Vinita, who believes that we rise to the expectations of our parents. Eastern values and Western ethics have shaped her career and life decisions.
Vinita attributes part of her success to luck and being in the right place at the right time. Her first job after her Master’s from UCLA, though well-paying, soon lost its luster. She wanted to try something new, and the tech landscape at the time provided an opening. AT&T had become a monopoly in providing end-to-end communication solutions and was broken up by the Federal Trade Commission. This huge shakeup created space in the market, and in 1985, Vinita started Digital Link Corporation. Her product enabled companies to buy large digital pipes from AT&T for data transport. In 1994, Digital Link Corporation (later renamed as Quick Eagle Networks) went public and Vinita made her mark in history.
Advice for the Audience
Vinita had many words of wisdom for the audience, based on her experiences as an entrepreneur, an immigrant, and a community leader. Some of the foundational beliefs that guided her time and again in difficult decision-making and building a lasting legacy were:
Since retiring about 15 years back, Vinita has started writing regularly and learned to play bridge - in fact, she has won several titles in competitive bridge! She keeps a pulse on technology and business developments in Silicon Valley, and expressed concern about the trend of companies killing competition and innovation through acquisition & monopolization.