Sridhar Vembu
Born1968 (age 55–56)
Alma materPrinceton University (PhD)
OccupationCEO of Zoho Corporation[1]
SpousePramila Srinivasan
RelativesRadha Vembu (sister)

Sridhar Vembu (born 1968) is an Indian billionaire business magnate and the founder and CEO of Zoho Corporation.[2] According to Forbes, he is the 55th richest person in India with a net worth of $3.75 billion, as of 2021.[3] He was awarded India's fourth highest civilian award, the Padma Shri, in 2021.[4][5]

Early life

Vembu was born in 1968 in a middle class Tamil Brahmin family, in a village in Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu.[6][7][citation needed] He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in 1989, and earned his MS and PhD degrees from Princeton University in New Jersey.[6]


Vembu launched his professional career working for Qualcomm as a wireless engineer in San Diego, California, before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. He has lived in San Jose and Pleasanton.[6]

In 1996, Vembu, along with two of his brothers, founded a software development house for network equipment providers called AdventNet.[6][8] The company was renamed Zoho Corporation in 2009, focusing on providing SaaS support to Customer relationship management services.[6][2] Vembu moved to Tenkasi, India in 2019.[9] As of 2020, he held an 88 per cent stake in the company. Forbes estimated his net worth at USD $2.44 billion.[2][10] In 2021, Sridhar Vembu was appointed to National Security Advisory Board.[11] Despite being a unicorn, Zoho has been completely bootstrapped by Vembu and his co-founder Tony Thomas to avoid external influence.[12]

Social entrepreneurship

Sridhar Vembu is noted[further explanation needed] for taking software and product development functions from urban centres into rural villages in India. Specifically, his company, Zoho, established its offices in rural Mathalamparai, Tenkasi district, Tamil Nadu and in suburban Renigunta, Andhra Pradesh.[6][13] He moved from the Bay Area to Mathalamparai at this time.[14]

In 2004, he set up Zoho Schools[clarification needed] to provide vocational software development education to rural students as an alternative to formal university education.[15] A statement from the company states that 15 to 20 per cent of its engineers have no college degree, but have received vocational education from Zoho Schools.[6] In 2020, he announced a "rural school startup" focused on free primary education.[14][8]

Political views

A former Zoho product marketing manager resigned in October 2018 after a dispute with Vembu over the employee's post on the company's intranet discussion forum.[16] The employee stated that Vembu was hostile to him for criticising the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist paramilitary organisation.[17][18]

In January 2020, Vembu met with criticism after he attended, as the guest of honour, a high-profile event organised by the RSS.[19][20][21] Vembu defended his participation as a matter of his personal choice.[22][23][24]


Vembu was awarded the 2019 Ernst & Young "Entrepreneur of the Year Award" in India.[25] He was also the recipient of the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour, in 2021.[26] He has also been selected as CNN-News18 Indian of the Year 2022.[27] He was also appointed to the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) of India in 2021 [28][29]


  1. ^ Waters, Cara (19 April 2019). "Barefoot billionaire: Sridhar Vembu built a tech giant you've never heard of". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  2. ^ a b c Waters, Cara (19 April 2019). "Barefoot Billionaire: Sridhar Vembu Built a Tech Giant You've Never Heard Of". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  3. ^ "Forbes India Rich List 2020 - Forbes India Magazine". Forbes India. Retrieved 28 December 2020.>
  4. ^ "PIB Press Release: This Year's Padma Awards announced". Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  5. ^ "Shinzo Abe, Tarun Gogoi, Ram Vilas Paswan among Padma Award winners: Complete list". The Times of India. 25 January 2021. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Cover Story: Sridhar Vembu's Vision From The Village". Forbes India. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  7. ^ Rajasimhan, T. E. "Made in India, Taking on the World". @businessline. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  8. ^ a b "This Silicon Valley Star Worth $2.5 Bn Is Moving Back To His TN Village To Teach Kids For Free". IndiaTimes. 10 October 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  9. ^ "54-yr-old who left Silicon Valley for TN village looks to nurture local talent". Hindustan Times. 20 February 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2023.
  10. ^ "Sridhar Vembu & Siblings". Forbes. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  11. ^ "Zoho's Sridhar Vembu appointed to Doval-led National Security Advisory Board". The Economic Times. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  12. ^ "Oleg Lights interviews billionaire bootstrapper Sridhar Vembu". Let's Bootstrap. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  13. ^ Anand, N. (15 August 2020). "Staff Preference is for Small, Rural Offices: Sridhar Vembu". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  14. ^ a b "Silicon Valley Star is Now Teacher in Tamil Nadu". The Indian Express. 10 October 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  15. ^ "For Zoho founder Sridhar Vembu, community and company go hand-in-hand". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  16. ^ Vaitheesvaran, Bharani. "My views, my events: Zoho Chief Vembu asserts after tweet rage over RSS event". The Economic Times. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  17. ^ Madhok, Diksha. "How to talk about Modi with your boss". Quartz. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  18. ^ Diksha Madhok, qz com. "Not safe for work: In polarised India, should you talk politics with your colleagues?". Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  19. ^ Lormen, Abigale (9 January 2020). "Accenture India MD backs out of attending RSS event in Chennai". Times of India. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  20. ^ Quint, The (7 January 2020). "#BoycottZoho Trends After CEO Accepts Invite to RSS Event". The Quint. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  21. ^ Chennai, PTI (8 January 2020). "Accenture boss clears RSS air". The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  22. ^ Bhalla, Kritti (7 January 2020). "Zoho CEO Defends Attending RSS Event Amid Twitter Outrage". Inc42. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  23. ^ Singh, Upneet (7 January 2020). "Zoho CEO defends proposed attendance at Indian right wing organisation event amid severe backlash". The Tech Portal. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  24. ^ Koshi, Luke (6 January 2020). "Zoho CEO slammed for being guest at RSS event, he retorts that he works as per conscience". The News Minute. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  25. ^ "Sridhar Vembu". Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  26. ^ "Zoho founder among Padma awardees". @businessline. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  27. ^ "CNN News18 Indian of The Year 2022: Zoho Co-Founders Sridhar Vembu and Tony Thomas Win "Start-ups" Award". News18. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
  28. ^ "Zoho's Sridhar Vembu Appointed To National Security Advisory Board". 3 February 2021.
  29. ^ "Zoho's Sridhar Vembu appointed to Doval-led National Security Advisory Board" – via The Economic Times.