Narendra (Naren) K. Gupta, renowned Indian-American Silicon Valley engineer and tech entrepreneur, passed away on December 25, 2021 from a sudden heart attack.
Adorned with white and purple flowers, the service to celebrate Naren Gupta's life began on Saturday, January 1 of the new year at 1:00 pm. People from all over the world came to pay their respects to his wife, Vinita, and daughters Anneka and Serena.
Ash Gupta, Naren's brother, was the first to speak and explain his humble origins. Naren was born in a small village 80 kilometers from Delhi in a one-room apartment. Although his brother describes a childhood with few resources, he said that Naren characterised his life in this way: "I was born into privilege. Our parents had the idea that the most important things didn't require any talent, education or resources. Instead, what mattered was that they required keeping your commitments and being on time, keeping going when everyone else was tired and had given up, and being curious. To always be available to help others." That's the person Naren eventually became.
Naren Gupta's curious personality got him walking at 9 months old. And, when he and his brother Ash went on a nine-day safari with polar bears, Naren repeated something he used to say: that to get ahead in life, you can't be afraid of failure.
"Naren was my rock. He always pushed me. If I can be half as good as Naren was, I would be thankful to God. He was my north star," declared Ash Gupta.
Family, friends and well-known personalities from Silicon Valley, business and academia made an appearance at the Gupta's private residence in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of his dearest friends, Ashok Vaish, spoke from the heart:
"Naren was incredibly smart, except for politics. We argued a lot about politics. Once we argued until he closed a restaurant and we were politely asked to leave."
Vaish described Gupta as "deeply curious, full of wonder, with boundless energy and joy. The default answer for Naren Gupta was always yes."
Obsessed with photography equipment, bridge and crossword puzzles, Gupta showed passion in everything he did in life, including cultivating his relationships.
"Although this is a celebration of Naren's life and all that he meant to us, I have to say that today we miss him, our hearts are broken, there is a great emptiness. But when I think about it and start to feel joyless and unhappy I can hear Naren telling me "In life, challenges and losses and suffering are inevitable, but unhappiness is optional. So snap out of it.
Naren Gupta's daughters, Serena and Anneka, expressed their gratitude. Both grateful for having a loving father, for their conversations about what to do and what not to do. Grateful for being pushed in life to be better.
Anneka recognized that the hardest thing about her untimely death was that she would never meet her grandchild. However, she understood that the reason Naren wanted Anneka to have children was so that she could experience the intense joy that she and her sister Serena brought to his life.
"When I think about my future, I want to live with the same enthusiasm he had for life. For him, every moment was a gift, a chance to plan another great trip, to learn about a new venture or meet an interesting new person. He often said, "I don't regret anything in my life." I like to imagine you now in a bird's soul flying to all the places you wanted to see in the world. Watching us, laughing with us, celebrating every accomplishment big and small. You will continue to inspire me. To reach higher, think bigger and love more fiercely," Anneka Gupta read at the end of her speech.
Rajeev Goel, CEO of PubMatic, said he would always remember Gupta for his smile. The way Gupta would multitask in meetings, jumping to conclusions faster than anyone else in the room. And he recalls that whenever he had questions, Gupta would say, "You'll figure it out," and he was right.
His partner Jishnu Bhattacharjee, Managing Director of Nexus Venture Partners, called Gupta a gentle genius who changed the world for the better. Gupta was the quintessential champion of entrepreneurs, who was never afraid to fail. He describes his partner as punctual, courteous and always available, generous with his time. Despite his accomplishments, he always treated everyone with the utmost respect.
"We have lost a visionary, mentor and great friend," Bhattacharjee said.
Professor Emeritus Tom Kailath, co-founder of Integrated Systems and Naren's mentor, said all he needed to talk about Gupta, as he did many years ago when he received an Asia Society award, were two words: consistently brilliant. "A characteristic he demonstrated over the years. He had a great passion for his friends, and he had a lot of love for the people who were close to him."
Kailath read a few lines from Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem To a Lark as a final reflection, referring to the way Naren Gupta enjoyed and enjoyed herself, with a zest for life:
"In the golden lightning
From the sunken sun
Above the clouds that shine,
You float and run;
Like a disembodied joy whose career has just begun."
Finally, Vinita Gupta, Naren's wife, spoke of being at ease today. For her, Naren worked hard and played hard, and left the world at the peak of his career.
Married for 47 years, he described their marriage as a fierce battleground between two tigers. "His imperfections made him perfect for me. We always pushed each other to become better versions of ourselves, I only wish we had done it with more grace." Naren Gupta was unstoppable, he always kept moving.
Friends and family agree that Gupta was an inspiring leader, adventurous with a brilliant mind and passionate about life. He will forever be remembered as the "Bill Gates of dishwashers" in Silicon Valley entrepreneurship and one of India's oldest venture capitalists who pioneered the path of startup investments. Naren Gupta, a generous and gentle giant, will be missed.