Intern To CEO, Kolkata-Born Man Attributes Success To Steve Jobs. Here's Why

Praising Steve Jobs, Chet Kapoor said that the tech mogul created a very "product and design-centric" environment at NeXT.

Intern To CEO, Kolkata-Born Man Attributes Success To Steve Jobs. Here's Why

Chet Kapoor is the CEO of generative AI company DataStax.

Kolkata-born Chet Kapoor, now the CEO of generative AI company DataStax, recently shared his experience of working with Steve Jobs during his early career. His journey began with a teenage dream of working for the tech mogul, which became a reality when he was hired as an intern at NeXT, the software company Mr Jobs founded after leaving Apple. Now, speaking with CNBC Make It, Mr Kapoor attributed his success to working with Mr Jobs in the early days. 

"Steve was this iconic individual and I didn't know him ... I was the guy that got coffee for the guy that made coffee," Mr Kapoor told the outlet. "I was one step below the person that opened doors but that didn't matter because I worked 20 yards away from him [Jobs] every day," he added. 

Mr Kapoor said he credits a lot of his success to his experience working as Mr Jobs' intern. He explained that he would focus on the questions that the tech mogul would ask in all-hand meetings more than anything else because it gave an insight into his thought process. "That exposure was absolutely phenomenal," he said, adding, "I can attribute a large portion of my success to my first two or three years at NeXT." 

Further, reflecting on his journey, the 57-year-old recalled his mother taking him to the British Council library so he could read books while she went shopping. "In 1983, I read this book called 'A Little Kingdom' and it was written by a guy by the name of Michael Moritz. This book was about two Steves: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. It was all about Apple. I was impressionable because I was 15 or 16," he said. 

"I was like 'this is who I want to go and work for' and it was very clear to me that I wanted to come and hang out and work with Steve Jobs," he continued.

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Inspired by the book, Mr Kapoor said he took computer classes and started applying to colleges in the US. He eventually landed at Arizona State University in 1986. 

During this time, Steve Jobs left Apple and founded a new software company called NeXT in 1985. This is when the opportunity arose for Mr Kapoor to fulfil his dream. In 1988, Mr Kapoor joined Mr Jobs' firm as an intern, where he did various odd jobs. "I started working for NeXT five years after I imagined that I would be working for Steve," Mr Kapoor said.

Praising Steve Jobs, the 57-year-old said that the tech mogul created a very "product and design-centric" environment at NeXT. "Everything starts with what is the user experience. How is the user going to interact with this? That made all the difference in the world and the maniacal focus on that was absolutely amazing," he told the outlet. 

"Everything starts with a very strong engineering culture. He drove a very hard, regimented schedule because otherwise, you just leave it, and it becomes a science project. He was very driven in that regard," Mr Kapoor added. 

Notably, Mr Kapoor made his mark in Silicon Valley as CEO of cloud software company Apigee, which was acquired by Google in 2016. He has also held leadership positions at firms including Google and IBM.