Silicon Valley entrepreneur Umang Gupta lived – and died – on his own terms

Ritu Jha-

Very few people plan every step until their last breath. Umang P. Gupta may be one of them.

Gupta, who died at home in San Mateo on Tuesday, April 19, at the age of 72 surrounded by his family, took his own life, adhering to the standards set by the California End of Life Option Act. He was fighting a losing battle against bladder cancer.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Gupta was a well-known entrepreneur and a technology visionary based in Silicon Valley who was devoting his time exclusively to online education.

An IIT Kanpur alumni he was an investor, board member, advisor and mentor to young companies as well and was an inspiration to many. He is known not just for writing the first business plan for Oracle Corporation when the company had only 17 employees but was a pioneer in taking his company, Gupta Technologies, public.

Abhay Bhushan, an IIT alumnus, told indica, “We are all mourning his death. Umang was very, very generous and supportive of many IIT alumni, and was a company adviser for many.

Bhushan described Gupta’s work as the former chairman of the PanIIT USA, organizing and getting things moving.

“He was a very good speaker – an articulate and wonderful soul. We all miss him. We used to have Zoom meetings during COVID times. He was very optimistic about his recovery [but he must have been in] too much pain,” Bhushan said, explaining why he thought Gupta took his own life. “He was in pain. Why put everybody else in pain? [It was perhaps better to] go with less pain and say goodbye to everybody.”

Bhushan said, “He made a pragmatic decision. Lot of people opt for palliative care and eat painkillers but he planned it and his family was around him.”

Gupta had asked that funds be donated to conduct more research on bladder cancer at the University of California, San Francisco said Bhusan who is the founding past president of Pan IIT USA and past president of IIT Kanpur Alumni Association and the IIT Kanpur Foundation.

Los Angeles-based Gunjan Bagla, another IIT Kanpur alumnus and very close friend and mentee of Gupta who met the latter recently, described him as very calm.

“He knew the end was near and he felt like he had accomplished [enough],” Bagla said “In the last seven years, he was focused on software for the children called Reading Racer. He was helping his grandchildren … and was very proud he was not doing it for money. He wanted the world to benefit.”

Gupta began his career in 1973 with IBM. In 1981, he joined Oracle Corporation where he served as vice president and general manager of the Microcomputer Products Division through 1984. He left Oracle to set up Gupta Corporation, which he took public in 1993 (NASDAQ: GPTA). The company ushered in the era of enterprise client/server computing by introducing many innovations, including the world’s first client/server relational database system for PC networks.

From 1997 until his retirement in August 2013, Gupta was chairman and CEO of Keynote Systems (NASDAQ: KEYN), a global leader in test and measurement solutions that improve mobile communications and online e-commerce.
He has previously served on the boards of PARCA, a Bay Area-based organization devoted to the needs of the developmentally disabled, and of the Peninsula Community Foundation. An avid history buff, he
served as board chairman of the San Mateo County Historical Association.

In 2000, Gupta won the Asian Pacific Foundation Award for Civic Leadership and Philanthropy. He served previously as chairman of PanIIT USA, and, when he died, was serving as board chairman of PanIIT Global, an umbrella organization for more than 200,000 IIT alumni across the world, and was on the advisory board of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific Center.

Vish Mishra, an IIT BHU alumnus told indica, “I am deeply saddened by the passing of Umang as such a young age of 73.”

He was a great man and an allrounder. Besides being a very successful executive, entrepreneur and CEO, he truly was a great human being and a great leader. He was an excellent communicator, perhaps due to his early interests and training at IIT Kanpur as student body head, an actor and director of entertainment programs at the campus.

He was a great philanthropist who spearheaded IIT Kanpur Foundation with his initial donation in 2000. He also was a donor at The Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

“I got to know him soon after he left Oracle to launch Gupta Technologies to compete with Oracle,” Mishra said. “Over a 9 -year span, Gupta Technologies went public in 1993, then the first software company founded and ran by an India-American to achieve this feat.”

Recalling meetings with Gupta said, “I would see him more often at the PAN IIT USA and Global where he served as chair for 16 years. Worked very closely with him when I was on the organizing committee of PAN IIT Convention in 2016 where he was the chair.”

“His leadership lasted till he took his last breath as he chose to lead his demise under California law. May his great soul rest in eternal peace,” Mishra told indica.

Kanwal Singh Rekhi, IIT Bombay alumnus sharing his thoughts told indica, he first met Gupta in the mid-eighties. “He was a friend of my cofounder at Wxcelan. I invested $10 million in Gupta Technology on behalf of Novell and joined his board. I was a board member for about three years. He was super competitive, even at a personal level. We never got very close!”
Asked did he help establish TiE Silicon Valley as well as you said that Umang was not active in TiE at all but was super active in the Pan-IIT movement. And like many successful Indian Americans, he helped put both IITs and India on the world technology map.