We pushed each other, danced and fought: Vinita Gupta on life with Naren

Ritu Jha-


It’s rare and, I suppose, not easy for a woman to read a eulogy on her husband’s death.

When Vinita Gupta took the podium on Jan 1 to speak about her husband, the late tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist Naren Gupta, she looked like a real tigress of Silicon Valley.

“Our marriage was a fierce battleground of two tigers,” Vinita said of her 47 years with Naren.

“Naren lived the way he wanted to. He works hard and lives with enthusiasm. We were married 47 years. We pushed each other to higher and higher standards. We started playing bridge together. Naren measures himself by the money he could make. He was a score keeper by habit. I noticed over the years that stopping at any destination was not his part. He used to do it and move on. I had seen that he had a problem buying earbuds on Amazon and used to spend days and weeks making such a decision. But he was quick in many major decisions related to entrepreneurship. His imperfection made him perfect in my life.

Naren Gupta was 73 when he died on Dec 25 in Charlotte, North Carolina, a day after they had had a family vacation in Florida.

The couple got married in 1974. Vinita said, “I remember on our honeymoon morning he was reading The Wall Street Journal. He loved to spend time with family and often played cards with the family.”

Vinita Gupta herself is a successful entrepreneur and the first woman of Indian origin in the US to take her company public and serves on several boards.

Delivering her eulogy, she shared both the hard and soft parts of her relationship with Naren.

She described how he generously wrote big checks on a moment’s decision for charities, or for next-generation entrepreneurs with an idea, “but indefinitely pestered me for spending 99 cents when I signed up for iCloud… [and then] when I decided to increase it to $2.99, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I did it.”

Vinita told indica, “We grew and evolved together, but not necessarily in the same direction. He took his path, I took my path. Overall, our marriage was very dynamic, where we would disagree a lot and make each other a better [person].

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going’ fully describes Naren for me,” she said. “He led a fearless life.”

She recalled that Naren had faced a major heart problem 23 years ago and was not expected to survive. He not only did, but launched himself into a new profession while also taking care of his health.

“He was a very strong-willed person, so he did not listen easily, but when he listened, he observed things,” she said.

When things would not work out despite his persistence, he would be disturbed, she said, citing the case of how the Nexus Venture Partners fund he established in 2006 took years to grow.

She described how Naren brought entrepreneurs over from India, sometimes hosting them for a couple of months while they learned the business culture, saw how entrepreneurs here were connected, and where they could find a market in the U.S.

While the money his company earned was important, she said, her husband was trying to evolve and did not back off when success did not come early. The first two funds took a long time to gain traction until even his few partners at the time got a little impatient.

“You take that responsibility not to get rich yourself, but to be a custodian for the customer who has trusted you with his money,” Vinita Gupta said, describing her husband’s philosophy and the trust he attracted. “That is what he focused on. He truly enjoyed helping entrepreneurs build themselves up, find the right market and the right strategy together. He put pressure on people and it was not easy to do what you want to do.”

Describing their relationship of 47 years, which began as an arranged marriage, she said with a smile, “We did a lot of things together. We traveled and pushed each other. We danced and fought together. That is what our relationship was about.

“I have great memories and I can see his personality very clearly – how he continued to change and evolve, even with respect to our partnership with each other.”

Asked what, if anything, she had learned from him, she paused, then said, “I could have learned more. Definitely, there were things he did far better than I did. He was more patient in the professional sense than I was. When things got really tough, personal or professional or financial, he could just think differently. That is something either he had, or cultivated. He was very good at that.”