Ambani siblings debut on Fortune's '40 Under 40' influencer list

10:42 AM Sep 03, 2020 | PTI |

Mumbai: Reliance Jio Board Directors Isha Ambani and Akash Ambani, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla and Byju Raveendran, co-founder of India’s leading education technology company Byju’s, are among the “emerging leaders” from across the world named by Fortune in its annual list of influential people under the age of 40.


The 2020 Fortune 40 Under 40 list highlights 40 influential people each in five categories of finance, technology, healthcare, government and politics, and media and entertainment from around the world.

Featured in the list are 28-year old Ambani twins, children of Reliance Chairman billionaire Mukesh Ambani and Nita Ambani.

“They say data is the new oil— and when it comes to Reliance Industries, India’s largest company, that’s literally the case. The 47-year-old conglomerate amassed a fortune in petrochemicals before dominating India’s mobile connectivity market with Jio, a low-cost wireless carrier it debuted in 2016,” Fortune said.

It added that Akash joined the company in 2014 after receiving an economics degree from Brown University and Isha joined a year later, following stints at Yale, Stanford, and McKinsey.


“As Jio board members, they helped seal the company’s recent megadeal with Facebook—$5.7 billion for a 9.99% stake—plus major follow-on investments from marquee tech titans like Google, Qualcomm, and Intel. The flurry of investments lent the business an eye-popping $65 billion private valuation,” Fortune said.

The US publication added that the siblings, along with their younger brother Anant, 25 are “training…to take on their father’s empire.

“A major proving ground will be e-commerce. Recently, Akash and Isha helped launch Jio Mart, a venture that aims to challenge Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart for command of India’s massive and fast-growing online shopping market.”

The list names Raveendran, the 39-year old CEO of Byju’s, India’s “biggest education technology company.”

“Raveendran has shown the world that it really is possible to build a massively successful online education company,” Fortune said, adding that the company is helping “millions of students prep and study for the most important exams of their lives” while also teaching them about core topics like mathematics and science.

“Since its founding in 2011, the red-hot education startup has raised over USD 1 billion and is now worth more than USD 10 billion. Raveendran will need that cash as he aims to expand Byju’s into new countries like the United States and the United Kingdom,” Fortune said.

In August, Byju’s bought the education technology startup WhiteHat Jr. for USD 300 million.

On Poonawalla, Fortune said “few people on the planet are more in demand right now than Poonawalla,” the CEO of his family-owned company, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines.

It said the Serum Institute of India (SII) has long played a vital role in global public health and in a “normal” year, most of the 1.5 billion doses of vaccines the company produces go to immunise children in low- and middle-income countries through programs administered by organisations like Unicef and GAVI.

“This year, of course, has been far from normal. With the race to develop a vaccine for Covid-19 in full swing, SII, with its enormous manufacturing capacity, has been an obvious place for pharma companies to turn,” it said.

SII has inked deals with both AstraZeneca and Novavax, committing to manufacture one billion doses of each vaccine, priced at USD 3 a shot, for low-and middle-income countries. The pharma company has expanded its geographical reach in recent years by acquiring production facilities in Czechoslovakia and The Netherlands and is also working to develop a couple Covid-19 vaccines itself, Fortune said.

The list also includes SoftBank Group Senior vice president, investments Akshay Naheta (39), Head of digital assets and distributed ledger technology (DLT) at TD Ameritrade Sunayna Tuteja, Global vice president Xiaomi and managing director, Xiaomi India Manu Kumar Jain (39), Maverick Ventures Managing director Ambar Bhattacharyya (37), PharmEasy Cofounders Dhaval Shah and Dharmil Sheth (31) and ACLU Chief product and digital officer Deepa Subramaniam (39).

On Jain, Fortune said Jain knew nothing about smartphones when Chinese giant Xiaomi tapped him in 2014 to build its India operations from the ground up. Jain had founded fashion e-commerce player Jabong that was sold to Flipkart.

“In his quest for knowledge at the start of his new gig, the executive regularly carried between 30 to 40 smartphones in his bag, testing out features and checking out competitors,” Fortune said.

It added that under Jain, Xiaomi overtook Korean giant Samsung to become the smartphone leader in India in just three years, bolstered by a strategy to act more like an Indian company.


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