An Interview with Intel Guru Ajay Bhatt

Intel's Ajay BhattIntel is the dominant chip player in the world and controls 80 percent of the $40 billion market.  Intel chips have stood the test of time and rugged conditions and drive most of the pc’s and laptops in the world. Recently, Intel launched a multi-million dollar advertising blitz starring an Indian born Intel Fellow and one of the most respected executives in USA.

The Intel advertising campaign was developed in USA with the theme of ‘Our rock stars are different from your rock stars’.  The advertising campaign was extremely successful in USA and easily one of the most popular advertisements on Indian TV. The advertisement starred an Indian actor playing the role of real life Intel super techie Ajay Bhatt, who is credited with a number of lateral solutions including co-inventing the USB. The actor playing Ajay Bhatt had a cocky personality and a swagger in the advertisement.  In real life, Ajay Bhatt is shy, soft spoken and a consensus builder.

Techgoss interviewed the real life Ajay Bhatt.  Ajay is an Intel Fellow and Chief Mobile Architect of the super successful chip company.

Techgoss (TG):  Where all did you study/work in India?
Ajay Bhatt (AB):  I graduated with BEEE from Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, India. After getting my degree, I worked briefly at Digital Systems International and ORG Systems, both in Baroda, prior to leaving for US for further studies.

TG: How did you get the brilliant idea to co-invent USB which is used by hundreds of millions of people every day?  Was it at a work meeting? Over a cup of coffee?  Or brainstorming over the phone?
AB: I actually got the motivation at home. I used to regularly struggle with attaching peripherals (printer, modem…) to my home PC, which was running MSDOS. I felt that there has to be a better way to do this. If I am struggling with the PC so much, my wife or someone who is less technical than I am, has no chance of getting this right. I thought that we needed something which is as easy as plugging in a power plug in the wall; my vision was to create a new interface which would be as easy as plugging in an appliance to an AC plug; once plugged in the user would not have to do anything but just start using it. All the complexity of identifying and configuring the device should happen automatically without user intervention. I believe, we succeeded in achieving my original vision.

TG: What are your links with India now?  Do you have to visit India in an official capacity?  Or just come here to holiday?
AB: I work very closely with Intel, India. For last two years, I have worked closely with Intel India by primarily mentoring some of our top technical talent in India. In the past, I have also visited some of the leading Universities as a part of Intel sponsored “Distinguished lectures in technologies”. The topic of my lectures was “The Key Forces Shaping the Future of Desktop Computing”.

TG:  How do you see the future of Intel India?
AB: The future of Intel India is very bright. We have managed to hire some of the best talent from the leading universities in India. Because of this top talent, Intel is doing some breakthrough research and product development in India.

TG: Did many of your Indian family/friends ring/contact you after the Intel ad was broadcast in India saying how great it was?  Do any of your friends pull your leg now that you are a TV Star? What’s the general response?
AB: I have had numerous messages from friends and family as a result of this advertisement campaign. All in all, everyone is quite positive and proud of my achievements. Overnight, I have become a rock star from being a studious “nerd” for some of them.

“Nobody’s approached me in the cafeteria asking for my autograph,” chuckles Bhatt, 52, who said he has neither the time nor the disposition to be a pitchman. Intel asked Bhatt’s permission to feature him in the ads, and he gave it — and then didn’t give the ads much thought. Periodic updates arrived from the company’s marketing department, but he paid them little mind until the finished commercial arrived.

“They must have done a lot of research on me,” Bhatt said. “They’d been sending me stuff. I just see something come through my BlackBerry. I put it aside.” In the ad, mustachioed, elegantly coifed actor Sunil Narkar plays Bhatt, who is cleanshaven and has a spare hairstyle. And the commercial’s futuristic, glassy workplace looks nothing like Intel’s fabric cubicle farms in Washington County.

Nonetheless, Bhatt said he’s thrilled to see his research recognized — even with another man’s face.

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