Vinod Gupta is the former chief executive officer (CEO) and chairman of infoGROUP (previously known as infoUSA). Gupta served as CEO of the company from the time of its incorporation in 1972 until September 1997 and from August 1998 to August 2008. Borrowing $100 from a bank to get started, it has grown from a one-man operation to a global employer of over 5,000 with revenues of $750 million. During this period he acquired over 45 companies. InfoGroup was sold in July 2010 for $680 million.
In 2010, Gupta created DatabaseUSA.com. In 2012, Gupta developed LocateAMERICA.com. He was recognized in Bill Clinton's book Giving, which described the company as one that "has made a concerted effort to hire people who were on welfare, as well as people who are disabled or who have to support themselves after getting out of unsafe domestic situations."
He was appointed by President Clinton to serve as a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Gupta was also nominated and confirmed to be the United States consul general to Bermuda as well as nominated by the President to be the United States ambassador to Fiji
Gupta was born in the small town of Rampur Maniharan, located 100 miles (160 km) north of New Delhi, a small town (village) near Saharanpur (Uttar Pradesh). After graduating high school, Gupta applied to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and was admitted into the IIT Kharagpur campus, majoring in agricultural engineering.
In 1964, he was commissioned in Indian Air Force as Flying Officer in Engineering Unit and resigned in 1967 with a rank of Squadron Leader in 14 Squadron.
In 1967, Gupta moved to the United States to get his masters degree. He graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with an MS in agricultural engineering in 1969 and an MBA in 1971. He was awarded honorary doctorate by Monterey Institute, University of Nebraska, and IIT Kharagpur. He also delivered the commencement address at IIT Kharagpur in 2006. Vinod Gupta also attended an event organised by Entrepreneurship Cell at IIT Kharagpur in 2014.
In his first job after college Gupta was hired as a marketing research analyst with Commodore Corporation, a manufacturer of mobile homes. While at Commodore, Vin was assigned the task of gathering a list of every single mobile home dealer in the United States. He found all the sources available to be outdated and incomplete. He then ordered all available 4,800 Yellow Page phone directories and set out to compile the list himself.
With the help of another employee, Gupta sorted the books state by state. Commodore said they could work on the project on their own time and once completed, the company would consider buying the list. After the list was completed, Gupta gave them two options: pay $9,000 for exclusive rights to it or receive it free of charge and allow Gupta and his partner to sell it to Commodore's competitors. Balking at the $9,000 cost, Commodore chose the latter option.
Borrowing $100 from a local Nebraska bank, Gupta invested the money in mailers he sent out to other mobile home manufacturers. Within three weeks he had received checks for $22,000 and orders for another $13,000. Gupta had found his niche, now he just had to come up with a more efficient way to collect the data. By 1992, the company had revenue of $42 million and became publicly traded on NASDAQ. Since then, Gupta acquired over 45 companies and built it into an information power house.
Gupta has decided to give all his wealth to charity. He believed in 'Learn, Earn and Return' Gupta recognizes the value of education and how it has changed his life. As a result, he has made education a primary beneficiary for his charitable contributions. "Through his charitable foundation, Gupta has helped advance education across fields including: business, science, information technology, communications, intellectual property law and wildlife preservation." Most recently he donated $1 million for a women’s polytechnic in his native town of Rampur Maniharan, a small town near Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh state. The Polytechnic was inaugurated by the former US President Bill Clinton.
In addition he gave his alma mater, Indian Institute of Technology, $2 million to create the Vinod Gupta School of Management. The institute now offers an MBA program to engineering graduates with 0 to 5 years of work experience. After Gupta’s contributions, the IIT received $2 million from other IIT alumni. He has also donated money for a new science block at his former village school and provided buses for the girls’ school. Moreover, the most recent of his contributions includes the setting up of a law school under the IIT umbrella with excellent infrastructure named under Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law which is creating waves across India with its unique program.
In America, Gupta has donated $2 million to establish a curriculum for small business management at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He has also donated an additional $500,000 to the university to set up a scholarship fund for minority students who want to enter its science or engineering schools.
Securities and Exchange Commission charges
In 2010, Gupta was charged along with two other employees of Infogroup for "their roles in a scheme in which the CEO funneled illegal compensation to himself in the form of perks worth millions of dollars." The SEC said he used $9.5 million in corporate funds for personal gain and his "lavish lifestyle". The three later settled with the SEC without admitting wrongdoing. He paid $7.4 million in fines and penalties and agreed to be barred from serving as an officer or director of a public company, according to the SEC.
Relationship with the Clintons
After Bill Clinton left the White House in January 2001, Gupta hired him as a consultant, a relationship that has continued. "Gupta has a long history of giving and raising campaign money for the Clintons, and gave $1 million for the 2000 Millennium Celebration, a New Year's Party thrown by the Clintons. When he was president, Bill Clinton named Gupta to the Kennedy Center board of directors. Gupta also got to stay in the Lincoln bedroom with his wife . He gave another million to the Clinton Presidential Library."
In June 2007, Gupta praised Clinton's work for the company. "He helps us meet some of the right people," he told the Omaha World-Herald. "In many speeches, he has mentioned InfoUSA by name." Gupta said...It takes money to make money. By spending money, Gupta networked into the power elites of Washington, New York and Bay Area. He brought hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue through his contacts at Google, Microsoft, AOL, Cisco, Democratic Party, eBay, HP and hundreds of other corporations. He has one of the biggest rolodex in the business"
In February 2014, Infogroup sued Gupta for improperly recruiting its employees and accessing its computer secrets.
- infoUSA To Become infoGROUP Effective June 1, 2008
- Vinod Gupta Charitable Foundation
- Basu, Somdatta (25 January 2008). "Alumnus donates $1 mn to IIT". The Times of India.
- "Intellectual property law school at Kharagpur". Rediff. 4 March 2006.
- "SEC Charges Former Executives in Illegal Scheme to Enrich CEO With Perks" (Press release). U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 15 March 2010. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- "Title unknown".[dead link]
- Overby, Peter (13 February 2008). "Clintons' InfoUSA Ties Scrutinized". National Public Radio.
- Business Ties Face Scrutiny
- "US based Infogroup sues its Founder and Ex-CEO Vinod Gupta". Bihar Prabha. Indo-Asian News Service (IANS). 20 February 2014. Retrieved 20 February 2014.