Fortune Sept. 16 released its annual list of “40 under 40,” featuring three Indian American rising stars, and Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Lina Khan, who is Pakistani American.
“It’s been a monumental year of change in everything from the way we work and travel to how we buy groceries and invest our savings. (Bitcoin, anyone?),” wrote the magazine in its introduction to this year’s list.
“This year’s 40 under 40 list highlights the rising entrepreneurs, influencers, creators, and executives that have shaped the global pandemic experience—and are paving the way for what comes next,” it noted.
The Indian Americans on this year’s list are: Akila Raman, COO of Goldman Sachs; Raj Kannappan, vice president and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise at Young America’s Foundation; and Rohan Seth, co-founder of Clubhouse.
“Lina Khan makes tech behemoths with trillion-dollar market caps shake in their boots. At just 32, she is the youngest and arguably most progressive head of the Federal Trade Commission in the agency’s 106-year history, and she’s determined to make big changes,” wrote Fortune in its profile of the chairwoman, who was appointed by President Joe Biden, and took office in June.
During her Senate confirmation hearings, Khan managed to get the support of politicians on both sides of the aisle with her focus on curbing large social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Zoom and YouTube. She was confirmed on a 69-28 vote, with three senators absent.
“As the leader of an agency tasked with the enforcement of antitrust law and consumer protection, Khan is set to act as the de facto face of coordinated efforts by the White House and Congress to rein in Big Tech, paving the way to the first big changes in antitrust law since Ronald Reagan was president,” stated Fortune in its profile.
Khan was born in London to Pakistani parents and immigrated to the U.S. when she was 11. As a law school student at Yale University in 2017, when she wrote a groundbreaking 98-page article about Amazon’s anti-competitive behavior for The Yale Law Journal, which brought her to the limelight. “She soon became the golden child of the antitrust revolution, working alongside senators like Elizabeth Warren to bring tech CEOs to testify on their practices,” wrote Fortune.
“With chair Khan at the helm, we have a huge opportunity to make big, structural change by reviving antitrust enforcement and fighting monopolies that threaten our economy, our society, and our democracy,” said Warren.
On the opposite end of the political spectrum is Kannappan, who promotes conservative free-market principles among college students around the country. “With a presence on more than 2,000 college and high school campuses, and nearly $100 million in assets, the group has been quietly funding and supporting campus Republican groups, bringing speakers to colleges, and promoting messages of fiscal and social conservatism historically tied to President Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley,” noted Fortune.
The group has been filing lawsuits against colleges that bar right-wing speakers from campus. A recent lawsuit against the University of Florida, which repeatedly refused to use school funds to pay speaker fees for controversial Republicans, resulted in the university settling with conservative students for $66,000 and changing its free-speech rules.
Kannappan also ripped into Cornell’s decision to bar former Vice President Dick Cheney from speaking at the university in 2018. Cheney served under the George W. Bush administration, and was an early proponent of invading Iraq post 9/11, ostensibly in search of weapons of mass destruction, which were never found.
The Indian American offered career advice gleaned from Warren Buffett’s annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letters. "Work for someone whom you admire.”
“Spending time with people I respect makes work and daily life more fulfilling. It makes it that much easier to start each day and have a whole lot of fun,” he said.
Raman, 40, is the daughter of a Korean American mother and an Indian American father. Fortune noted that her company has had an exceptional year. “Akila Raman is at the heart of the action.”
Raman — who started as an intern at Goldman in 2003 — runs operational strategy for the global investment bank, and is currently focused on international expansion and growth in new products like Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance.
She has spent most of her time with natural resources companies in sectors such as energy, power, and metals, and has also prioritized using technology and automation to streamline workflow.
“As the daughter of Indian and Korean immigrants, Raman hasn’t seen many people who look like her on Wall Street, and she’s spent years mentoring women and people of color—not just at Goldman but across the industry,” noted Fortune.
“Whenever I leave this place and career, that will be a really cool legacy,” said Raman.
Seth, 37, co-founded Clubhouse in 2020, a social media startup that’s a cross between talk radio and a group chat.
“When the coronavirus pandemic forced people to stay home, the service exploded in popularity. Millions downloaded the app to listen to luminaries like rapper MC Hammer and Tesla CEO Elon Musk,” wrote Fortune in Seth’s profile. In June 2020, Clubhouse had a pivotal moment when Oprah Winfrey came to the site to discuss criminal justice reform with author and motivational speaker Shaka Senghor.
Clubhouse is one of the most talked-about consumer apps in recent years: investors have plunked over $300 million in the startup, which now has a private valuation of $4 billion, according to Fortune.
The serial entrepreneur created the Lydian Accelerator in 2019, a health care nonprofit named after his daughter Lydia that is focused on discovering treatments for rare genetic disorders.
“Lydian Accelerator’s goal is to uncover the medical treatments that traditional pharmaceutical giants may ignore because of their rarity. Taking cues from the tech industry, the accelerator aims to open-source and make free the genetic data, processes, and protocols necessary to develop potentially game-changing personalized treatments,” noted Fortune.
Seth said he was always interested in creating things, and he remembered doing carpentry as a child in India. After he got his first computer at 13, he said he started building websites and was captivated by the idea that he could connect with people all around the world, according to Fortune.