The gathering of hundreds of foreign dignitaries, business luminaries and members of the press at January’s World Economic Forum in New York City, included one of HBS’s current students.
An independent WEF review committee selected Amish Mehta (OH) as one of 69 “2002 Technology Pioneers” for his work as CEO of CommercialWare, a software company he founded in 1998.
All of the new pioneers selected were CEOs of technology companies – Mehta was by far the youngest member of the group. The criteria for selection required that the CEOs’ companies be “innovative…with all the signs of a long-term market leader…that has the potential to have a substantial long-term impact on business and society in the future.” Also, the CEO must provide “visionary leadership that plays a critical role in driving the company towards reaching its goals.” Mehta does not know who nominated him for the honor, but all opinions are that he has definitely met and exceeded those criteria.
CommercialWare now employs 150 people and develops software for retailers to manage multi-channel order processing (simultaneous orders from both catalogs and the Internet), for example. CommercialWare’s annual revenues exceeded $20 million last year with positive net income, and the company counts Target, Starbucks, Disney and Saks Fifth Avenue among its customers. When he came to HBS, Mehta became the company’s Chairman. He will retain that post after graduation, when he moves to San Francisco to work for Vector Capital, a venture capital firm.
Mehta started the company by acquiring a small division of a public company with $5 million in initial venture capital funding and, with an additional funding round of $20 million, expanded it to its current level.
As a Technology Pioneer, Mehta was invited to attend the main meetings of the WEF in New York, but he will also have the opportunity to attend additional sessions with his fellow pioneers “to find ways that we as a group can take action to benefit society, principally through technology,” he said. The first formal meeting will take place in Washington, DC, in May.
Mehta will take part in meetings alongside the CEOs of some well-known companies, including Eric Schmidt of Google, Jeff Taylor of Monster.com and Peter Thiel of PayPal.
During the pioneers’ first meeting, the group gathered for formal and casual discussions of the state of technology industry. They also spent time meeting each other.
Afterward, Mehta was a bit star-struck. “It was a little bit surreal to be viewed as a peer by some of these people,” he said.