EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been corrected to note Sundaram's opinion that in future, vehicles will be differentiated by the amount of intelligence embedded in them.
In high school, Vishnu Sundaram, vice president of Harman International’s telematics operation, spent his time creating Web portals and even set up the first email service provider attached to the domain of his hometown — Kovai, India.
“In India computers were at least two to three years behind compared to the U.S.,” said Sundaram. “But I was lucky. I had my first computer when I was in third grade in the early ’90s.”
After acquiring a master’s degree in software engineering, he began his career as a software engineer at Intel in India. In 2005, he moved to the U.S. and took a technical associate position at Trilogy, which provides software services to automotive and consumer electronics companies.
Though thriving at Trilogy, Sundaram decided to return to India in 2007 to start his own telematics company. The company, Interchain Solution, focused on building connectivity products for vehicles.
“We ran it for about five years, more or less focusing on the Asian customers,” said Sundaram. “At peak we had 70 percent market share in the domain where we were populating.”
Harman acquired Interchain Solution in 2012, and Sundaram was tasked with developing the telematics operation with the aim of making connectivity standard in all vehicles.
“It was isolated from the rest of the structure,” said Sundaram. “This was given an incubation time and I was directly reporting to the president.
“We built the required talent, we built the required technology and right now we are sitting on more than $500 million of backlog business.”
In the future, Sundaram says, vehicles will be differentiated by the amount of intelligence embedded in them.
“The backbone of an intelligent car is connectivity,” said Sundaram. “We try to build these, make them affordable, make them easily integratable so that it becomes a standard, like seat belts, in all the cars.”
-- Anisa Jibrell