ibnlive » World

Jun 08, 2009 at 03:05pm IST

Google partner pays homage to mentor Motwani

Washington: "Today, whenever you use a piece of technology, there is a good chance a little bit of Rajeev Motwani is behind it," wrote Google co-founder Sergey Brin on his mentor's death.

"Officially, Rajeev was not my advisor, and yet he played just as big a role in my research, education, and professional development," he wrote in his blog Friday hours after Motwani, 47, a Stanford University Indian-American computer science professor, was found dead in his swimming pool at his California home.

"In addition to being a brilliant computer scientist, Rajeev was a very kind and amicable person and his door was always open. No matter what was going on with my life or work, I could always stop by his office for an interesting conversation and a friendly smile," Brin wrote.

A LOSS: The IIT Kanpur pass-out Stanford Professor loved to guide start-ups. (Pic courtesy: theory.stanford.edu )

Motwani, who was best known for mentoring numerous Stanford graduate students, including Google co-founders Larry Page and Brin, was also a special adviser to Sequoia Capital and invested in companies including PayPal and Google.

Silicon Valley angel investor Ron Conway said in a video tribute: "He shared my attitude that the more entrepreneurs you can help, even if you only give them five minutes, go do it. He never refused a meeting with an entrepreneur that I suggested he meet just to give them some quick advice."

His success, however, "never came in the way of Rajeev's quest for knowledge and innate desire to help others," wrote his friend, blogger Om Malik. "There wasn't a start-up he didn't love."

Condolences poured out over the Internet as news spread about the sudden demise of Motwani, a Kanpur IIT graduate who received his Ph D in computer science from University of California, Berkeley in 1988.

The mood of a TechFellow event in San Francisco on Saturday night turned from cheerful cocktail-sipping banter to stunned silence as the news of Motwani's death spread quickly throughout the couple of hundred attendees, wrote Michael Arrington of TechCrunch.com.

"Most everyone who was there is his friend. And most everyone there had a story to tell about how Motwani had helped them at one time or another, asking nothing in return. I have a couple of those stories myself," he said.

Motwani's research spanned a diverse set of areas in computer science, including databases, data mining, and data privacy; Web search and information retrieval; robotics; computational drug design; and theoretical computer science.

He authored two books, Randomized Algorithms and an undergraduate textbook published by in 2001.

Among other honours, he won the prestigious 2001 Godel Prize, which is awarded for excellence in the field of theoretical computer science.

Motwani sat on the boards or advisory boards of Google, Mimosa Systems, Neopath Networks, Revenue Science, Stanford Student Enterprises Ventures, and Vuclipa, among others. He was also active in the Business Association of Stanford Engineering Students.

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