As co-founder and chief scientist at Juniper Networks, Pradeep Sindhu became a prominent figure in the technology world by helping to construct the internet as we know it. Now CEO of Santa Clara startup Fungible, he has set his sights on developing a new class of microprocessors to power the next generation of data centers. He is close to launching tools to make data centers more cost efficient, reliable and scalable.
“Everything depends on the information infrastructure of a data center — and not only as we work and teach from home during the pandemic,” Pradeep explains. “The data center drives computational power, network connectivity and storage. Drug discovery, for instance, which is so important these days, requires intensive computational power. I’m excited that our technology will make an impact.”
With a computer science and electrical engineering doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University, Pradeep started Juniper Networks in 1996 and spent 25 years there before embarking on this new venture. “Not many people think building infrastructure is sexy, but I much prefer work in this foundational space,” he says.
The Brain on Technology
Despite Pradeep’s professional success in advancing technology, he worries that the COVID-19 pandemic and our efforts to contain it are prohibiting us from interacting with nature and one another. Nowadays, we are glued to our screens, with smartphones and tablets serving as our primary link to reality.
“The isolation caused by the pandemic — and by technology itself — is very disturbing to me,” Pradeep says. “We’ve all been spending more time online, and this trend is having negative impacts on us all. In young children, it may result in difficulties relating to other people; for everyone, it can lead to higher levels of anxiety.”
In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Pradeep and his wife, Marie, became concerned about the despair they saw spreading across the nation. COVID-19 has shined a light on healthcare gaps, and the Sindhus recognized that many people losing their jobs due to the pandemic were also losing access to healthcare.
“COVID was an alarm bell for us,” Marie says. “There are lots of people left without health coverage, without jobs and with accelerating anxiety and other mental health challenges. It is heartbreaking.”
Wanting to help, the couple made a sizeable gift to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation — their first — to support our efforts to reimagine mental health services. “Mental health always seems to be put on the backburner,” Marie says. “But especially during crises like we’re experiencing now, it is such a big issue. Without mental stability, your physical health suffers as well.”
Stepping up to Support Mental Health
Until recently, Marie and Pradeep had known PAMF only for their healthcare. Marie was born in France and spent her formative years in Spain before coming to the U.S. to improve her English. She intended to return to Europe to enroll in a special graduate program in Switzerland but opted instead to complete her Ph.D. in literature and linguistics at the University of Pittsburgh. After the couple was introduced by a mutual friend, Pradeep and Marie decided to stay in the States and raise their family in the Bay Area. They moved to California in 1984 and have been PAMF patients ever since.
“PAMF is the only healthcare we have known since moving to California, and our family has never felt the need to go elsewhere,” Marie says. “Fortunately, we have not experienced serious health issues, but anytime our insurance changed, we’ve made sure PAMF was still available to us.”
Knowing the couple’s desire to make an impact
during the pandemic, their friend, PAMF board member Sanjay Subhedar, suggested PAMF
as a local organization that would put their generosity to good use. “We’ve
been PAMF patients for the longest time,” Pradeep says. “When we thought
about which organizations we might like to donate to right now, we couldn’t
have found a better recipient.”
For the Sindhus, philanthropy is personal: They want to make the communities closest to them better. This includes helping to increase access to quality healthcare as well as doing their part to protect the environment, another issue close to their hearts. Even before the pandemic, they intentionally traveled shorter distances “because of the dramatic carbon footprint caused by airplanes,” Marie says.
When Pradeep is not working, the Sindhus spend
time enjoying the outdoors, walking, hiking and kayaking. But they always keep a pulse
on the health of the community and a watchful eye on where their philanthropy can
make an impact.