Neha Narkhede is an Indian American technology businesswoman. She also works as a technology investor and advisor for many renowned international software companies. The streaming data technology company, Confluent was co-founded by her in 2014 where she worked as a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for some time. While working with LinkedIn, Neha Narkhede co-founded Apache Kafka, an open-source software platform. She is a board member of Confluent. In 2020, Forbes listed her as one of America’s Self-Made Women of the year.
Neha Narkhede was born in 1985 (age 37 years; as of 2022) in Pune, Maharashtra. From 2002 to 2006, she studied bachelor’s of engineering degree in computer science at Savitribai Phule Pune University, Maharashtra. From 2006 to 2007, she pursued a master’s degree in computer science at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia. According to Neha Narkhede, she was gifted a computer by her parents at the age of eight. Since then, she liked working on computers and dreamt about being tech-savvy one day. Once, in a conversation with a media reporter, Neha Narkhede stated that her parents were the biggest motivation in her life, and they imbibed the value of education in her. Neha Narkhede said,
My parents did a number of things that still impact my life today. First they instilled in me a belief that I could do anything. Second, they taught me the value of education. Third, they ensured that I was exposed to women role models.”
Height (approx.): 5′ 4″
Weight (approx.): 55 kg
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Her mother’s name is Kalpana Narkhede.
Neha Narkhede with her mother, Kalpana Narkhede
Husband & Children
Neha Narkhede is married to Sachin Kulkarni.
Neha Narkhede with her husband, Sachin Kulkarni
Neha Narkhede lives in Palo Alto, California, United States.
In February 2008, Neha Narkhede began working as a Member of the Technical Staff at Oracle Corporation after completing her college studies. She worked with Oracle Corporation till February 2010. She held the responsibilities of designing and implementing from scratch hierarchical faceted search. She then began working as a Software Engineer at LinkedIn in February 2010 and served the role till April 2011. In April 2011, Neha Narkhede was elevated to the position of Senior Software Engineer and she worked in the position till April 2012. She held the responsibilities of distributed systems like LinkedIn’s OLAP engine, Zookeeper, and Kafka. Neha Narkhede was designated as the Principal Software Enginner at LinkedIn in June 2012. In June 2013, she was appointed to take care of the Lead, Streams, and Infrastructure department of LinkedIn, and she served the role till September 2014.
Neha Narkhede while talking about Apache Kafka at a tech conference
In 2011, Neha Narkhede and her two colleagues Jun Rao and Jay Kreps established a software platform named Apache Kafka. During this time, she was working with LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network on the internet. According to Neha Narkhede, they came up with an idea to develop Kafka as an open-source platform when they were working on a project at the company.
Neha Narkhede during a Kafka Summit in 2019
Neha Narkhede then co-founded Confluent (a Palo Alto-based startup) in September 2014 with his colleagues Jay Kreps and Jun Rao and began working as its Chief Technology and Product Officer. She was designated as a board member of Confluent in January 2020. Later, Confluent started working as a B2B infrastructure venture under their guidance. According to Neha Narkhede, she, along with her two colleagues, came up with the idea of a startup when they confronted a data access problem while working at the workplace and began investigating the drawbacks of the technologies. In a media conversation, she talked about her enlightenment about new technology. Neha Narkhede said,
I talked to my colleague at the time, Jay Kreps, because he was thinking about the data access problem. I asked him if I could help work on a solution and that’s how we got started. We didn’t start by building technology. Instead we began by investigating the technologies that existed to understand their drawbacks. We concluded that a solution didn’t exist.”
From left to right – Neha Narkhede, Jay Kreps, and Jun Rao
According to some media sources, in 2019, Confluent extended its business earning up to $125 million, which elevated its total funding to $206 million for the year. In the following year, Confluent increased its profit to $250 million under the leadership of Neha Narkhede and her team, and this increased the total funding of the company to $456 million. Confluent is used for data analyzing and collecting purposes by giant companies including Goldman Sachs, Netflix, and Uber. Once, in a media interview, Neha Narkhede disclosed that her company aggregates the data of other companies within milliseconds and worked as a central nervous system for them. She said,
We view our technology as a central nervous system for companies that aggregates data and makes sense of it within milliseconds, at scale. We think virtually every company would benefit from that and we plan to bring it to them.”
Neha Narkhede is a successful businesswoman in the world of technology. She co-authored a book titled Kafka: The Definitive Guide along with Gwen Shapira and Todd Palino in 2017 to narrate and describe the technologies created by Kafka.
The cover of the book – Kafka The Definitive Guide by Neha Narkhede
Startup Investor & Advisor
Apart from being a businesswoman and tech-savvy, Neha Narkhede also works as a tech advisor. She started working as a startup investor and advisor in March 2020. She works as an advisor for noted software companies such as Gem, Block Party, Material Security, Abacus AI, Cortex Data, Yugabyte, Metaphor Data, Natalist, and Common Room.
Neha Narkhede while attending a tech conference
Awards, Honours, Achievements
In 2017, Neha Narkhede was listed as one of the innovators under 35 by MIT Technology Review. In 2018, Forbes listed her as one of America’s and the world’s top 50 Women in Tech. In 2018, she was the winner of the Oracle Groundbreaker Award at the Oracle Code One conference in San Francisco. In 2020, Forbes listed her #33 on the list of “America’s Self-Made Women.” In 2022, Neha Narkhede was ranked India’s youngest self-made woman entrepreneur by IIFL Wealth Hurun India Rich List 2022.
- Neha Narkhede likes scuba diving and travelling in her leisure time. In a media conversation, she stated that she was an avid scuba diver and loved to roam around the world along with her husband, Sachin Kulkarni. Neha Narkhede said,
I love to travel and I’m an avid scuba diver. My husband and I create lists of cool places to dive around the world like the Great Blue Hole in Belize. There were a lot of sharks around so it was a bit of an adrenaline rush.”
Neha Narkhede enjoying scuba diving with her husband
- According to Neha Narkhede, successful Indian women entrepreneurs such as Padmashree Warrior and Indira Nooyi are her role models. While talking to a media reporter in an interview, Neha narrated the achievements of these businesswomen. She said,
I look up to Padmashree Warrior, the ex-CTO at Cisco who is now the CEO and founder of NIO, an electric car startup. I also look up to Indira Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo.”