17 Oct 16 Questions With View’s Rao Mulpuri
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Rao Milpuri is CEO of smart-glass maker View, which snagged $1.8B from SoftBank’s Vision Fund less than a year ago. Each window measures the glare and light being radiated, and they have been installed in more than 35M SF of commercial real estate nationwide, by consumers looking to manage their energy consumption. The company is headquartered in Milpitas, California.
Mulpuri joined View in 2008 as CEO after holding several positions at tech company Novellus Systems. While there, he held several executive positions, including vice president/general manager of the company’s integrated medals business, and president of Novellus Systems Japan. He is also currently in leadership roles on the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the College of Engineering at Boston University, and is on Kateeva Inc.’s board of directors. He completed Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program and has worked with companies and groups including the U.S. Marine Corps and NASA.
Courtesy of Rao Milpuri
Rao Milpuri at Machu Picchu
Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?
Mulpuri: I tell them I have the greatest job, I lead a technology company with a team of highly passionate and dedicated people that is transforming the commercial real estate industry. Our mission is to create delightful human environments. We do this by using our smart windows, which automatically adjust to regulate heat and glare, without the need for blinds or shades.
Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?
Mulpuri: I would still be in technology — working on products that improve the lives of people everywhere.
Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?
Mulpuri: I look for five things from a job or career choice:
- Impact: Every day I wake up, I’d like to have the ability to make a difference.
- Learning: I want to be constantly learning and evolving.
- Career Path: I want the job to have meaning and a path to something greater in life.
- Recognition: Everyone appreciates being recognized for a job done well.
- Fun: Life is too short. If you’re having fun, you don’t need to “work” a single day.
I’ve been incredibly blessed to have found all of them in every job I’ve had. I can’t name a terrible job I’ve had.
Bisnow: What was your first big deal?
Mulpuri: Having now completed 50M SF, we know that in commercial real estate, scale matters. When you’re introducing a technology or product that’s transforming an industry, each win is special. Our first big win of scale in 2013 was Humber River Hospital in Toronto, Canada. HRH is a 1.8M SF award-winning hospital, and established View as a legitimate player in CRE.
Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?
Mulpuri: One of our cultural values at View is that we win or learn, never lose. As a company bringing a new category to market, with a product no one thought could be made, and as a disrupter, we’ve had our share of setbacks and challenges. But we absolutely take the viewpoint that we learn from our mistakes and push on.
Bisnow: If you could change one thing about the commercial real estate industry, what would it be?
Mulpuri: This question is core to who we are at View, I’d like to see the CRE industry have more ability to adapt quickly, and to embrace change. There’s a saying, “If you don’t like change, you will hate extinction.” Lately though, I have to say it’s getting easier, not harder.
Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?
Mulpuri: Misuse of email. Email can be an effective tool, but when it becomes a whole reply-all thread, or a lot of cc-ing additional people in an effort to work through a complex issue, it drives me crazy. Usually these things can be solved rapidly with a simple real-time conversation. Just pick up the phone or walk into someone’s office and cut through the noise.
Bisnow: Who is your greatest mentor?
Mulpuri: My dad. I grew up in a steel fabrication business he built from scratch. I learned from him what it means to really care for people and build great relationships.
Bisnow: What is the best and worst professional advice you’ve ever gotten?
Mulpuri: It’s funny, these are two sides of the same coin. The worst advice I ever got, and I got it often, was to not stand out. There is a saying, the rising nail gets the hammer. And yet, the best advice I have ever gotten was to stand out, to stand up for what I believe in, and stick to my convictions.
Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?
Mulpuri: Travel and being with my family. We have a bucket list of destinations and we continue to scratch off at least one each year.
Bisnow: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?
Mulpuri: My mom’s kitchen.
Bisnow: If you could sit down with President Donald Trump, what would you say?
Mulpuri: I’d remind him of what I’d share with any policymaker: The U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s population and uses around 25% of all the resources. What’s little known is that more than 50% of all innovation in the world comes from the U.S. Companies here can and should do more to create world-class, high-tech, high-paying manufacturing jobs in the communities where we live and grow. For example, in our Olive Branch, Mississippi, facility, the average wage is more than twice the local wage.
Bisnow: What’s the biggest risk you have ever taken?
Mulpuri: When I joined View more than 10 years ago, I gave it a 90% chance the technology would fail. But that didn’t deter me because the question I had was, ‘What if it could succeed?’ It would change the world! In fact, a month into my initial journey, we determined that the original technology didn’t work, and the 10% chance went to zero. We went back to the drawing board and built everything from scratch. And the rest is history.
Bisnow: What is your favorite place to visit in your hometown?
Mulpuri: My parents’ home.
Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?
Mulpuri: I am always focused on the people at View. We have some of the smartest and most committed people and I do not want to let them down. I want to see them all fulfill their dreams and reach their highest potential.
Bisnow: Outside of your work, what are you most passionate about?
Mulpuri: My family.