After earning an M.B.A. at Kent State University and working for International Business Machines Corp., Umang Gupta was tempted to return to his native India and start his own company. He went home for an extended visit in late 1977. Then he was lured back by two things, a girlfriend and a sense that Silicon Valley was his best career bet.

He married the young woman, Ruth Pike, in 1980 and raised a family with her. He signed on as employee No. 17 at what became the software giant Oracle Corp. He launched his own software company, Gupta Technologies Inc., in 1984. Initially successful, that business floundered in the mid-1990s as Oracle and Microsoft Corp. muscled into its niche.