Keith J. Krach
For his outstanding leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and pioneering innovation.
It all began in his father’s small machine shop. Keith Krach was to go to college and come back home to take over the business. But things don’t always go according to plan. After visiting Purdue with a friend, he was sold on attending Purdue for his college education. He thought that Purdue had a lot to offer in engineering—and it looked like a good time. Little did he know that the opportunities he would encounter at Purdue would lead him to do much bigger things than work in his father’s machine shop.
While at Purdue, Krach participated in Old Masters and Gimlet, and he especially cherished his time spent as a brother of the Sigma Chi fraternity. “I was a very industrious student,” he says, “but I never missed a party. My Purdue education gave me a well-rounded base and a good start. I learned things from all over the spectrum, from technology to management, which have helped me in my career.” While at Purdue, Krach was on a General Motors scholarship, graduating in 1979 with his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. He then received a General Motors Fellowship at Harvard Business School, where he received his MBA in 1981. During those early years, he says, he never could have imagined the career that he enjoys today.
The Road to Success
After Harvard, Krach went to work for General Motors, where he’d been employed during the summers while he was in college. In his ten years with GM, he served as the general manager of the newly developed robotics division and became the youngest vice president at the age of 26. After a good start to his professional career, he left General Motors to work at a mechanical computer-aided design software company called Rasna Corporation, where he served as the chief operating officer. The company saw great success during Krach’s time there and sold for over $500 million in 1995.
From being the youngest vice president at General Motors to becoming a recipient of Ernst & Young’s National Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2000, Krach has a lot to show for his success. In 1996 he co-founded Ariba Inc. in Mountain View, California. Ariba helps companies analyze, understand, and manage their corporate spending to achieve increased cost savings and business process efficiency, and it’s used on about four million desktops all around the world today. Under Krach’s leadership, Ariba’s revenues increased to $500 million per year in the first five years. Red Herring magazine named him one of the top 10 entrepreneurs and Ariba as best managed privately held high-tech company, both in 1998. In 2000, Ariba won the Technology Pioneer Award at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. “My biggest challenge has been to start companies up from scratch,” Krach says. “The key to success is building a high-performance team, but it takes a lot of work.” While he says that starting a company is his biggest challenge, he keeps doing it over again. Krach’s latest business venture is an investment holding company called 3 Points LLC in Los Gatos, California. 3 Points LLC specializes in investing in high-tech companies and advising CEO’s.
Despite an extremely successful career, Krach is most proud of his daughter and two sons. He also takes pride in his fraternity, Sigma Chi, and currently serves as International President. “I try to come back to Purdue about twice a year,” he says. “I have been involved a lot with industrial engineering and Sigma Chi because it is a way to give back to something I have a great passion for.” This entrepreneur sees Purdue playing an integral role in our rapidly changing world economy: “Our society needs more engineers, management, and technology people, and we need fewer lawyers if we want to stay on top.”
In addition to his generosity to the School of Industrial Engineering, Krach contributed to the high-ropes course that Purdue’s Class of 1979 presented to the University in October 2005. It’s a course that challenges people to work together as a team—and from Krach’s perspective, you need a great team in order to create success.
|2005||President of 3 Points LLC|
|2000||National Entrepreneur of the Year, award given by Ernst & Young|
|1998||Named a top 10 entrepreneur by Red Herring magazine|
|1996||Co-founder of Ariba Inc.; served as Chairman and CEO|
|1991||Chief Operating Officer, Rasna Corporation|
|1984||Vice President of General Motors|
|1981||General Manager of General Motors, Robotics Operations|
BSIE ’79, Purdue University
MBA ’81, Harvard University