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16 May 2009
Neelan Choksi develops e-book reader Stanza; company acquired by internet giant Amazon

A US based technology company, Lexcycle (pronounced lexical), owned by a team of three IT whizzes, including Neelan Choksi, has recently been acquired by Internet giant Amazon. Lexcycle had developed the e-book reader application Stanza for iPhone which has become a huge hit worldwide in less than a year since it was launched. Neelan, who was Chief Operating Officer of Lexcylce, is the son of Geeta and Late Nitin Choksi. He resides in the US.

Late last year, soon after he quit his previous job as chief operating officer of Interface21—now called SpringSource—which makes the popular open source Spring Framework for IT organizations, Choksi teamed up with two ex-colleagues from an earlier stint with BEA Systems to launch Lexcycle. Along with Marc Prud’hommeaux, who had launched the first version of Stanza in July 2008, they further developed the application into an e-book reader for mobile devices. Soon Stanza became a smash hit, attracting a million users in the first six months (now estimated to have about 1.7 million users in more than 60 countries). The iPhone application is free and has been used to download some 8 million books.


Stanza helps a person find a book they want to read, buy it, and start reading it, all within the same application. If you’re reading a book, you can tap on the screen to advance the page, which enables one-handed reading. There are also no menus visible on the page while you’re reading, which eliminates distractions.

Choksi completed his chemical engineering major at MIT between 1988-1992 and as a member of the famed MIT Blackjack Team is said to have won upwards of $100,000, the amount that provided some of the capital for his first start up after working for four years at Exxon Research and Engineering, developing software to solve problems for refineries, then completing his business studies at the University of Chicago and the London Business School, and doing a six month stint at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).


In 1999, he joined TechTrader in Washington DC, a business-to-business marketplace software vendor set up by two of his friends. The company did not survive the Internet bust that followed the boom, and Choksi moved on to help start SolarMetric, another small tech firm that was acquired by BEA Systems in 2005. There he led the company’s open source effort in object-relational mapping tools for four years before joining Interface21.


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