Featured Alumni
Photo of Anand Agarawala

School of Graduate Studies

Anand Agarawala

Master of Science (MSc) 2006

Sometimes a thesis takes on a life of its own. So it was with BumpTop, a desktop environment that earned University of Toronto graduate Anand Agarawala both an MA and a deal with Google.

No one could accuse Anand Agarawala of fitting the soft-spoken stereotype of a computer science student. “I think we’re in the cave-painting era of computer interfaces,” he told a sympathetic crowd watching a demonstration of BumpTop, the remarkably lifelike interface he developed as his master’s thesis at U of T.

BumpTop looks like a desktop in the traditional sense of the word. Files and photos lie on a rectangular platform, neatly stacked or spread out in blissful disarray. Items can be bunched in this corner or that. The user can shift and arrange them accordingly.

“Instead of point and click, it’s push and pull,” Agarawala explains. “Things collide, as they would on a real desk.” Items of lesser importance can be crunched into a ball and tossed to the side. Post-it notes go on the wall. Careful application of the laws of physics makes larger and heavier objects harder to dislodge than lighter ones.

A Heffernan/Co-Steel Innovation Commercialization Fellowship at U of T got Agarawala started. The demo went viral on YouTube. BumpTop got a five-star review on CNET. Venture investors were interested; Agarawala raised $1.65 million. Agarawala was named by Businessweek magazine as one of the Top 20 Young Tech Entrepreneurs of 2009.

Google noticed. In 2010, the search-engine colossus bought BumpTop for an undisclosed sum and hired its creator as a product manager.  The corporate environment was new for the startup upstart, but Agarawala has adapted.

“Business doesn’t have to be dirty,” he says. “Economics are a necessary part of the equation when you’re doing anything at a scale that touches lots of people.”


Published Nov. 28, 2013

Related Alumni

TJ Kang

School of Graduate Studies

"Think Free" is not just a philosophical concept to TJ Kang, it is a credo that inspired him to become a major software innovator.

Suneet Singh Tuli

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind Ltd., believes low-cost internet holds the key to eliminating illiteracy in developing countries.

Robert Herjavec

New College | Faculty of Arts & Science

Robert Herjavec calls himself a “serial entrepreneur.” This might sound scary, but his rags-to-riches story is really about a nice guy.

Morgan Wyatt and Jackson Wyatt

Innis College | Faculty of Arts & Science

Lots of people have interesting ideas, said Morgan Wyatt, but entrepreneurs are those individuals who act on them.

Allen Lau

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering | School of Graduate Studies

When a headline asks whether your company can “save reading”, you know you’ve got it made. Allen Lau’s Wattpad is on fire.
See all featured Alumni

Don't miss out!

Update your contact information to be the first to know about exclusive offers. This makes it easy to tell us when your email has changed.

Update my information

Special discounts

Did you know that U of T alumni get deep discounts on attractions, sporting events, car rentals and more? Sign up today.

Sign up