Proud compatriots: Pakistani tech stars make it big in Silicon Valley

Published: December 15, 2013
Before going public through the IPO, FireEye raised $100 million in funding from companies like Sequoia Capital, Goldman Sachs, Juniper Networks, Silicon Valley Bank and others. DESIGN: TALHA KHAN

Before going public through the IPO, FireEye raised $100 million in funding from companies like Sequoia Capital, Goldman Sachs, Juniper Networks, Silicon Valley Bank and others. DESIGN: TALHA KHAN


It’s always amazing to see how brown lads from the sub-continent outdo other nations in the field of technology, but they seldom take their net worth all the way close to $450 million.

One such name is Ashar Aziz, who recently won his cyber security firm, FireEye, an initial public offering (IPO) at Nasdaq stock exchange worth $304 million. Aziz also owns about 10.91 million shares in a California-based security company, Milipitas, which makes up almost 9.3% stake in the firm worth about $392 million.

Aziz’s company, FireEye, has a virtualisation engine that shields its clients’ infrastructure from attacks sourced from the web and email, all through its dynamic virtual cloud – analysing and providing intelligence on incoming data in real-time. Before going public through the IPO, FireEye raised $100 million in funding from companies like Sequoia Capital, Goldman Sachs, Juniper Networks, Silicon Valley Bank and others.

Another proud Pakistani in the Silicon Valley is Riaz Haq, who was one of the six engineers who comprised the award winning Intel 80386 CPU design team. For his services to the computing industry, specifically the 80386 family of Intel processors, he was recognised as the Person of the Year by PC Magazine, apart from being on the faculty of Rutgers University and NED University and co-founding DynArray Corp.

Another man who’s taken the tech community by surprise is a Pakistani American, Rayid Ghani, the chief scientist who helped Obama elect for the second time, through his research on immensely large sets of data that belonged to Obama’s supporters on the internet, and took his election campaign 10 folds deeper than his supporters’ influence.

Ghani used to work for Accenture before joining Obama’s campaign and had a vast experience of working in the big data field and forecasting consumer behaviour. He used his experience to mine and study meaningful patterns out of Obama’s supporters’ data online and used their presence to advertise Obama’s campaign through means of micro targeting.

Another thriving venture from a Pakistani American is Streetline, which comes from Zia Yousuf, formerly, the executive vice president at SAP AG. Streetline has come up with tailored smartphone applications that help drivers locate vacant parking slots in crowded parking lots at universities, airports, garages or even private parking providers.

The company has raised $65 million in capital so far and is doing exceptionally well, having reached nine-digit figures for its total parking events completed already.

All these men together have served the green flag well and deserve to be on this list I’ve composed. There’s a browner enigma that sticks out of the nation that Pakistan is, and a lot more that is seen in the Silicon Valley. I’ll keep that for another column.

The writer runs a software company in Dubai

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Truth detector
    Dec 15, 2013 - 10:55PM

    brown lads

    Sorry but this ethnic characterization is unnecessary & uncalled for.


  • optimist
    Dec 15, 2013 - 11:09PM

    Well done Asher for making us proud.


  • Raza
    Dec 15, 2013 - 11:22PM

    Thank you for this article!!!
    Its rare to read good news nowadays about our country partly to our doings and partly to the overly negative media…
    These kinds of news rarely get published in our papers unlike india where they frequently publish these stories to motivate their people…


  • ForeverDesi
    Dec 15, 2013 - 11:27PM

    Ahh yes….Pakistani-Americans, in what single way are they beneficial for the country or make the country proud? Traitors if I do say so. Done nothing ‘cept send money back home. Not benefiting the nation in any way.


  • Ibrahim
    Dec 16, 2013 - 12:07AM

    Great job describing the successful Pakistanis, particularly in USA. Also the ACER Computer North America Co-Founder was A Pakistani Guy, Mr. Qureshi, before the company was sold to Taiwan based group. Also a Pakistani origin Physician is owner of a Medical Insurance Group and he is a Billionaire. Late Mr. Micheal Choudhary Founder of Globex Freight Airline in US, was a Pakistani. There are quite a few inspirational Pakistanis, particularly in the US, that are rarely mentioned in Pakistan. It would a good idea to highlight their success to encourage the young Pakistanis, who have all the potential to be just as successful, given they have a good role model, and good mentors.


  • Janet Garcia Texas USA
    Dec 16, 2013 - 1:10AM

    Congratulations to these young entrepreneurs. Living in the best place of the world America is where you achieve your dream. No matter what your ethnic background male or female if you have the talent it will be recognized. The reason is that people believe in you and your idea you are not handicapped by a sleazy corrupt government officials a lazy work ethic and in America specially the famous Silicon Valley innovative ideas flourish as people believe that great ideas can advance when you are not bound by corruption, people who want to rob your idea and turn it into their profit margin where thinking outside the box is encouraged not every entrepreneur is successful but those that have failed have learned & boldly ventured forward.
    So the burning question is I ponder as to why these great immigrants cannot do it in the homeland?


  • Hassena Haider Michigan USA
    Dec 16, 2013 - 1:18AM

    @ForeverDesi – Why in the name of heaven should Pakistani-Americans according to you be beneficial to Pakistan when its is populated by people like you that are filled with jealousy, mired with laziness surrounded by a culture of corruption grounded by conspiracy theories who support the Taliban that create havoc of mayhem & death?
    We owe you nothing get up study work hard and achieve your dream as my parents did! there is NO such thing as a free ride!


  • just_someone
    Dec 16, 2013 - 1:22AM

    Lets have the conversation of what youve done for pak? The money we overseas pakistanis send is the reason Pakistan is still eating and alive. without us, pakistan would go bankrupt and you wont even be able to get atta.
    if domestic pakistanis were doing anything productive, do you think the country would be in the condition it is now?


  • jamshed kharian-pak
    Dec 16, 2013 - 3:53AM

    Very good news felicitations for their success of cours our success! Originated from Ir Pakistan the fifth largest country in the world


  • Rayid ghani
    Dec 16, 2013 - 7:43AM

    His undergraduate degree and post graduate degree are oth from USA. If his undergrad degree were Pakistani, I would have understood Pakistan taking credit for his success. At this time, his success only means that in USA people can reach the top regardless of their religion, race or ethnicity.


  • Hassan
    Dec 16, 2013 - 9:04AM

    Very refreshing to read something like this!


  • Overseas
    Dec 16, 2013 - 9:35AM

    What else do you want besides remittances? We do not even have the no right to vote!


  • Dec 16, 2013 - 9:43AM

    @Janet Garcia Texas USA: Madam……….I love and honor your comments. Thank you. But haven’t you answered the question in the beginning of your comment? Have a nice day. Salams


  • Hatim
    Dec 16, 2013 - 10:02AM

    @Hassena Haider Michigan ForeverDesi is just suggesting that there is nothing for us Pakistanis to feel proud about for what these people have achieved. What’s there to be proud of when emigrants who can not achieve success at home to so somewhere else? On the contrary, it is something to be ashamed about–not that the emigrants are doing anything wrong.


  • SK
    Dec 16, 2013 - 11:22AM

    Atiq Raza is among the top Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and who is now a VC and partner of the legendary Vinod Khosla in Khosla Ventures. Rashid Shaikh of Dallas is another who made it big in 2000 and so on…
    Cheers SK


  • Dec 16, 2013 - 5:25PM

    Very Well done Pakistani professionals and enterpreneurs, you have made us proud !! . I pray for your success, however, this stream of success should flow in such a manner that this number increase day by day. If one candle could make the whole house glow, imagine what could the above mentioned successful ones could do?Recommend

  • UB40
    Dec 16, 2013 - 6:20PM

    @ForeverDesi, most Pakistani immigrants do remain “Forever Pakistani”. They make efforts to help Pakistanis at home and overseas especially when they see those whom they are trying to help are also trying to help themselves. Yes they remain skeptical of those who just want to sit and have everything done for them. I have had a personal experience of a Pakistani professor at a US university guide me for my post graduate education. This was 20 years ago and I am eternally grateful for the advice he gave me. What was common between the two of us, only our country origin, our undergraduate institution and our fields of study. Having said that, at that time I also contacted many professors of Indian origin for support and guidance and was overwhlemed by their kindness, support and encouragement. Some of them were luminaries in their fields. God bless them all.

    A top ranking Pakistani official was once asked in an interview his opinion on “brain drain” and his reply was “brain drain is better than keeping the brain in a drain”. I see the wisdom in his remarks. I stress that other Pakistanis do so too and stop stigmatising those who have the potential and want to realise it anywhere they can find an opportunity. India has only started seeing reverse brain drain once it has lifted itself up to the standard of developed economies. The same will be true for Pakistan if we ever get to that stage.


  • Ishrat salim
    Dec 16, 2013 - 10:29PM

    These Pakistanis would have never left their motherland, if they got the same oppurtunity and encouragment offered within Pakistán…….how sad ! we missed them…..we however, salute them of making us proud….may Allah swt protect them and their family.


  • Hassena Haider Michigan USA
    Dec 17, 2013 - 12:55AM

    @Hatim your claim ForeverDesi is just suggesting that there is nothing for us Pakistanis to feel proud about so you blame your defeating attitude on Pakistani Americans immigrants & born here? We did not create an atmosphere of laziness & it is plain flaccid jealousy that you do not celebrate the ones that through hard work an innovation are making a place for future generations that we have the talent we just need to apply it.


  • usman
    Dec 17, 2013 - 5:28PM

    desi boi,, they are doing a great deal of favour to pakistan by sending dollars here.. they are increasing Pakistan’s forex reserves thereby contributing to the economy as a whole!!


  • Moiz Omar
    Dec 29, 2013 - 12:19AM

    We Pakistanis are very talented. Proud to be Pakistani.


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