We all heard the news about Dara Khosrowshahi who became the CEO of Uber in the past couple of days. But who else can be named as a successful Iranian entrepreneur in Silicon Valley? Here is the list of these people.
Persia was a cradle of science in earlier times, contributing to medicine, mathematics, science, and philosophy. In the past couple of decades, the Iranian government has been trying to revive the golden time of Persian science. That’s why Iran has made great advancements in different sectors, including aerospace, nuclear science, medical development, as well as stem cell and cloning research.
Talking about startups and tech companies, due to the sanctions and the opportunities it brought to the young generation, you can find many local versions of international startups in the country which are pretty successful. Snapp the equivalent of Uber, Digikala the equivalent of Amazon, Bamilo the equivalent of eBay, Aparat the equivalent of YouTube, Cafe Bazaar the equivalent of Google Play, NetBarg the equivalent of Groupon and SnappFood (previously known as ZoodFood) the equivalent of foodora are a few examples of such startups.
Iran startup ecosystem is four to five years old and as any other young startup ecosystem, it started by cloning the successful international startups. We don’t have our own domestic unicorns yet but we are getting there. You might ask why are we so certain? The answer lies within the achievements of successful Iranian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and other parts of the world such as Berlin and London.
In a recent post by Alireza Tahmaseb the founder of Blocks (The world’s first modular smartwatch), on his Medium page, he went through a list of successful Iranian-American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. In 2015, Persian Tech Entrepreneurs, which is a community of Iranian tech entrepreneurs outside of Iran also published a post on this subject with the title of 100 Most Influential Persian Entrepreneurs & Innovators of 2015.
The list below was originally published by Alireza Tahmaseb. The list only consists of Iranians in Silicon Valley but there are many successful Iranian entrepreneurs such as Anousheh Ansari or scientists such as Dr. Firouz Naderi, Dr. Nader Engheta as Alireza mentioned in his post.
Let’s take a look at the list:
- Dara Khosrowshahi: CEO of Uber. Ex-CEO of Expedia.
- Ali & Hadi Partovi: Ali co-founded LinkExchange and Hadi co-founded Tellme Networks. Both companies were acquired by Microsoft. The brothers are early investors in Facebook, Dropbox, Airbnb, Uber, Zappos, and many other startups. They then started Code.org, a non-profit organization which teaches computer science and coding to students.
- Amir Khosrowshahi: Co-founder of Nervana (AI company) acquired by Intel for $400M. Bonus point: The 4 people above, as well as some other prominent entrepreneurs are all relatives. Check this Washington Post article.
- Shervin Pishevar: Co-founder/executive chairman of Hyperloop One and co-founder/managing director of Sherpa Capital. Previously he was a managing director at Menlo Ventures where he led investments in Uber and Warby Parker. Before that he founded WebOS.
- Pierre Omidyar: Founder of eBay.
- Pejman Nozad: Co-founder and managing director of Pear Ventures which has invested in Dropbox, LendingClub, Gusto, Guardant Health, Philz Coffee, DoorDash, etc. Previously he invested in PayPal as part of Amidzad Ventures. He has an amazing (someone should literally make a Hollywood movie!) life-story, read it here.
- Arash Ferdowsi: Co-founder/CTO Dropbox
- Omid Kordestani: Executive Chairman of Twitter and previously Chief Business Officer of Google
- Bob Miner: co-founder of Oracle
- Keyvan Beykpour: Co-Founder/CEO of Periscope (acquired by Twitter)
- Bobby Yazdani: co-founder and managing director of Cota Capital and Signatures Capital where he has invested in Google, Dropbox, Uber, Bonobos, Bina, Salesforce, etc. Previously he founded Saba Software and took it IPO.
- Saeed Amidi: Founder/CEO of Plug and Play Tech Center, one of the largest start-up incubators and super early stage investors in Silicon Valley.
- Sean Rad: Founder of Tinder!
- Lily Sarafan: CEO of Home Care Assistance (HCA) with 6,500+ employees and $200M+ in annual revenues
- Ali Rowghani: CEO of YCombinator Continuity (YC’s $1B investment fund). Previously CFO of Pixar, and CFO then COO of Twitter.
- Kamran Elahian: Chairman and co-founder of Global Catalyst Partners, an international multi-stage Venture Capital. Previously founded Cirrus Logic (took to IPO) and many other semiconductor companies.
- Mohsen Moazami: Managing Director at Columbus Nova Technology Partners. Previously he was a VP at Cisco and before that, he founded Stanford Business Systems which was acquired by Kurt Salmon Associates.
- Shane Tedjarati: President/CEO of Honeywell’s High Growth Regions (Asia, Africa, Middle East, and Eastern Europe). Honeywell ranks 73 in the Fortune 100 list.
- Hossein Eslambolchi: former CEO of AT&T Labs, and former Global CTO of AT&T
- Farhad Mohit: Serial entrepreneur, Founder/CEO at Flipagram, BizRate, Shopzilla where they were all acquired.
- Ali Vahabzadeh: Co-founder/CEO of Chariot acquired by Ford.
- Darian Shirazi: Founder of Radius, a marketing platform for small businesses which has raised over $80M in venture capital
- Farzad Nazem: ex-CTO of Yahoo! Now he and his wife, Noosheen Hashemi, manage the Hand Foundation and various other non-profit organizations.
- Salar Kamangar: ex-CEO of YouTube and 7th employee to join Google
- Pedram Keyani: Uber’s Director of Engineering
- Bijan Sabet: General Partner Spark Capital investor in Twitter and Tumblr.
- Shahin Farshchi: Partner at Lux Capital investing in deep tech companies
- Touraj Parang: VP Corp. Development at GoDaddy. Previously founding COO of UpCounsel, VP Strategy of Webs, and founder of Jaxtr (acquired)
- Shayan Zadeh & Alex Mehr: Founders of Zoosk, an online dating company with over $180M annual revenue.
- Babak Pahlavan & Nima Asgharbeygi: Founders of CleverSense Acquired by Google and now executives at Google.
- Amin Zoufonoun: VP Corporate Development Facebook. Previously Director of Corporate Development at Google.
- Max Gazor: General Partner at Charles River Ventures. Previously Corp. Development Manager at Cisco.
- Narges Baniasadi: Founder/CEO of Bina Technologies, a bioinformatics company, which was acquired by Roche. Now she serves as a VP at Roche.
- Keyvan Mohajer: Founder/CEO of SoundHound, a Natural Language Processing company with over $75 in investment.
- Hessam Esfandyarpoor: Founder/CEO of Genapsys, a Genetics company, with over $45M in investment.
- Mostafa Ronaghi: CTO of Illumina a gene sequencing company with a $28Bn market cap.
- AmirAli Talasaz: Co-Founder/President at Guardant Health which recently raised $550M in venture capital for cancer detection using blood tests.
- Nima Ghamsari: CEO at Blend, a mortgage lending technology platform, which has raised $160M in venture capital.
Alireza Tahmaseb mentioned the following people as the next generation of Iranian-American entrepreneurs and the rising stars:
- Falon Roz Fatemi: Founder/CEO of Node.io with $18M+ funding (Mark Cuban is an investor!). The previously youngest employee at Google.
- Arad Rostampour: Founder/CEO of ZenHealth (YC backed) and co-founder of SocialShielf acquired by Avira.
- Saam Motamedi: Investor at Greylock Partners, previously founded Guru Labs.
- Yasmin Razavi: Investor at Spark Capital, previously at Index Ventures and McKinsey.
- Parsa Saljoughian: Vice President at Institutional Venture Partners. Previously at SnapChat
- Payam Banazadeh: Co-Founder/CEO at Capella Space, building space infrastructure, which has raised $12M
- Ali Kashani,: Founder of Lux.io (AI in food company) acquired by PostMates and now an executive at PostMates.
- Mehdi Samadi: Founder of Solvvy, an AI-based CRM company which was featured in WSJ, etc. and raised $4.5M.
- Maryam Ziaei & Shadi Saberi: Founders of iSono Health, backed by Ycombinator
- Ehsan Saeedi & Danial Ehyaie: Founders of Gate Labs, the smart lock company.
- Ben Nader: Founder/CEO Butterfleye, a security solutions company with $4M+ in funding.
- Babak Elmieh: Founder/CEO of Nascent Objects acquired by Facebook.
- Daniel Ahmadizadeh: A recent YCombinator backed company building a product for real estate agents which has raised over $3M in venture capital.
- Padideh Kamali-Zare and Kaveh Vejdani: founded Darmiyan, a YC-backed software platform to detect Alzheimer’s disease.
And the youngest one to join the club, a 15 year old entrepreneur, Soroush Ghodsi!
- Soroush Ghodsi: The youngest founder ever to join Ycombinator who has started Silk.ai which is a lead generation company.
Hearing about successful Iranian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and other parts of the world is always a great news. This brings us to this question that “Are we going to see these entrepreneurs in their home country in the near future to help build the next generation of success stories?”