Contributions of Silicon-Valley Pakistanis to High-Tech Revolution
By Riaz Haq

 

 

Silicon Valley is home to 12,000 to 15,000 Pakistani Americans. Thousands of them are working at Apple, Cisco, Google, Intel, Oracle and hundreds of other high-tech companies from small start-ups to large Fortune 500 corporations. Pakistani-Americans are contributing to what Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee describe as "The Second Machine Age" in a recent book with the same title.
Pakistani-American Ecosystem: Pakistani-American entrepreneurs , advisers, mentors, venture capitalists, investment bankers, accountants and lawyers make up a growing ecosystem in Silicon Valley. Dozens of Pakistani-American founded start-ups have been funded by top venture capital firms. Many such companies have either been acquired in M&A deals or gone public by offering shares for sale at major stock exchanges. Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN) has become a de facto platform for networking among Pakistani-American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. It holds an annual event called OPEN Forum which attracts over 500 attendees. OPEN Forum 2014 is scheduled for Saturday, May 10, 2014, at the Santa Calra Marriott.

Putting it in context of the global Pakistani diaspora, there are 5 million to 6 million people of Pakistani descent living outside Pakistan, making up the world's 7th largest diaspora . Of these, the US alone has 410,000 Pakistanis , according US Census 2010. California state has 47,000 Pakistanis, about a quarter of them in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley Pakistanis are enabling the 2nd Machine Revolution which is expected to be similar in scope and transformational impact as the First Machine Revolution, also known as the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century.
Second Machine Revolution: Silicon Valley is driving the second machine revolution which is similar in global scope and transformational impact as the First Machine Revolution, also known as the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. Much of Asia and Africa, including what constitutes Pakistan today, were left behind and colonized after the last industrial revolution that was driven by inventions like the steam engine and the printing press. This time, however, Pakistanis are in the forefront of the current machine revolution, contributing to the exponential growth in high-tech enabled by semiconductor technology as predicted by Moore's Law, named after Intel founder Gordon Moore.

Here are a few examples of how doubling of computer chip densities every 2 years is changing the world: \
1. Smartphones are now as powerful as huge mainframe computers of a decades ago. Pakistani-American chip technologists at Intel (Microprocessors) and other companies (SoC chips) have contributed to it. Intel (Riaz Haq) , AMD and Raza Microelectronics (Atiq Raza), OpenSilicon (Naveed Sherwani), Muhammad Irfan (Whizz Systems).
2. Ability to communicate 24X7X365 is now taken for granted around the globe. Pakistani-Americans at Intel (Ethernet), Cisco (routers, switches) and other companies have driven it. Intel (Sikanadar Naqvi), Cavium (Raghib Husain), Wichorus (Rehan Jalil), VPNet (Idris Kothari, Saeed Kazmi), Cisco and PLUMgrid (Owais Nemat)
3. 3D vision is enabling computer games (XBox Kinect) and self-driving cars. Pakistani-American Nazim Kareemi's Canesta's 3D chips have made these possible.
4. Cloud Computing is supplanting WinTel era PC computing, enabling much more mobile work using small portable devices like smartphones and tablets. Many Pakistani-Americans are making it happen.
Fireeye (Ashar Aziz), vIPTela (Amir Khan), Elastica (Rehan Jalil)
Moore's Law on Exponential Growth Personal Computer Revolution Intel (Riaz Haq), VIA Technologies (Idris Kothari, Saeed Kazmi), SandForce (Sikandar Naqvi), AST Computers (Safi Qureshi in Irvine)
Communications Revolution Intel (Sikanadar Naqvi), Cavium (Raghib Husain), Wichorus (Rehan Jalil), VPNet (Idris Kothari, Saeed Kazmi), Cisco(Khali Raza, Owais Nemat, Raghib Husain), PLUMgrid (Owais Nemat)
Cloud Computing Fireeye (Ashar Aziz) , vIPTela (Khali Raza, Amir Khan), Elastica (Rehan Jalil)
Big Data Oracle (Sohaib Abbasi), Obama Campaign (Rayid Ghani)
Artificial Intelligence Canesta (Nazim Kareemi)
Education: Khan Academy (Bilal Musharraf, Ali Hasan Cemendtaur), Chegg (Osman Rashid)
Consumer Apps Streetline (Zia Yusuf), Kiwi (Omar Siddiqui)
Business Apps Convo (Faizan Buzdar), Infonox (Safwan Shah), Vertical Systems Inc (Saeed Kazmi, Idris Kothari)
TV Entertainment HBO Comedy Silicon Valley (Kumail Nanjiani), Jadoo TV (Sajid Sohail), Triple-Oscar-Winning Computer-generated Imagery (CGI) for Hollywood hits Frozen, Life of Pi and The Golden Compass (Mir Zafar Ali).
Venture Capital Sequoia Capita (Aaref Hilaly), CMEA Capital (Faysal Sohail, Saad Khan), Alloy Ventures (Ammar Hanafi), ePlanet Ventures (Asad Jamal).
Positive Media Coverage:The mainstream media and the tech press have noticed the contribution of Pakistani-Americans in the Valley. I was recognized in 1980s by the PC magazine as a person of the year award given to the Intel 80386 microprocessor design team. More recently, there have been positive stories about Pakistani-American entrepreneurs in Forbes and other publications. A Forbes story recently acknowledged that Pakistan is among a dozen countries which are birthplaces of some of the most successful Silicon Valley companies funded by Sequoia Capital, a top venture capital firm credited with early investments in Cisco and Google. Another recent article called Silicon Valley Pakistanis a "model minority" .

 

Pakistani Diaspora World's 7th Largest

Moore's Law Source: Wikipedia

 


Brand Pakistan: Unfortunately, Pakistan has a serious branding problem in the world. Its name conjures up images of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. This problem has to be addressed by Pakistanis in Pakistan. The Pakistani diaspora, however, can try and balance the negative coverage by highlighting the good things happening in Pakistan. Stories such as a Karachi slum girl going to Harvard , a 12-year-old taking advanced MOOC courses in Lahore , the country's rising urban middle class , and Pakistani diaspora making important contributions in places like the Silicon Valley . I make an effort to do it through my blog Haq's Musings . I hope others will support this effort by sharing it with others.
Here's a video of a recent presentation I made at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business on Pakistani-Americans in Silicon Valley:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VZSUo4jH3w
A PDF version of my full presentation at University of Chicago Booth Business School is available on PakAlumni WorlWide


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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