Iranian-American diaspora after Iran’s revolution played a notable role in world of technology, especially in the U.S.
Renowned scientists such as Professor Ali Javan, who was the first to propose the concept of the gas laser in 1959 and Professor Lotfi Zadeh, who was best known for proposing fuzzy mathematics with undeniable applications in technology, economics, education, construction and many other multi trillion dollars industries. Maryam Mirzakhani; the first woman to ever win the Nobel Prize for Mathematics to Anousheh Ansari, the first female space traveler, Pierre Omidyar, eBay founder; Dara Khosroshahi, Uber CEO; Sassan Goudarzi, Intuit CEO and many others; are all belong to the Iranian- American community that according to the Iranian American Contribution Project database and Wikipedia, are among the highest-educated people in the United States.
Decoding Silicon Valley, showcases some of the successful Iranian entrepreneurs and VCs working in technology and examines their key to success. The series boasts viewership of 5–6 million young Iranians and is available to download for free. Decoding Silicon Valley offers an exciting inside look at Farsi-speaking Iranians working in tech and is produced by IranWire. IranWire is a media outlet focusing on citizen journalists, enabling a community of young Iranian journalists with a place to discuss local and global news in one place.
The first 25 minutes episode of the Decoding Silicon Valley video series features Mavatar co-founder and CEO, Susan Akbarpour along with other Iranian-American tech figures. Akbarpour discusses shifts we’ve seen in work culture in Silicon Valley versus old, outdated methods of working. She also discusses the best mix of Iranian culture and family values which center around education and hard work with those of her adopted country. She believes that these practices morph with Silicon Valley’s culture of sharing, transparency and tolerance that has led to all of the accomplishments that we are witnessing coming from this community.
Akbarpour explains how transparency led to new forms of incubators, accelerators and open platform workplaces in the valley where multiple companies share space and resources without the fear of giving away their secrets. “The workplace is really your second home; I’m spending over 10–12 hours of the days here, so it’s not fair to go to a depressing and isolated place everyday.” Collaboration even beyond the border of your own company, bring-your-pup-to-work days and working outside of traditional work hours are all part of startup life for Iranians like all other tech gurus experience as a way life in Silicon Valley.
There are thousands of young Iranians who want to better understand the key to success of their expatriots and how their fellow expatriates are navigating the fast-paced space in Silicon Valley: the utopia of entrepreneurship for millions of innovators around the world . The series goes beyond living and working in technology and also aims to, “to highlight the importance of the values that bring about the success of technology companies in this habitat. Values such as: appreciating failure, tolerance, transparency and sharing, and the important role of minorities, especially women and immigrants in shaping Silicon Valley,” according to the site.
Recently Intuit announced its CEO is stepping down and will be replaced with Iranian Sasan Goodzari. Goodzari’s current role focuses on QuickBooks Online, which primarily serves the self-employed and small businesses. Goodzari’s global insight is expected to serve him well as he takes on the top position at a company with several well-known technologies. Born in Tehran, Goodzari said, “It was an amazingly tough childhood that shaped a lot of what I am today. It shaped me in terms of being a dreamer and also in appreciating diversity.”
The TechCrunch piece discussing Iranian Dara Khosrowani, who served as CEO of Expedia and now serves in the same outpost for Uber. “Venture capitalist Pejman Nozad, who was practically penniless and unable to speak English when he moved to the U.S. from Iran in 1992, says that neither Khosrowshahi’s success, nor that of his extended network, should come as a shock to anyone who knows how Iranian families tend to operate — putting family and friends first, followed closely by a dedication to study, particularly of math and science.”
Shortly after moving to Uber, WIRED interviewed Khosrowani, who said, “When you’ve lost everything, and my family really did lose everything, you learn that loss is a part of life.” It’s this ability to regroup and persevere that makes Iranians ideal for an ever-shifting industry filled with highs and lows.
IranWire is sure to give young people an honest and fresh look at the movers-and-shakers working in Silicon Valley to develop new technologies and elevate well-known products as they take on new leadership roles.
Watch the first episode here.