Sunday, August 16, 2015

Pakistan Independence Day 2015 Celebration in Silicon Valley

Pakistani-Americans in Silicon Valley and wider San Francisco Bay Area celebrated Pakistan's 69th Independence Day this year with several events in different cities and communities in the region. I was invited to speak at Pakistan Flag Raising event at Milpitas City Hall. The event was organized by Pakistani-American Cultural Center. It was attended by the city mayor, a city councilwoman and hundreds of Pakistani-Americans, including women and children.  In addition to speeches, the event featured Pakistani music, poetry, food and colorful outfits with a lot of green visible everywhere.

Audience at Pakistan Independence Day Photo Courtesy of Nasreen Aboobaker

The Milpitas event began with the raising of Pakistani and American flags followed by the singing of the two national anthems. Mr. Asghar Aboobaker, the founder of Pakistani-American Cultural Center (PACC-CA) in Silicon Valley, talked briefly about Pakistan's founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the creation of Pakistan followed by an introduction of the PACC organization and the distinguished guests in attendance.

Audience at Pakistan Independence Day Photo Courtesy of Nasreen Aboobaker

Next speaker was Riaz Haq who focused on the contributions of Pakistani-American community in Silicon Valley in terms of technology and entrepreneurship. He described the importance of the August 14 date for both Americans and Pakistanis. Pakistan emerged as a new independent nation on this date in 1947, and the Japanese surrendered to the American forces two years earlier on this date. Both events saw a lot of blood spilled. "It's time for celebration but it's also a time for reflection", he said.

Riaz Haq at Pakistan Independence Day Photo Courtesy of Nasreen Aboobaker

Riaz Haq described how the valley looked 35 years ago when he arrived by talking about his own personal story of the development of the Intel 80386 processor. The PC Magazine published a picture of the 80386 design team with 6 design engineers-all except Riaz Haq were white. The valley has changed so dramatically since then that the minorities now have become the majority.

Intel 80386 Design Team. Source: PC Magazine 

Riaz Haq talked about the role of Pakistani-Americans in driving Moore's Law (number of transistors on a chip double every 18 months) to support the exponential growth in the compute power of the AI machines to enable the "Second Machine Revolution".  He specifically mentioned several public companies founded by Pakistani-Americans: Align Technology (using 3D imaging/printing "Invisalign" braces for orthodontics), Chegg (online textbook rental), Cavium (security processors) and Fireeye (cloud security). In addition, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of companies founded by Pakistanis which have been acquired by larger tech firms for their technology.

The fact that Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans have "arrived" is confirmed by HBO series "Silicon Valley" that features a Pakistani-American actor Kumail Nanjiani playing a Pakistani-American technology entrepreneur.

A patriotic Pakistani-American dressed in a green outfit with crescent and star sang Dil Dil Pakistan. It was followed by poetry and the serving of Pakistani food.

Dil Dil Pakistan at Pakistan Independence Day Photo Courtesy of Nasreen Aboobaker

Pakistani-Americans numbering in tens of thousands in Silicon Valley joined the Pakistanis this Aug 14 2015 in the home country to celebrate the national Independence Day with great enthusiasm and deep fervor.  Here's a video of Riaz Haq's speech at the event:

Riaz Haq Speaking on Pakistan Independence Day... by ViewpointFromOverseas

Here are longer 32-minute videos of the event:

Pakistan Independence Day 2015 in Silicon Valley by ViewpointFromOverseas

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Silicon Valley Pakistanis Celebrate Eid

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Pakistani-American Stars in HBO Comedy Silicon Valley

Pakistani-American Pioneered 3D Computer Imaging in Orthodontics

Pakistani-American's Fireeye Goes Public

Pakistani-American's Chegg Goes Public


I. Singh said...

..Indian and Pakistanis should mix at least in foreign countries as they come from the same region. I have never found an Indian and a Pakistani forming a company together in Silicon Valley. Unfortunately both Indians and Pakistanis carry their enmity to foreign countries too. I also have rarely found Indians and Pakistanis mixing in tech conferences or tech get togethers in US and any other third country.

Riaz Haq said...

I. Singh: "..Indian and Pakistanis should mix at least in foreign countries as they come from the same region. I have never found an Indian and a Pakistani forming a company together in Silicon Valley. Unfortunately both Indians and Pakistanis carry their enmity to foreign countries too. I also have rarely found Indians and Pakistanis mixing in tech conferences or tech get togethers in US and any other third country."

I know Cavium and Chegg were co-founded by Pakistani and Indian co-founders together. I know a Pakistan CEO Atiq Raza hired Indian VP Vinod Dham at NexGen which was later acquired by AMD where Atiq Raza became President. I'm sure there are more examples of such collaboration.

Riaz Haq said...

Osman Rashid, co-founder and former CEO of textbook rental service Chegg, as well as Intel-acquired interactive textbook platform Kno, is announcing his next startup, Galxyz.

The idea is still related to education, but otherwise it sounds like a pretty big departure. Galxyz (it’s pronounced “galaxies”, and it’s a nightmare to spell) is building a science-focused game for tablets and smartphones. And the company really is just focused on one game — Rashid described it as “an intergalactic science adventure,” one that kids could potentially play for years, battling a villain called King Dullard across the galaxies. As they do so, they’re also learning about science at their own pace.

Apparently the idea came to Rashid as he saw his own children playing educational games, which he found lacking in several ways. He said they weren’t engaging enough, the content wasn’t deep enough, or they required the parents to get involved in order for the kids to advance. That second point is why he’s focusing on a single title — so that kids can just keep playing rather than running out of material after a few weeks.

Rashid also said that the gameplay will be integrated with the actual learning. In other words, players don’t read a bunch of material, then play a generic game that tests them on their knowledge. For example, he said that to help kids learn about gravity and related concepts in one of the early mini-games, players will actually have to use different forces to defeat their enemy.

The content is designed to support the upcoming Next Generation Science Standards, and the company has partnered with the New York Academy of Science to test the game out over the summer, with the full launch planned for September.

The game is supposed to be playable by students from 3rd to 12th grade. Rashid said the real target audience is 3rd through 6th grade, but he added, “We don’t have the concept of grade — we have the concept of levels.” In other words, the game never asks players for their grade level. Everyone starts in the same place, then the more advanced students should be able to pass through the early stages of the game more quickly.

The initial release will be aimed directly at consumers, with the goal of eventually creating versions for schools too. The business model is still being figured out, Rashid said. He did assure me that even though he doesn’t want parental approval to interrupt gameplay, it will be the parents who have make any purchases (which is part of the business challenge).

Galxyz is backed by Relay Ventures, Andresseen Horowitz, and Emerson Collective.

Sam said...

Congrats to Pakistani contributing to Silicon valley

Wasn't aware founder of Fireeye was a Pakistani

Riaz Haq said...

Sam: "Wasn't aware founder of Fireeye was a Pakistani"

Fireeye was founded by Karachi-born Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz, a computer security expert with lots of published research and patents.

Riaz Haq said...

#PakistanIndependenceDay Parade in #Edison #NewJersey a display of pride in their heritage and #America via @njdotcom

The Pakistan Day Parade started on Oak Tree Road in Edison on Sunday and ended at the Pakistan Day Festival in Woodbridge.

Hundreds marched in the parade or rode on one of the 13 floats.

"The parade shows we are part of the same flag, that we are Americans," said Sam Khan, president of the parade committee.

Many cars and floats were decorated with American and Pakistan flags.

JJ said...

Sir, can you write a post about your own family history and how you migrated from India to Pakistan? What difficulties did your parents and relatives go through? It looks like you might be from Bihar or UP or even Bangladesh? Did some of your relatives die during partition? Have you ever had a genetic test done? I like reading your blog and am curious about how past events in the subcontinent affected migrants. I notice that younger generations of Indians and Pakistanis are becoming less extreme when interacting with each other, but older generations who saw all the havoc are still unforgiving!

Riaz Haq said...

JJ: "I notice that younger generations of Indians and Pakistanis are becoming less extreme when interacting with each other, but older generations who saw all the havoc are still unforgiving!"

Younger generation of India strongly backed HIndu hardliner Narendra Modi in most recent elections electing him PM of India by a landslide. Modi's party BJP has been compared with the racist bigoted hateful Ku Klux Klan in America and Modi has been likened to a KKK wizard by very pro-India and anti-Pakistan American analyst Christine Fair.

JJ said...

Actually, Modi got 30-35 percent of the vote. Not a landslide. In any case, I hope you write more about your and your family's history in India and your migration to Pakistan.

Ramesh said...

KKK, wow, I never knew that they ran a US state as a political entity, let alone country. Well you learn something every day.

Do you agree with everything Ms Fair says, even about your beloved country.

Are you missing riots in India since May 26 2014, which is what was predicted by (anal)yst like you if Modi comes to power.

Riaz Haq said...

Ramesh: " KKK, wow, I never knew that they ran a US state as a political entity, let alone country. Well you learn something every day."

That's what so sad....Although KKK dominated some state legislatures, Americans never elected KKK to lead America but Indians did elect BJP (Sangh Parivar), the Indian version of KKK to lead India. It just confirms the World Values Survey that Indians are the most bigoted people in the world.

Riaz Haq said...

Read the following facebook post of Justice Markandey Katju on the popular support of criminal political parties of India:

Criminal Organizations
I regard the Congress and the BJP as criminal organizations.
In 1984 that criminal gangster Indira Gandhi, who imposed a fake ' Emergency' in 1975 in India in order to hold on to power after she had been declared guilty of corrupt election practices by the Allahabad High Court, an ' Emergency' in which even the right to life was suspended, and lacs of Indians were falsely imprisoned, was assassinated.
As a reaction,the Congress Party led by Rajiv Gandhi organized a slaughter of thousands of innocent Sikhs, many of whom were burnt alive by pouring petrol or kerosene on them and setting them on fire. When there were protests against this horrendous crime, Rajiv Gandhi said ' jab bada ped girta hai, dharti hil jaati hai' ( when a big tree falls, the earth shakes ). It is believed that he gave oral instructions to the police not to interfere with the massacres for 3 days ( see my blog ' The Sikh riots of 1984 ' on )..
Soon after these horrible massacres, elections to the Lok Sabha was declared, and Congress swept the polls on this emotional wave winning a record 404seats in the 532 seat Lok Sabha, while BJP won only 2 seats.
In 2002 the massacre of Muslims was organized in Gujarat by BJP led by our friend ( see my blog ' All the Perfumes of Arabia ), and the result was that BJP has been regularly winning the Gujarat elections ever since, and has even won the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
So the message which has been sent is loud and clear : organize massacre of some minority in India, and you will sweep the polls. Never mind how much misery you cause to many people.
Are not the Congress and BJP, and even many smaller political parties, which are responsible for horrible deeds and for systematically looting the country of a huge amount of money for decades, and for causing such terrible sufferings and misery to the people, criminal organizations, most of whose members deserve the gallows ?

Riaz Haq said...

Can #Pakistan be the next #SiliconValley? #Technology via @TECHREVIEW_PK

The consummate failure of 24 government-led incubators gave Israeli policymakers a pause. This was 1991. Over the years, hundreds of startups were seeded with up to $300,000, hardly any went successful.

Israeli Chief scientist Yigal Erlich — the founding father of the country’s venture capital industry and one of the most prominent figures in the high-tech arena in the past 15 years — later reportedly said: “Every year I reviewed the success of these small companies. It was disappointing. They may have succeeded at research and development (R&D), but most never became growing companies.”

He concluded that the public sector, lacking venture capital training, wasn’t suited to build proper support and management structures entrepreneurs actually needed. Elrich went on to conceive the now-legendary Yozma program (Hebrew for ‘initiative’).

Under Yozma, the government earmarked $100 million for 10 venture capital funds, including one seed-stage fund. Each fund had a mix of Israeli venture capitalists in training, a foreign venture capital partner and a local investment company or bank. The government injected $8 million for every $16 million raised, retaining 40 percent stake in each fund. And here was the kicker; if the fund was successful, the government would sell its stake to partners at a heavy discount in five years. The government took on the risk but gave away most of the reward. It was a great deal.

Between 1992 and 1997, Yozma funds raised $200 million. And as stipulated, most of these were privatized within the set period. By the time Yozma ended, Israel was second only to the United States in terms of private equity capital invested as a share of the gross domestic product (GDP). Today, there are 70 venture capital funds in Israel; 14 being international funds with an Israeli office. This is a very healthy per capita number — Israel’s population is eight million. Yozma has been dissected and iterated on by the likes of Japan, Australia, South Korea, Ireland, Russia, Singapore, and Taiwan. It’s a rock star program.

But till the home conditions are ripe, a program like Yozma cannot be mindlessly copied and expected to succeed. For instance, most Israeli startups target multibillion dollar American market segments. In contrast, most Pakistani startups are shut out from the greater regional market, and the local verticals they focus on are not well-established. We’re basically cornered, relegated to the back of the pack. But can we jump the queue? China provides a clue.

Stanford professor and China expert Chuck Eesley notes how the Chinese government routinely facilitates new entrepreneurs to grow within state-dominated industries, enabling them to land government contracts, incentivizing mergers and acquisitions, and providing tax incentives for high growth entrepreneurial firms. Essentially, Chinese entrepreneurs are being fast-tracked through established local industries the government can assert control over.

The Lead for Pakistan
The Pakistan government can achieve something comparable by channeling local entrepreneurs into industries it fully or partially controls, for example defense, healthcare, ports, oil and gas, education and governance. These are robust segments. Some big successes can be seeded on their back, making international venture capital sit up and take notice. One can even align the goals of industry officials involved in those of entrepreneurs via instituting financial incentives for the said officials. China does it too, and thus keeps corruption from bubbling over.