In 1993, there were only 130 websites present on the World Wide Web. Less than .04% of the world’s population was using the strange technology that was the Internet, and far fewer were actually developing web applications for it. Yet it was that year that Shervin Pishevar, now a prolific entrepreneur, venture capitalist and angel investor, sketched out his first business plan for the first web-based operating system. Twenty-five years later, well over 1 billion websites live on the World Wide Web, and more than 50% of the world’s population uses the Internet. Pishevar’s early adoption of the Internet as a platform for business is what propelled him into a wildly successful career in the tech industry. He’s built successful web companies from the ground up. He’s made angel investments to startups that are now worth billions of dollars. Now, his popularity in the tech industry is nothing short of rockstar status. He was even chosen by the US government as an Outstanding American by Choice and selected as an Ellis Island Medal of Honor award winner.
Shervin Pishevar’s extraordinary accomplishments have been the topic of discussion for years among tech professionals, but Shervin credits his humble upbringing for his success thus far.
Striving For The American Dream
Shervin Pishevar and his family immigrated to the Unites States in 1976 from Iran. With the dangerous Iranian Revolution looming, Pishevar’s father decided to take his family to the US so that he could pursue a master’s degree. Pishevar reflects on that period of time as something that played a major role in shaping the man he’d eventually become. He understood the sacrifices that his parents were making for him and his siblings.
In an interview, he said of his parents: “The least we could do for them was study. I wanted very badly to make them proud.”
In his young years, Shervin Pishevar was a determined student who loved to study and learn. He studied molecular cellular biology at the University of California-Berkeley. At just 20 years old, he published a study that found that many Turkish physicians were complicit in torture cases by ignoring, misrepresenting and omitting evidence of torture on detainees in postdetention exams. His work helped lead to the Istanbul Protocol, which banned physicians from being involved in torture of any kind.
Although he showed promise as a medical student, Pishevar found inspiration in becoming an entrepreneur one day when he visited a computer lab. While doing research on the library’s database, he realized that the Internet had the ability to reach millions of people. He decided that by using the Internet as a platform to disseminate research and ideas, he’d be helping many more people than he would if he became a doctor.
Entering The Tech Industry
During his senior year at UC-Berkeley, Pishevar already had a high-paying job, but had come to the realization that his calling was to become an entrepreneur. To his father’s dismay, he quit his job and began working on his business plan for WebOS, which would be the first web-based operating system. He spent his nights working as a security guard, using his downtime to type out his business scheme on his laptop. During the day he’d work with his co-founder, building the program in his garage. His WebOS project eventually grew to be worth millions, but the experience he gained through this early endeavor seemed to be more valuable to him than the money he raised.
The Dotcom Crash of 2000 stifled Pishevar’s WebOS business, but his efforts spawned HyperOffice, an online collaboration suite that is a cash-flow positive, multi-million dollar revenue business to this day.
A Silicon Valley “Superconnector”
Shervin Pishevar has explained that he’s not focused on money, but is more interested in connecting talented groups of people to drive innovation. To him, money is a vehicle through which people are given the opportunity to use their brilliance to create new things that make the world a better place.
Pishevar says: “Money is not that important to me personally, although it is absolutely important from the perspective of building a business. If I can build a $100 million gaming company, then my capacity to build global pools of talent and transfer knowledge around the globe becomes greater. That to me is more important that money.”
That’s probably why he’s raised hundreds of millions in venture funding for startups around the world and has been known to move mountains for the startups that he invests in.
In 2011, Pishevar began working as Managing Director of a venture capital firm with over $4 billion under management. There he helped fund numerous consumer internet and social web companies such as Tumblr, MachineZone and Fab, while also serving on the board of advisors for many of the companies he funded. One of his most popular projects during this time was the work he’s put in with the innovative ride-sharing company, Uber Technologies. After helping Uber with their first round of investing, Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick sought out Pishevar’s partnership in their Series B investment campaign. Shervin also agreed to serve as Strategic Advisor for Uber and was a Board Observer there from 2011-2015. Other companies he’s helped get off the runway are Shakr, Cinemagram, TaskRabbit, Getaround, Dollar Shave Club, Klout, and many others.
The “Superconnector” title comes from his ability to create bridges between investors, innovation, talent and consumers. Pishevar has helped create a pipeline between Hollywood moguls like Ashton Kutcher, Scooter Braun and Troy Carter, and Silicon Valley startup companies and entrepreneurs. Troy Carter, who is Lady Gaga’s manager, told Forbes: “You have to have the patience of Job to be able to navigate those two worlds… He’s a trusted bridge for a lot of people.”
Advocating For Entrepreneurs
Pishevar knew that his influence could be used in the political arena to make an impact worldwide. He became close with former President Obama while he was in office and was instrumental in getting the Startup Visa Act in front of congress. This was a bill that would have granted visas to international entrepreneurs who has gained enough capital to establish a business in the US. Although the act did not pass, Pishevar’s work did not go unnoticed.
He has received prestigious awards from the U.S. government for his foresight into future technology and his devotion to creating new business opportunities, investment opportunities and jobs in America. In 2012, he was chosen for the Outstanding American by Choice award for his professional achievements despite his unfavorable circumstances as a child. Similarly, in 2016 he won the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which awarded him for his personal and professional achievements as someone who immigrated to the US.
Driving Future Innovation
Don’t expect Pishevar’s story to end here. He has recently worked on an idea originally presented by Elon Musk called Hyperloop One– a hyper-speed transportation system that could theoretically get you from Los Angeles to Denver in an hour and a half. Whether or not that comes to fruition remains to be seen, but Pishevar continues to be the guy you want in your corner.