Shervin Pishevar is an American entrepreneur, venture capitalist, angel investor, researcher, and startup advisor. The author of three patents and a published researcher, Pishevar is the co-founder and executive chairman of Hyperloop One and a co-founder and managing director of Sherpa Capital, a venture capital fund which has invested in companies including Airbnb, Uber, and Munchery.
As an angel investor, Pishevar has seeded more than 60 companies. He was previously a managing director at Menlo Ventures, where he led investments in Warby Parker, Tumblr, Machine Zone, and Uber Series B. He is a strategic advisor to Uber, and served as a board advisor to the company from 2011-2015. He founded and operated technology-enabled companies including webs.com, WebOS, SGN, and HypeOffice.
Early life and education
Shervin Pishevar was born in Tehran, Iran, the son of Abraham
Pishevar, a television and radio executive, and Eshrat (Kordary) Pishevar, a
teacher. 1979, just prior to the start
of the Iranian Revolution, Abraham Pishevar was placed on Ayatollah Khomeini’s
execution list for broadcasting instructions on leaving Iran for foreign
nationals. In danger, he escaped to the United States, where he became a cab
driver; his family joined him 18 months later in Silver Spring, Maryland, just
north of Washington, DC. While driving a cab, Abraham Pishevar, who already
held a Master’s Degree in Mass Communications from Catholic University in DC, studied for and received a Ph.D. in Mass
Communication at Howard University.
Encouraged by his parents to pursue a career in medicine, Pishevar attended Montgomery Blair High School, a math and science and communications magnet school. As a science project, he began researching magainin peptide, and later, while majoring in molecular cellular biology at UC Berkeley, he received a Presidential Fellowship to continue the research. In 1996, Pishevar independently invented a new method for lysing Malaria-infected red blood cells; Berkeley filed a patent on the discovery, and Pishevar – then 19 – was credited as the sole inventor. The same year, he published an article linking gluccocortinoids treatments to seizures in Neuroscience Letters, and at 20, the Journal of American Medicine published a seminal article Pishevar co-authored that helped lead to the Istanbul Protocol, the first set of international guidelines for documentation of torture. It became a UN official document in 1999.
While a senior at Berkeley, Pishevar founded and served as Editor-in-Chief of Berkeley Scientific, the first peer reviewed undergraduate research journal in the nation. He graduated in 1998 with a BA in Interdisciplinary studies, and completed more than a year of graduate courses in health economics at the UC Berkeley School of Health.
1997 – 2005: WebOS, Seges Capital, Ionside Interactive, Application Corporation
Rather than go into a medical profession, Pishevar decided to become an entrepreneur and founded his first company, WebOS, when he was 23. WebOS (myWebOS) was the first company to create cross-browser windows-like interfaces for the internet and pioneered the concept of a Web-based operating system. As CEO, Pishevar assembled a team of leaders in the WebOS space, including Erik Arvidsson, Dan Steinman, Dan Saverise and Dr. Amin Vahdat. The company raised over $10 million in capital from Adam Dell's Impact Venture Partners and Grotech Capital, among other investors. In a 1999 article in the Financial Times, Pishevar called WebOS “disruptive technology,” and rightfully predicted that it would change the dominant distribution of channels for software. In the same article, Pishevar was described as “Bill Gates’ worst nightmare.”
In 2001, Pishevar helped co-founded Seges Capital, an offshoot of the Vanderbilt University Tehcnology Company (VUTC), the venture arm of Vanderbilt University’s $2.5 billion endowment fund. That same year, he co-founded Ionside Interactive, and served as the company’s President, Director, and head of Product, Business Development and Sales. Creating an advanced 3D graphics and AI engine for the PocketPC, Pishevar led the product development on several software titles, including Argentum, now one of the best selling games of all time for the PocketPC platform. Argentum won several awards, including Computer Shopping Magazine’s Top 100 Products of 2002. Additionally, Pishevar co-founded Application Corporation, which created the Hyperoffice messaging and groupware suite.
2005 – 2011: Webs, Inc., Gaming Social Network, Mozilla
In 2005, Pishevar was named Founding President, COO, and Board
Member for Webs Inc. (formerly Freewebs). Raising $12m for the company from
Novak Biddle and Columbia Capitol, Webs became one of the largest social
publishing communities in the world. As of 2013, it had over 40 million members
and was ranked as a top 150 internet site by Comcscore Media Matrix. Pishevar
resigned his position in 2008, but served on the company’s board of directors
until 2012. Pishevar founded the Gaming Social Network (GSN) in 2008. Raising
$15m in Series A funding from investors including Greylock Capital, Founders
Fund, Bezos Expeditions, Columbia Capital and Novak Biddle Venture Partners. A
leading social and mobile gaming company, GSN was acquired by MindJolt in 2011.
Pishevar has been a member of the GSN board of directors since 2010. In 2010,
he was appointed chief application officer and GM at Mozilla Corporation.
2011-present: Menlo Partners, Sherpa Capital, Uber, Hyperloop
In 2011, Pishevar joined Menlo Ventures, a venture capital fund with over $4billion under management. A managing director, he focused on the social web, consumer internet, and mobile areas. He led the Series B Uber investment, and became a board advisor to the company in 2011. Pishever served on the board or worked closely with companies including Machine Zone, Fab, and Warby Parker, and led Menlo's investment in Tumblr. Pishevar also helped launch the Menlo Talent Fund, a $20m seed fund which invested in more than 35 seed stage companies.
In 2013, Pishevar left Menlo Ventures to start Sherpa Capital with Scott Stanford, formerly the co-head of Goldman Sachs' Global Internet Investment Banking division. A venture capital company as well as an incubator and start-up advisory, Sherpa Capital investments have included Uber, Airbnb, Munchery, ipsy, Shyp, Stance, Rent the Runway, Beepi, PillPack, Doctor on Demand, and Cue Health, among others. The company closed a $154 million fund in July 2014, and in July 2016 raised $470 million for two new funds. In an article on the 2016 fundraise, Fortune reported that Pishevar had generated (on paper) $5billion on $66.2 million in VC investments.
In 2014, Pishever responded to Elon Musk's challenge to build a hyperloop, which Musk presented in a whitepaper titled Hyperloop Alpha. In late 2014, Pishevar co-founded Hyperloop One, formerly Hyperloop Technologies. Sherpa Capital led the first investment round for the company, raising $37 million.
As as an angel/seed investor, Pishevar has invested in over 60
companies, including TaskRabbit, Cherry, Postmates, Klout, Voxer, Aardvark
(sold to Google), BlackJet, Dollar Shave Club, Cherry, Branchout (advisor),
Talent House, Gowalla (sold to Facebook), Milo.com (sold to eBay), Milk (sold
to Google), Rapportive (sold to LinkedIn), Likealittle (LAL), Qwiki, Votizen,
Yobongo (sold to Mixbook), SpruceMedia, Medialets and SolveMedia.
Pishevar was awarded three patents: US Patent # 7,155,490 (System and method for providing a web-based operating system);
US Patent #6,384, 015 (Selected lysis of Malaria-infected erythrocytes) and US
Patent # 7,085,825 (Apparatus,
method and system for improving application performance across a communications
Awards and recognition
Pishever was awarded an Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2016. In 2015, he was appointed by Obama to the J. Wlliam Fulbright Scholarship Board, and in 2012, he was chosen by the United States Government as an “Outstanding American by Choice,” an award which recognizes the achievements of naturalized Americans. He is one of 10 members of the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council, and served as Entrepreneurial Ambassador on several US Department of State delegations to the Middle East and Russia. Pishevar was a keynote speaker at President Obama's Summit on Entrepreneurship in Algeria, and was a member of the Technology, Media and Telecommunications policy working group that helped create the Obama Technology and Innovation Plan in 2008.He was one the 15 leaders in technology who met with President Obama in 2013 to address issues including unauthorized intelligence disclosures, healthcare.gov, and the US government’s information technology.
He was a Presidential Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley,
IRTA Fellow at the National Institutes of Health and Summer Research Fellow at
M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center.
Activism and philanthropy
Pishevar is an advocate of the Startup Visa Act, which would
create a new type of two year visa available to immigrant entrepreneurs. He is
one of the creators of StartUpVisa.com, a website which provides information
and builds grassroots support for the legislation. In 2011, Pishevar testified
in favor of startup visas at a hearing held by a subcommittee of the House
Judiciary Committee. Additionally, Pishevar is involved with the philanthropies
Invisible Children and charity:water, and has traveled to Africa to volunteer
with the organizations. Pishevar also announced the $100,000 Cyrus Prize for
talented Iranians- the first Cyrus Prize will be awarded in 2014.
Pishevar has two children and lives in San Franciscis. His brother, Afshin "AP" Pishevar is an attorney and his sister, Dr. Bita Pishevar-Haynes, is a clinical