Saiyed Atiq Raza
Immigration to US:
Saiyed Atiq Raza has overcome discrimination at management levels to succeed as a business leader and an engineer. He left Pakistan for the United States as one "among the earliest generation" of South Asians immigrants to influence Silicon Valley. Raza first worked in America at VLSI Technology, where he soon became a general manager. At "his first meeting with senior executives, he says the others kept looking at him in a way that suggested that Raza might have lost his way and entered the wrong room." He contends that engineering talent alone could not bring success to one's industry endeavors during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Rather, gaining the acceptance of one's American peers required much "courage and determination," as one had to mask one's Indus origins by interacting with others and expressing oneself more smoothly.
That desire to belong propelled Raza forward. He cofounded "microprocessor company" NexGen Microsystems Inc. with Thampy Thomas in 1986, and served as NexGen's chief executive until Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) acquired NexGen in 1996 for $615 million. Raza ascended AMD's corporate ladder to the role of President and Chief Operating Officer while effecting a "sea change in employees attitudes". His "cajoling and prodding them to" collaborate on AMD's K7 chip led to a product which observers view "as the first real attempt by AMD to take on Intel Corp."
"'Personal reasons'" led Raza to resign from AMD in 1999. He later attributed his departure to his aim to pursue "more opportunities outside of AMD" by advancing the state of "communication pipes and electronics" through which electronic entertainment and business flow. Raza declared the formation of Raza Foundries, Inc. in May 2000, a firm which supports "entrepreneurs in the high intellectual property, high-barrier-to-entry broadband networking and communications marketplace" by becoming involved in the endeavor's engineering as well as its administration. Unlike business "incubators," which usually provide funding and administrative resources to Web-based ventures, Raza's "communications investment company" also has its own experienced engineers assist startups in solving "deep technical questions".
At least one industry observer appreciates Raza's innovation: Vinod Khosla praised Raza Foundries as "one of the few incubator models that I like". Raza Foundries had stakes in 14 companies as of October 14, 2000, and Raza himself continues to lead Raza Foundries, Inc.
Beyond Raza's involvement in his own company, he also serves as a board member for technology companies SiByte, Inc. and for iCompression, Inc. Raza stands among TiE's charter members, a group of "successful veteran entrepreneurs, corporate executives and senior professionals who have reached a stage in their professional life when they are ready, willing and able to contribute to fellow members."
Saiyed Atiq Raza's spirituality resembles a hybrid faith of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity into his life. One mathematics teacher introduced Raza "to Gautama Buddha and the Mahabharata. Both Buddha and the Hindu religion made profound impressions on his life". Raza feels "most inspired by" Mohandas Gandhi and Jesus Christ, and 'the New Testament resonated whatever was good in me.'
'I get the greatest satisfaction in unraveling foggy technical details, he says, but I never want to lose my ability to go from the highest level of technique to (that of) business.' On Raza Foundries: "'We start with a chick, not an egg, and we raise it into a chicken and eventually turn it into a [excuse the mixed metaphor] racehorse.'" On building companies: "Visionary leadership is the key in the early days". In response to "So you are going to become a venture capitalist, and fund new companies?": "More than just a venture capitalist who invests his money, I want to be a venture catalyst--someone who not only invests money, but also is actively involved in the management of these companies."