Shervin Pishevar is an Iranian entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and super angel investor. He 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, HyperOffice.
An American citizen of Iranian descent, Pishevar was awarded an Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2016, and in 2015, he was appointed by Barack Obama to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. He was chosen by the U.S. Government as an Outstanding American by Choice in 2012. He is a member of the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council, and has served as an entrepreneurial ambassador in state department delegations to the Middle East and Russia.
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. Abraham Pishevar moved to the United States after he was placed on Ayatollah Khomeini’s execution list for broadcasting instructions on leaving Iran for foreign nationals. He became a cab driver in Silver Springs, Maryland, where he was joined by his family 18 months later. While driving the cab, Abraham Pishevar, who already held a Master’s degree, 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 magnet school. As a science project, he began researching Magainin peptides, and later, while majoring in molecular cellular biology at UC Berkeley, he received a Presidential Fellowship to continue the study. In 1996, he co-authored an article in Journal of the American Medicine Society which helped lead to the Istanbul Protocol, the first set of international guidelines for documentation of torture.
As a senior at Berkeley, Pishevar founded and served as Editor-in-Chief of Berkeley Scientific, the first peer reviewed undergraduate research journal in the United States. He completed more than a year of graduate courses in health economics at the Berkeley School of Public Health.
1997-2005: WebOS, Seges Capital, Ionside Interactive, Application Corporation
Rather than go into a medical profession, Pishevar decided to become an entrepreneur and at 23 founded WebOS, the first company to create cross-browser windows-like interfaces for the internet, establishing the concept of a Web-based operating system. In a 1999 article in the Financial Times, Pishevar called WebOS “disruptive technology,” and 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 co-founded Seges Capital, an offshoot of the Vanderbilt University Technology Company (VUTC), the venture arm of Vanderbilt University’s $2.5 billion endowment fund. In addition to fundraising for Seges, Pishevar helped manage 17 investments in early stage companies. Also in 2001, Pishevar 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 Pocket PC, Pishevar led the product development on several software titles. Additionally, Pishevar co-founded Application Corporation, which created the HyperOffice messaging and groupware suite.
2005-2011: Webs, Inc., Social Gaming 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 Capital, Webs became one of the largest social publishing communities. He resigned his position in 2008 and continued to served on the company’s board of directors until 2012.
Pishevar founded the Social Gaming Network (SGN) in 2008. Raising $15m in Series A funding from investors including Greylock Capital Management, Founders Fund, Bezos Expeditions, Columbia Capital and Novak Biddle Venture Partners, SGN was acquired by MindJolt in 2011. Pishevar has been a member of the SGN 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 72.4x MoM returns of approximately $5 billion (on paper) 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 and Brogan BamBrogan co-founded Hyperloop One, formerly Hyperloop Technologies. Sherpa Capital led the first investment round for the company, raising $37 million. BamBrogan exited the company in July 2016.
As as an angel/seed investor, Pishevar has invested in over 60 companies, including Aardvark, CabanaApp, Cherry, Gowalla, Milo, Kissmetrics, Klout, LikeALittle, RapGenius, Rapportive, Rixty, SolveMedia, Taskrabbit, Tello, Postmates, Votizen and Qwiki.
Awards and recognition
Pishever was awarded an Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2016. In 2015, he was appointed by Obama to the J. William Fulbright Foreign 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 United States 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.
Activism, political fundraising, and philanthropy
In April 2016, a fundraising event to benefit Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign was hosted by George and Amal Clooney at Pishevar's home. He was a top fundraiser for both of Obama's presidential campaigns.
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. Additionally, he initiated the OpenMesh Project, an organization designed to create an ISP system in Egypt that could turn laptops into low-cost Internet routers.
Pishevar lives in San Francisco. He has two children, Cyrus and Darya, whom he has raised as a single father.
|Build.org||Board of directors|
|Cue Health||Board member|
|Define American||Board of trustees|
|Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board||Board member|
|Getaround||Board of directors|
|Hyperloop One||Board of directors|
|Illuminate the Arts||Board of directors|
|Machine Zone||Board of directors|
|Pill Pack||Board observer|
|Webs.com||Board of directors|