Questions / Answers with Hadi Partovi on the start of, on IE at Microsoft, on what he is looking for among founders of startups and on the teaching of computers in schools


Part of the challenge for me living in Iran was that all my family, apart from my parents, my father and my brother, had left and fled the country, and we stayed there. The reason we stayed was that my father had founded the University of Technology there and he said, "The country is going through this whole ordeal, but if the education system breaks up, who knows what will happen?"

When are you interested in technology?

My dad started teaching us on a programmable calculator when my brother and I were 8 years old. And the next year, he brought a Commodore 64 home. In Iran at the time, there was nothing fun to do. There was no Xbox, no PlayStation, no internet. We had a TV channel; it was propaganda. There was no sport at school. So for us, this computer was an escape from a horrible life situation. It was really the only good thing we have in our life.

How did you come out of Iran?

To get permission to leave, my father had to promise the Minister of Education that he would come back – that he was not taking his family away forever. He was like, "I give you my word. I come again. And when we arrived in America, the first thing he did was say, "All right. I will go back there. You can stay here.

My mother said, "What are you talking about? We are done with this country. And he said, "I just want to go for a year or two because I gave my word, and then I'll join you. "So we spent a year or two in America with our father living in Iran, only because he wanted to stay true to his word.

Tell me about your arrival in the United States.

We were not easy at all. Our family could not afford a house. So we all lived in a room in my grandmother's house and in a bed, which is hard to do at age 12. My parents worked three times, but they spent all their money on our education. This left an imprint on the importance of education. Education is the first thing you should invest in.

Many of your family members have also been successful in the technology sector. How do you explain that?

Entrepreneurship is in the blood of my family. My grandfather and all his brothers founded a great company together almost 100 years ago. It was called Alborz Corporation, and it was one of the largest industrial enterprises in Iran. They started as a trading company and imported goods, but then all the most popular imported goods started to be made locally, in partnership with the original producer. Then, the whole society was kidnapped by the government as part of the revolution. So, growing up in America, we had the desire to efficiently recover the money that our family had lost.