Meet Zia Chishti, the US-born Pakistani who founded two billion-dollar companies

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Zia Chishti was born to American-Pakistani parents and returned to his mother’s native land after the death of his father. He is now known as the founder of two billion-dollar companies.

According a profile published by The Tribune, Zia may not have been born in the country but he was certainly raised by it.


Today Zia is CEO and chairman of the board at Afiniti, the company that recently closed its Series-D fundraising round earlier this year at a $1.6-billion private valuation and is now up for an initial public offering (IPO), says the report.

“My initial intuition was that I would become a business person right out of high school in Pakistan. [But] she [his mother] was quite persuaded that I needed to go back to the US and get a good college education. So in 1988 I returned and started college in New York City,” he is quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Zia obtained a BA degree from Columbia University and his MBA from Stanford. This was followed by a job at Morgan Stanley, in the mergers and acquisitions side.

Idea aligned

According to the report, he envisioned the idea of Align Technology, the first of his eventual unicorns, out of his dorm room. He was motivated by the pain he suffered through a course of orthodontic treatment in his early twenties.

Align, the medical device technology company that he led from startup to over a $1 billion valuation on the NASDAQ stock market, was eventually steered to a valuation of over $18 billion. However, this turned out to be only beginning his journey.

People magazine then listed him among the top 50 bachelors in the US alongside Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, as well as golfer Tiger Woods.

Today, TRG Pakistan has a 57 percent stake in TRG International – the offshore company – that in turn owns stakes in most of the subsidiaries including Zia’s next big project that is up for the IPO.

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