Naseeb Apna Apna…

Posted on August 11, 2006
Filed Under >Bilal Zuberi, Pakistanis Abroad, Society
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By Bilal Zuberi

What is common to My Space, Facebook, Friendster, Del.icio.us or Six Apart?

These are all one form or the other of a new internet phenomena: Social Networking. These websites have managed to attract millions of people daily, and have made hundreds of millions of dollars for their 20+ years old founders, the geek elite of the Silicon Valley. Social networking, like blogging, is a relatively new phenomenon inBack to Main Page the internet space, yet it has blossomed like nobody’s business. But where is the Pakistani presence in this e-community? Well…while I am somewhat familiar with the above-mentioned websites, no other website has been recommended on more occasions by personal friends and acquaintances than Naseeb.com – the Pakistani and Pakistani-American hangout place on the internet.

So what is Naseeb.com?

Simply put, Naseeb.com is an online community of Muslims, many of whom happen to be of Pakistani descent. It is a brainchild of Monis Rehman, a serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur who also founded Eid Mubarak.com. The website provides the following information about its goals:

Naseeb.com is an online community that connects young, educated, professional Muslims through networks of friends. The site provides a safe, discreet, and trusted environment for meeting other people with similar backgrounds.

Naseeb.com is for people who are single, people who are married, and anyone who wants to make new friends or help their friends meet new people. The site can be used for personal, social, and business networking.

Through Naseeb, members can find out about local events, get great values at member-owned businesses, resonate their identity through our vibrant e-zine, and proactively gain the attention of the kind of people they would like to meet.

The website has gained immense popularity in the youth, especially the young men and women, as a place to make new friends and to — err yes — find their potential soul-mates. I learnt about this ‘MuslimÃ¢à ‚¬â„¢ social networking site a few years ago via chain e-mails, and have since then observed several friends become rabid fans and committed members. Not only do many vouch for their ability to find new friends and people to hang out with on Naseeb (online or in person), one friend (let’s call him Rana) also found his bride on a Naseeb Village. He likes to say his Naseeb, or destiny, took him to this website (and to his future bride, who was in Canada at the time).

Naseeb is a small player in the social networking space, but it has captured a niche that I find particularly interesting and unusual. When I was still in graduate school I used to hear often from friends how difficult it was for them to find new friends when they relocated for study or work (especially in the US). Naseeb helpd make it a little easier for Pakistanis to find other Pakistanis in their neighborhood. This is not to obscure the fact that Naseeb also fulfils a role that is otherwise lacking in communities where young men and women are living away from their immediate families, i.e. providing a place for young men and women to meet to find their soul-mates. As controversial as it may be, some have even called it the Halal equivalent of MySpace. Naseeb.com seems to have provided just the forum for people to meet others individually or in groups with shared interests and/or backgrounds. I have surfed around the website long enough to see exactly how it could provide such a gathering ground for young people. A member can maintain Journals, use it for e-mail, read or write gossip columns, or even maintain his/her own villages (i.e. communities of interest).

So what’s so muslim about it? Aside from membership demographics, Naseeb has also carefully used muslim iconography to create an environment familiar and comfortable for muslims to chat and learn about each other. If you are hesitant to put your picture up, you can use an icon of a Pakistani-looking guy with a moustache or a muslim girl with a Hijab. You can send “Salaams” instead of just smily faces, and the administrator retains the rights to censor posts for language and pictures. As Ramo Feenah of EGO magazine writesBeyond that, the community determines itself. As is so typical, people band together according to their tastes. You can join discussions of a Surah, “Sex and the City,â€Â? or just how to interpret the prohibition on charging interest.” My own profile on Naseeb tells me that even though I have only 2 friends, I am connected to 880 other people. wow!

Naseeb is an interesting online experiment and it would be useful to see any data that the web administrators may have gathered over the years. Websites are no longer a place just for information gathering and sharing. They are fast developing into virtual worlds in which personas of real people live and mingle. How are websites like Naseeb affecting the way Pakistanis meet other Pakistanis? Is geography still a barrier? and how are we sharing our experiences with each other? and of course finding our life-partners?

Dr. Bilal Zuberi is Vice President of Product Development at GEO2 Technologies in Boston (MA) USA. See more at Bilal’s blog: BZNotes!

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7 responses to “Naseeb Apna Apna…”

  1. M.Tahir khan says:

    Tell Latter

  2. Bilal Zuberi says:

    Naseeb is in the news again….This time they have raised a new round of funding, led by ePlanet Ventures. See the press release below. It is always great to see Pakistani entrepreneurs and companies doing well.

    Naseeb Networks, a Pakistani consumer Internet company, has raised an undisclosed amount of VC funding from ePlanet Ventures. Naseeb provides such services as online recruitment, social networking and classifieds for the Pakistan market.

    PRESS RELEASE

    ePlanet Ventures, the world’s leading global venture capital firm headquartered in Silicon Valley, California, announced an investment in Pakistan’s leading consumer Internet company Naseeb Networks (“Naseeb”). Naseeb provides online recruitment, social networking, classifieds and related services in Pakistan. The round was led by ePlanet Ventures ( ePlanet) with Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) participating, pursuant to which Ayaz ul Haque, Managing Director at ePlanet and Mohanjit Jolly, Director at DFJ have joined Naseeb’s board of directors. Naseeb will use the funds to accelerate its growth and leadership position in target markets by investing in sales force and marketing expansion and enhancing its product portfolio.

    “We have seen strong growth in user metrics and financial receipts across our portfolio of online services,” said Monis Rahman, Founder and CEO of Naseeb Networks. “This funding round provides growth capital and domain expertise from two clear leaders in global venture capital, which will enable us to further dominate our target markets and seize emerging market opportunities.”

    “We’re excited about the progress and momentum that Monis and his team have achieved in the market,” said Haque. “Naseeb Networks, through its portfolio of Internet properties and revenue generating brands including Naseeb.com, ROZEE.PK and RingPakistan.com, is a leader in a market that is poised for considerable growth. Our investment in Naseeb will help the Company build upon its commanding position.” He added that, “The Company’s business model is consistent with ePlanet’s global replication emphasis and represents a unique investment to capture the inflection point in Internet growth in Pakistan.”

    Commenting on the occasion, Asad Jamal, Chairman and CEO of ePlanet Ventures, said, “We have been closely monitoring developments in the Internet sector in Pakistan for a long time, and we believe it will soon experience a wave of explosive growth. As such, we are delighted with the opportunity to invest and work with Naseeb, to grow it into the leading consumer Internet company in the region.”

    Naseeb Networks operates a portfolio of websites including ROZEE.PK and Naseeb.com. ROZEE.PK is Pakistan’s largest and fastest growing job portal. The site has delivered over 1.4 million applications to jobs posted by 8,800 employers. ROZEE.PK is used by some of Pakistan’s most sought after employers to recruit human capital, including Mobilink, Nestle, Oracle, McDonalds, United Bank Limited, Microsoft, GlaxoSmithKlein, Engro Foods, Mentor Graphics, Teradata, Proctor & Gamble and others. ROZEE.PK offers employers recruiting solutions including placement of online job ads, access to powerful CV search engine technology, online recruitment workflow management tools and white-labeled corporate job portals.

    The company’s flagship Internet property, Naseeb.com, offers matchmaking and social networking services for the Pakistani and Arab diaspora communities. With over 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide, Naseeb.com has achieved a leadership position in a huge market. The site’s features include blogging, instant messaging, photo and music sharing, and an innovative algorithm that matches members based on common cultural norms.

    Commenting on the market opportunity, Rahman said, “Pakistan’s current Internet penetration is around 7.5% compared to India’s 4.5%. With over USD $500 million recently invested here in broadband and WiMAX infrastructure, we are projecting Internet penetration to increase to around 16% over the next three years. We will leverage our leadership position to generate cross traffic for other key online services for the benefit of Pakistan’s vibrant Internet community.”

    Naseeb Networks, which has been cash flow positive since 2004, has 42 employees across its offices in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and San Jose and a management team transplanted from Silicon Valley.

    ABOUT EPLANET VENTURES

    ePlanet Ventures is a leading global venture capital firm headquartered in Silicon Valley, with international offices in London, New Delhi, Bangalore, Singapore, Shanghai, and Beijing, as well as a presence in Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo. ePlanet Ventures has funded over 80 innovative high-growth companies world-wide, including landmark deals Baidu (NASDAQ listing in August 2005, presently circa. US$12B market cap), Skype (sold to eBay for approx. US$3B in 2005), and Focus Media (NASDAQ listing 2005, presently circa. US$6B market cap). ePlanet is one of the leaders in promoting the cross-border migration of technological innovation, business models and entrepreneurship. The Firm has made investments in sectors such as the Internet (consumer Internet, Internet services and applications), wireless communications and applications, VoIP and other broadband services, entertainment, semiconductor design, life sciences and other emerging services sectors. ePlanet also seeks to make investments in traditional, established industries where business-model improvements have the power to create category-dominant companies in the world’s fastest growing markets. The firm has won the China Venture Capital Association Exit of the Year 2005 for Baidu, and the European Venture Capital Association Deal of the Year 2005 Award for Skype, and has been profiled in FORBES Feb. 2007 as a ‘Pioneer in Global Venture Capital.’

    ABOUT NASEEB NETWORKS

    Naseeb Networks provides leading community, communications and e-commerce services to underserved Internet markets. The company currently enjoys a leadership position in its target markets including online recruitment ( http://www.rozee.pk ), social networking ( http://www.naseeb.com ) and classifieds related services for Pakistan and its associated diaspora community.

    The company commenced operations in 2003 with a seed round from angel investors including founders and executives from Paypal, LinkedIn, Excite and Cisco. Naseeb Networks has been profitable since 2004 and currently has 42 employees at offices in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and San Jose.

    Naseeb Networks was founded by Internet entrepreneur Monis Rahman in 2003, when he returned to Pakistan to start the company after a 10 year stint in Silicon Valley. Rahman began his career at Intel Corporation where he was awarded several patents for his innovative work on the Itanium microprocessor. He went on to co-found eDaycare which was acquired by ParentWatch in 2000. Rahman has a B.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Wisconsin ? Madison and did graduate coursework at Stanford University.

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