In the ‘Hot seat’ with Mahdi Yahya, CEO of Ori Industries
1. What’s your name and where do you come from?
Mahdi Yahya, Ori Industries
2. Give us a quick overview of your company and what it does.
We are building the next generation of cloud computing infrastructure. We allow application developers to seamlessly access thousands of edge computing resources. Highly available and geographically distributed over wide-area networks, powering a future that is smart, immersive and autonomous.
3. What’s the next big idea that nobody is thinking about yet? Why is this so important?
A realtime interstellar communication network. Nobody is thinking about it because nobody needs it yet, but it’s so important to allow our colonies to communicate. An intergalactic extension of the cloud and all the marvellous infrastructure we have on Earth today.
4. Looking back to the day you founded the company, what is the one thing you wish you had known before starting off?
I wish I had done the learning I have been doing in recent months about software architecture. No matter how much knowledge you might have, always assume you know nothing.
5. How do you define success for you / your company?
The way we use digital applications is fundamentally going to change, so is the infrastructure that will power this change. I will consider us successful when we directly or indirectly contribute to the delivery of every application in the world.
6. What behaviour or personality trait do you most attribute to your ability to achieve what you have achieved so far?
I’m incredibly uncomfortable in my comfort zone, so I’m continually looking for ways to expand it. This creates an infinite loop that is constantly pushing me to learn more and produce more.
7. What’s your top idea to improve diversity in the workplace?
Ask Melissa to do it.
8. What is the best advice you have ever been given and by whom?
If you’re going to skin an animal, make sure the knife is sharp enough. It’s less painful for both of you – My grandfather.
9. What was the most useful resource (networks/books/websites/blogs) you used when starting out?
Dostoyevsky’s Idiot has always been my companion, I learnt about life journeys from Henry Kissinger’s biography by Niall Ferguson. Citizen Kane by Orson Welles made me think and rethink for a long time. Moliere’s Misanthrope, Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Idea & Stanislavki’s Building A Character taught me about humans. Feynman’s lecture on Computer Heuristics and TS Elliott’s Four Quartets taught me the art of explaining complex ideas in simple forms. Boris Johnson’s The Dream of Rome showed me that whether its 100BC or 2019, politics are always driven by one thing. And finally, Casper David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above The Sea of Fog when I need to think straight.
10. What is the single most important thing you’ve done to increase the value of your business?
Constantly and periodically raising the bar across all verticals.
11. What has been the hardest decision you’ve had to make in your entrepreneurial journey?
Firing everyone and closing down a revenue-generating business to pursue a much bigger idea.
12. What will be the biggest change to how we lead our lives in 15 years?
One thing that worries me is that a significant change is occurring in the way we consume information and knowledge. In 15 years, knowledge will become ever more disposable.
13. Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I sometimes pretend that I am Lebanese.
14. If you could be offline for 3 days where would you go and what would you do?
Building fires, roasting lambs, fishing, and clay baking the catch with Francis Mallmann in Patagonia.