Ever wondered what you could make on that cool new laptop with knowledge, vision and a ton of hard work?
Meet Omar Hamoui, the former CEO of AdMob, a company whose focus was mobile advertising and was purchased by Google for $750 million dollars in November 2009. AdMob was one of the pioneers in mobile advertising, an area that focuses on the advertising mobile phone users see when they browse websites designed specifically for their mobile phones. AdMob was hugely successful, receiving many awards such as The Mobile Premier Award and “Hottest Silicon Valley Companies” by Lead411 in 2010. Omar Hamoui was also named one of the Top 15 Mobilize Influencers of 2010. Omar Hamoui left Google in late October 2010, and continued pursuing creative new ventures independently and through his company, Churn Labs.
What makes Hamoui remarkable is his fearless spirit to do things different. In the above posted video of Hamoui addressing UCLA’s Muslim Student Association (“MSA”), he discusses doing things differently:
Ultimately if you look at a lot of people who are different and do things that are outside the norm , they do things that are outside the norm. If your plan is to do something different, you actually have to do different things. Most people want to be different but they are unwilling to go through the process of doing somewhat crazy things.
In the video, Omar Hamoui explains that as an undergraduate he attended UCLA and was a Pre-Med and Engineering double major as a Freshman. He changed from Pre-Med to Engineering and had to explain the change to his family. Eventually Hamoui’s path would lead him to University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, which he left in 2006 to start AdMob. AdMob was born out of Hamoui’s frustration at the expensive cost of mobile advertising for a program he developed in 2005 called Fotochatter.
Hamoui wasn’t afraid of going it alone. When AdMob was funded by the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, he was driving solo – one man with his laptop. As Hamoui advises: “If you are a person with a laptop and an idea, don’t worry about messing up the 100m dollar business you think you will someday be.” According to Jim Goetz, a senior partner at Sequoia, “[Hamoui] ignored the carriers, he ignored the ‘walled garden.’ When he started, there was no economy around mobile. It was the inception of this market. He’s a special entrepreneur, and he built an extraordinary business in a short time.” His business acumen was bulwarked by his fearlessness. He was unafraid to try new things and fail. Hamoui had tried 7 different start-ups since 1998 before AdMob. That is dedication.
Hamoui also believes in staying true to one’s beliefs. In the MSA video he discusses staying true to Islam by keeping his promises as a businessman, although it meant foregoing some very lucrative deals. He also discussed his principal of not drinking alcohol in an environment where everyone else is drinking. When asked what instituions Muslims need most and are lacking right now, Hamoui pointed to Islamic endowments or waqif, non-profit funds that are designated for specific purposes such as education, for example.
Among Hamoui’s recent investments are Gigwalk, Card.io, and Offermatic. One of Hamoui’s latest venture is Churn Labs, an incubator of creative ideas that developers come up with when left to their imagination. One of his latest apps is called Gnonstop Gnomes, in which cute gnomes can be dragged and dropped between phones.
Hamoui’s story is inspirational for all people who aspire to be entrepreneurs, but especially for those young people who are technologically forward thinking. If you have an idea that you think can help improve the world around you, explore it – you never know what may come of it if you do.