Nigel 🥑🍺🏃
Mar 16 · 5 min read

Atta Elayyan A Great New Zealander

On Friday we lost many great New Zealanders and I lost a friend.

Atta a Great New Zealander

Atta Elayyan to me was one of those people that you are lucky to meet in your lifetime. He was a genuine leader, talented designer and inspiring entrepreneur.

I remember the first time I met Atta in Christchurch while he and Mike were working for a small company and moonlighting building apps for Windows phone in the evening. Atta and Mike built MetroTube for Windows phone (at one point the most popular app on the store). Google refused to support Windows phone with an official app and Atta built what I consider the best YouTube app on any Mobile platform.

I supported Atta to follow his passion to start his company Lazy Worm Apps. Atta didn’t need much help he was hungry and took every opportunity that was presented to him. He failed quickly when the environment changed around him but marked every milestone with taking everyone who helped him on the project out for dinner. He ran summer programs for students looking for work experience, contributed greatly to the tech community in Christchurch and around the world. Atta partnered with us to work with Universities to inspire and support some of the best and brightest young minds out of Christchurch and Jordan (where I introduced him to the local Microsoft team). At one stage Atta spent a month in Jordan running a three week design workshop for Jordanian students.

In eight years, he grew the company from nothing, leveraging the small amount of payments that he was getting for his apps and no external investment to employee 14 people. He was recognised last year in the top 100 CIO’s in New Zealand please watch this video of him that we created in 2012 that was shown during the keynote of Microsoft Ignite. You will see his passion coming through. Atta had that rare blend of engineering and design. His strength was understanding people and building user interfaces that worked best the way that we do. He wanted to build consumer apps that delighted people and attempted to reach as many people as possible. He didn’t want to sell users to advertisers or build platforms that prayed on people’s needs to pay for the best experiences. Instead he poured everything into the software he created, made it available for free without ads or tracking data and then invited people to pay if they liked the experience. He started with mobile apps and moved to augmented and mixed reality environments. Here is a talk that he delivered in 2015 that details his design thinking.

I am proud to work for a company that lives it’s values of empowering every person on the planet to achieve more and Atta was certainly one of those people. Atta was a friend who gave so much to everyone that knew him. What he achieved in his short life is more than most. Reseller news posted a nice tribute to Atta and Syed Jahandad Ali.

Atta raised to the top of everything he applied his energy to, he took risks, he was unafraid of failure and he failed often, yet he was humble and believed in collaboration over competition in everything he did.

There was a tribute to Atta by the global community of MVP’s that travelled to Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington for the MVP summit.

Atta’s drive to mastery also took him to the top of the NZ indoor soccer competition where he represents NZ as the goal keeper in the NZ national futsal team. His teammates talked about what Atta meant to them on NZ national news.

Atta also became interested in pursuing a career in technology from participating in competitive gaming in Counter Strike: Source (read about his professional gaming career).

Less than two weeks after his death Atta and Lazy Worm Solutions has been recognised as a finalist in the most innovative Hi-Tech Creative Technology Solution at the NZ Hi-Tech Awards for their continued virtual reality work with the ports of Auckland.

LWA Solutions is a finalist in the 2019 NZ Hi-Tech Awards

Victor Yuen (head of product at FaceMe) also wrote an incredible tribute to his friend Atta, their time together at Christchurch Boy’s High School and his love for cars .

My thoughts are with Atta’s father that survived the shooting and with his wife Farah and two year old daughter Aya who will miss out on growing up with her father who helped so many others. Please donate to the family. Atta is only one story. There are 49 similar stories and many more from those whose lives have been changed forever by this act of terrorism. Thank you to Abdul Aziz a true hero who risked his own life to save the lives of many more innocent NZers.

There is a hole that has opened up inside me that will take time to heal but instead of hate we must stand together, encourage diversity and integration.

Atta’s friend Benjamin Tan who works with Dick Frizzell dedicated the sales of their Kia Kaha Christchurch shirts to donate 100% of proceeds to Atta’s family. The shirt sold out with 800 t-shirts sold.

Ben Tan Tshirt Design proceeds going to Atta’s family 800 shirts sold.

Listen to Atta’s wife Farah, his brother Abdallah and his sister Haneen tell their story to the New York Times of how they were feeling that night in the hospital when they couldn’t find Atta and his father and how they reminisce about Atta’s life.

The New York Times helps to tell Atta’s story

The Economist have also written a great obituary on Atta. It captures his hunger to lead, to learn, to play and to pray.

Watch prime minister Jacinda Arden’s speech during the Christchurch memorial service.

Watch Yusuf Islam’s powerful performance of Peace Train during the memorial service.

My niece Greer and her Kapa Haka group felt moved to performed a waiata for Atta and his family.

Kia Kaha

اتَّكَلْنا منه على خُصٍّ الاتحاد قوة


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Nigel 🥑🍺🏃

Written by

Fail fast & fold the future back Software engineer working for Microsoft commercial software engineering across Asia from Aotearoa