Amer Deeba, a Silicon Valley veteran, just became the CEO of Normalyze, a company that he founded with Ravi Ithal. Normalyze is a cloud data security platform that helps companies secure their digital assets with the touch of a button. Deeba is well-known in Silicon Valley and sought after for this creative and customer-first approach. Dubbed by Forbes as the ‘rare executive’, only the sky is the limit for this entrepreneur. But who is Amer Deeba?
Deeba came to the United States in the hopes of a better life, after escaping the civil war in Lebanon. His story is the personification of the American Dream. Deeba has gotten to where he is today through a strong work ethic, an unwavering belief in himself, and sheer resilience. Long before Forbes dubbed him a ‘rare executive’, Deeba was only a student on a one-flight to a foreign land, with $800 and a dream.
Now based in San Francisco, CA, Deeba was born and raised in a quaint little town in South Lebanon, called Marjeyoun. This idyllic town became the site of conflict during the Lebanese Civil War. The war lasted for fifteen years and resulted in 120,000 deaths. When war came too close to home, Deeba’s mother was forced to put him in the trunk of a taxi so that he could find refuge in Beirut. He was only eight years old when the war started. Being exposed to conflict at such a young age left a lasting impact on his psyche.
“As chaotic and crazy as it was to grow up in a war zone, it gave me a great perspective on life. My experience taught me it’s important to be decisive and to trust my judgment. It made me prioritize life-long learning and hard work. I have always been willing to stretch beyond my comfort zone to grow personally and professionally,” he told Forbes.
Though the war robbed him of a normal childhood, it set him on the path of having a life that most adults can only dream of.
After receiving a degree in electrical engineering from the American University of Beirut, Deeba was admitted into Santa Clara University for a master’s in computer science. He recalls how fascinated he was with everything but also the longing he felt for his family and country in the early days. “I remember getting on 101 and seeing all these big green highway signs and everything was so exciting,” Deeba shared. However, within six months Deeba was completely consumed by his new life. There were classes to attend and jobs to apply to. It was during a summer job that Deeba realized he wanted to work in the field, and the rest became history.
Deeba’s career is twenty years strong. His first job was at Verity, after which he joined Adobe Systems, where he worked on Adobe Acrobat. He briefly worked for VeriSign after which he joined Qualys. Deeba spent the better part of his career working at Qualys and helped the company gets its initial public offering and then public listing. After Qualys, he worked for Moogsoft for two years. Today, alongside being the CEO of Normalyze, he is also advising CyCognito and Monad Inc.
While he can be called a self-made man, Deeba could not have achieved all of this on his own. He credits his parents for instilling in him the pursuit of excellence and the importance of education. Not only that, but even during a conflict, his parents gave him a loving childhood. His guru through the maze that is Silicon Valley was Philippe Courtot. A lifelong friend and mentor, Deeba met him while working at Verity. Courtot quickly saw the untapped potential in a young Deeba. Courtot would push him to take on tasks that were outside his line of work as a coder, introducing him to the business side of IT. “He started pulling me into customer meetings and product management work. He felt I understood customer needs and communicated well with them,” said Deeba.
Courtot taught him how to design and build a platform, deal with competitors, market a product, scale a business, and most importantly, how to do things the right way and not the conventional way. The last skill has allowed Deeba to differentiate himself from the competition and make an identity for himself.
Deeba’s customer-centric approach is what won him the trust of Normalyze’s funders. When Normalyze came out of stealth, they had secured $22.2 million in Series A funding. It later received more funding, bringing the total to $26.6 million. The funders knew that Deeba’s customer-centric approach will lead to a truly successful product simply because it would have been designed to resolve the most urgent data security problems faced by customers. Deeba says the idea for Normalyze came to them talking to Chief Information Security Officers. “The actual inception of Normalyze began when we heard what working Chief Information Security Officers had to say about what challenges keep them up at night, with cloud data security being one of the most repeated concerns,” he told Ideamensch.
The revolutionary platform is the object of praise of every DevSecOps team. Corelight selected Normalyze as the primary security platform, which is huge since Corelight is the global leader in network detection and response technology. Normalyze is currently scaling business rapidly. It already has more than 25 employees based in the United States and India. It has also 40 patent claims, of which four have already been filed.
It is unreal to think that Deeba was once a child whose attention was captivated by the transformative power of technology after learning about Silicon Valley through a James Bond movie back in the 1980s. “I felt like this industry was my calling. So I thought: okay, that’s what I’m going to do,” he said. Deeba has not only pursued his dream but also greatly excelled in his field. His life is full of inspiration for those chasing their dreams.