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New Zealand's tech community mourns the loss of two members in the Christchurch shooting

It is often said that New Zealand is a place of only two degrees of separation. That rung true for the local tech community following the news that Lazyworm Applications co-founder and CEO Atta Elayyan and Intergen senior dynamics developer Syed Jahandad Ali were among the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack on Friday. Many from the industry here and further abroad, including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, have paid their respects to the pair, while Givealittle pages have been set up to help support their families. 

Syed Jahandad Ali

Described as a kind and gentle man by many, Syed Jahandad Ali joined Intergen's Christchurch team in 2012 and worked as a lead developer for the company. He was said to have deeply touched the lives of his friends, colleagues and wider technology community through his knowledge and skills. 

Intergen CEO Simon Bright paid his respects to Ali on LinkedIn, writing: "I am very sad to share with you that our highly respected and much loved colleague Syed Ali has lost his life in the terrorist attack which took place on Friday at Masjid Al Noor, a Mosque on Deans Avenue in Christchurch.

My deepest sympathies and thoughts are with Syed’s family, his wife Amna and their children, his friends and co-workers. I’m finding it hard to comprehend why anyone would want to take this kind of action and I stand with the rest of our nation and the world in expressing my sadness and repulsion at such a senseless act.

At Intergen, we are proud of our cultural diversity. We hold dear our values of acceptance, tolerance and openness. I am proud to be working in a company where people care and stand against hatred of any kind. My thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted by this tragic attack. Our hearts are with each of you, your families and your friends."

Syed is survived by his family: his wife, Amna, and their children, Meesha (4), Aisha (2) and Mohammad (6 months old). To help support Amna and her children following his passing, the Intergen team has set up a Givealittle page where donations can be made here. So far, $625 has already been donated. 

Atta Elayyan

Elayyan is described as a loving father and husband, passionate technologist, loyal friend, and beautiful human. Along with being a goalkeeper for the national and Canterbury men’s futsal (indoor soccer) teams, 33-year-old Elayyan was an accomplished entrepreneur who'd been spending the last nine years growing his start-up, Lazyworm Applications, which delivered apps for Microsoft platforms.

He was responsible for delivering the iconic Windows Phone app, Metrotube. He launched LWA Solutions in 2012, which acted as the services arm of Lazyworm Applications and designed apps for companies like Microsoft, Trade Me, Mediaworks, Ports of Auckland, Silver Fern Farms and the Middle East's largest courier company, Aramex. He was also recognised as one of the top 100 CIOs in New Zealand in 2018. 

"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," principal software engineer at Microsoft New Zealand, Nigel Parker, wrote

"He ran summer programmes 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.

Parker points to a video from a Microsoft Ignite keynote in 2012 that shows Elayyan's rare talent of being able to blend engineering and design on display.

 "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 wrote.

Elayyan's father was with him at the shooting, but survived. His wife Farah and two-year-old daughter Aya are being supported through a Givealittle page, where over $56,000 has been donated. Donations can be made here

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella paid tribute to the pair on Twitter on LinkedIn, writing: "Hate and violence have no place in our society. We mourn all the victims of the horrific attack in New Zealand including Atta Elayyan and Syed Jahandad Ali, who were part of our Microsoft MVP and partner communities. Our hearts are with the victims’ families and loved ones."

Editor's note: Elayyan and Ali are just two of the 50 victims of the Christchurch shooting we have chosen to focus on due to their close ties to the tech community, which we cover at length here at Idealog. The full list of those who were injured or killed in Friday's attack can be found here. Donations can be made to all victims via the Christchurch Shooting Victims' Fund page on Givealittle here.

If you're a business owner who's feeling a bit lost, sad or helpless the wake of the Christchurch terror attack, here's several ways you can help your staff, as well as the wider Muslim and Christchurch community, get through the next week. You can also call or text 1737 to talk to a trained counselor.

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