by Victor Yuen

A tribute to my friend Atta Elayyan

Mar 20, 2019
Artificial IntelligenceAugmented RealityCareers

Your design nous shone through from an early age and you took that to new heights with your work at LWA Solutions Victor Yuen, FaceMe

Atta Elayyan was an exceptional person.

He was recognised in the CIO100 in 2017and2018 for his achievements with LWA Solutions.

If you didn’t know him then, you know him now.

The outpouring of support and messages has been incredibly overwhelming and his impact on our communities cannot be understated.

He started LWA Solutions nine years ago with Mike Choeung.

I remember the early days of hard graft and as they tried to find the magic formula.

We had such excited conversations about Metro design and the work that they were doing on the Windows platform.

He will be remembered by the tech community as an inspiring entrepreneur, mentor and beloved personality.

In this tribute to him, I hope I can share a different perspective. It is just one more side of a rich and full life that Atta lived.

Atta Elayyan, 33, was killed during the mosque shootings in Christchurch


That’s how I’d describe how I’m feeling about you right now.

I’m proud to see the number of hearts and minds you’ve touched. I’m proud of your achievements and I’m proud of your heroic actions at the mosque.

Most of all, I’m proud to have known you and called you my friend.

You know I think, besides one other, you’re my longest standing friendship. We’ve some brilliant memories together over the years.

When we were at Christchurch Boys’ High School, I remember the football games we had on the tennis courts backing onto Kahu Road. The chain link fences, the concrete courts and the backpacks we used as goal posts.

I remember the friendly rivalry we had in graphics class – you, Andy (Andy Au Yeung) and I jostling for top marks in any assignment and the architecture project that was the pinnacle of our time there.

Your design nous shone through from an early age and you took that to new heights with your work at LWA Solutions.

He will be remembered by the tech community as an inspiring entrepreneur, mentor and beloved personalityVictor Yuen, FaceMe

I remember that time you convinced Andy and I to skip school and go play Counterstrike at the internet cafe in Riccarton.

We had just gotten in your old 1990 Legacy GT to drive off when Ms Pears walked out the door and yelled at us.

Do you remember her saying “You could have died!” when she found out I was going to drive your car?

Of course you dohellip; you always poked fun at how it was the one time that Andy and I did anything outside of the rules and the one time we got detention in our whole time at the school.

‘The Legacy GT that got me in trouble’

Most of all though, there is one thing that really stands out for me about our time at school, it was on a break between classes and I recall we were in the quad outside when a fight broke out between two students. Other boys had gathered around and were watching the drama unfold.

But not you.

You got in between them and broke it up.

I remember hoping that one day, I too could be as courageous as that and step in and do what’s right.

You inspired me to stand for others.

You and I gamed a lot together. I loved your trash talk and it didn’t matter whether you were winning or losing. The trash talk came and there was no end to the laughter and joy that you brought to our LAN parties. You sure brought the fun to the party!

Thinking back, you never seemed to be angry or unhappy. That big smile of yours and infectious playful demeanour would light up any mood. There was never a dull moment.

Atta being himself (from the album of Victor Yuen)

The ripples of your life will continue to have a positive impact in this world.

We stayed friends because we had so much in common. We were both playful idiots, loved gaming and cars and found careers in the tech industry.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trips back to Christchurch – whereupon there would always be an obligatory photoshoot. We’d take your car out for a drive into the port hills and spend heaps of time waxing on about modifications and the styling of the cars.

The result of one of these shoots (from the album of Victor Yuen)

I must admit you had good taste when it came to modifying cars – and you had some real gems.

That BMW E30 V8 of yours was a monster and I remember it roaring off like a big muscle car as you drove away. Thanks again, for letting me drive that one, what an experience.

We shared a passion for performance cars and in a big way I actually owe this to you. You helped me pick my first car – though you did always laugh and say that I stole your idea.

I fondly recall buying that Skyline GTS-4, parking it up in the car park outside the Computer Science building at Canterbury University and surprising you.

As we walked through the carpark, I said “Hey wait, Atta, isn’t that the car that you showed me online the other day?”. We walked over excitedly and peered inside the windows to admire it – at which point I suddenly opened the door and brandished the keys. The look on your face, what you exclaimed, and the bubbling excitement!

I’ll miss that. I’ll miss sharing that excitement and passion with you.

I’m not going to be the only one to miss you though. You’ve touched so many lives. I’m but one part and memory of your whole life and it brings me joy to see what a life you’ve lived.

The Futsal community, the tech community and Muslim community have come out in such strong support. I’ve read countless heartfelt messages and heard so many beautiful things from mutual friends of ours.

Undoubtedly Farah and Aya will have much healing to do – but know that because of you, they will have a strong community that supports and loves them. The ripples of your life will continue to have a positive impact in this world.

Goodbye old friend.

We will miss you.

The author with his digital double

Victor Yuen is head of product at FaceMe.