Exclusive Interview With Mehreen Seher, Country Manager for AnchorFree (Hotspot Shield)!

Recently, ProPakistani got a chance to sit down with Mehreen Seher Hai, the country manager for Anchorfree which is the company behind the very popular Hotspot Shield.

We’re a bit surprised to see a dedicated country manager for Pakistan at Hotspot who’s working out of Silicon Valley. Tell us how that happened and the work you do?

Well, following the Youtube ban, Hotspot Shield experienced a massive increase in Pakistani customers, a number that has continuously been going up since. We currently have millions of active users from Pakistan. For this reason, AnchorFree recently decided to hire someone who could specifically oversee and lead all the marketing activity in the Pakistani market.

They made sure to hire someone who was originally from Pakistan and had lived there recently, to ensure proper representation. This way, I’m not only able to represent AnchorFree in Pakistan, but am also able to represent the Pakistani users to AnchorFree. My main job is to understand exactly how to best serve the needs of our Pakistani customers, and consequently grow our user base as well as our fan base in Pakistan.

Tell us a bit about how Anchorfree sees the Pakistani market?

We consider the Pakistani market one of our priorities. It is one of our biggest markets and we value it highly. We also understand that we play a significant role in the internet usage of several Pakistanis and we hope to continue doing so in the future.

We currently have hundreds of thousands of daily Pakistani users and we hope to grow that number to millions. This dedication is signaled by the fact that AnchorFree has recently taken onboard a Country Manager (myself) who’s fully dedicated to serving the Pakistani market.

Can you give us some statistics on Hotspot Shield users from Pakistan?

Following the Youtube ban in 2012, we have had millions of Hotspot Shield downloads all from Pakistani users. We currently have hundreds of thousands of active daily users from Pakistan, with active monthly users totaling millions.  These numbers have been growing since, and we hope to continue and accelerate this trend!

Issues of censorship are intertwined with a VPN product. What is Hotspot’s take on the Youtube ban? 

We respect and understand that the Pakistani government had good intentions behind this ban. We only mean to provide the Pakistani public with some of the great content they’re missing out on. The Youtube ban has taken away the Pakistani public’s access to several amazing resources available on this site, such as educational and instructional videos as well entertainment channels that cater to almost every online individual in some manner.

It can also be an invaluable resource to the Pakistanis who are trying to build an online presence through their blogs and videos. Consequently, we see a massive number of Pakistanis trying to access Youtube through us daily and we are happy to help them out.

Quite a few people frown on the use of proxies to bypass restrictions. What do you think about such objections?

We fully respect the law in Pakistan. However, we do believe that citizens have the right to access the educational and entertainment-related content that is available online. These users are also becoming increasingly concerned for their digital privacy and safety, and thus we hope to offer them peace of mind through Hotspot Shield.

How much data does Hotspot log? It’s a well known fact that NSA can ask companies to turn over all data. If that happens, are users protected and are they identifiable? 

Hotspot Shield does not track or log any data that can be traced back to a user. We have absolutely no idea on who our users are or what they do while they’re using Hotspot Shield. We simply do not track or log this data. Therefore, any organization that comes to us requesting this data will be declined. We can’t turn over something that we don’t have.

Furthermore, Hotspot Shield has its own server infrastructure, which is exponentially bigger than any of our competitors. Since we own everything, we do not rely on any third party solutions. This makes the service much more secure and guarantees the privacy of our users. Also, having our own infrastructure that we’ve built over the years puts us ahead of competition in terms of the quality of the service: speed and reliability.

Hotspot Shield has been around for over 8 years so we have the most experience in this business. Our offerings are completely free to use on Windows and Android, which creates another reason why users choose Hotspot Shield over others.

Silicon Valley is hailed as the heart of innovation. Tell our readers a bit about how Pakistan’s budding ecosystem is making an impression. 

Yes, I’m proud to say that the flourishing tech industry in Pakistan impresses everyone who hears about it, including people in Silicon Valley. It’s really impressive to see how speedily we’ve gone from using dial-up internet to developing a vibrant tech industry, complete with a thriving e-commerce industry and constant contributions to the global market.

Some of my favorite examples of these contributions are Convo, Groopic, Jadoo TV and Simplicant, all of which are ‘made in Pakistan’ innovations that are speedily gathering popularity in the US.

Hotspot Shield is available on PC, Mac, iOS and Android.

Talal is the Editor in Chief at ProPakistani.


  • guest

    WTH , Hotspot shield ka country manager :O

    Is ka kaam yahi ho ga ,jo loog anon ban kar internet use kar rahay hain un ka data collect karna :P

    • Mehreen Seher Hai

      No, thankfully my work is a little more fun than that. :P I get to figure out how to keep our Pakistani users happy and engaged.

      • Guest

        Hotspot is not a charity organization. They rip you off with the browser hijacking plugins and malwares that send all your data back to their systems… I really hate them

        • Mehreen Seher Hai

          Yes, you are correct, we are not a non-profit organization. Our revenues are ad-based and subscription based, depending on whichever choice our valuable customers make.

          I am sorry that you had an unpleasant experience with us in the past. As I mentioned earlier, we do not use plugins anymore. We hope that the improvements we have made to our software better suit your needs now. If this is not the case, we apologize and assure you that we are working on improving the quality of your experience every day.

          • Shahid Chauddhary

            i used hotspot sheild a year ago it slow down and sometime halt system now im using zenmate much better then hotspot sheild.

            • Shahzaib Rehman

              “Zenmate” is only useful for browsing but if you want to download particular contents using a download manager then “Zenmate” won’t be your mate any longer. :P

              • Shahid Chauddhary

                No man it works i always download with zenmate

      • Ome

        lol means jo bhi ghalt sites ban han unhay khulwana. wow kitna acha kaam hai

      • Please, don’t fool Pakistani’s..

  • Farooq Saleem

    Hotspot Shield does not track or log any data that can be traced back to
    a user. We have absolutely no idea on who our users are or what they do
    while they’re using Hotspot Shield

    LOL!, joke of the day :)

    • Umar Hassan

      Hotspot is not a charity organization. They rip you off with the browser hijacking plugins and malwares that send all your data back to their systems.
      I really hate them

      • Mehreen Seher Hai

        You are correct, we are not a non-profit organization. Our revenues are ad-based and subscription based, depending on whichever choice our valuable customers make.

        I am sorry that you had an unpleasant experience with us in the past. As I mentioned earlier, we do not use plugins anymore. We hope that the improvements we have made to our software better suit your needs now. If this is not the case we apologize and assure you that we are working on improving the quality of your experience every day.

  • Ahmed Habib

    Mid-April Fool day joke?

    • Guest

      Ha, but I never use these proxies or vpn as I have access to 10k IP addresses in my office. ;-)

      • Shahzaib Rehman

        You have access to 10K IP Addresses in your office ! O.o
        You must be that manager sitting in Hotspot Shield’s office :D

        • Saad Ismail

          I think he is talking about LAN IPs lol or maybe IPv6 :v

    • Majid Khan

      @ahmed_habib:disqus Tum 2 min nikaal k MAR kyun nhi jatey?
      Ghar pe daal tumhein parchi pe milti hogi aur yahan net per batein sun lo apki..

      • Ahmed Habib

        Sleeping PTI tiger just woke up against me?

        • Majid Khan

          Tum kaun say khait ki mooli ho :P ya patwari mooli ho?

  • Naqvi

    Hotspot Shield slows down the system drastically. Zenmate (add-on) still the better option for youtube-ing.

    • Mehreen Seher Hai

      I’m sorry you feel that way. We are currently working on this, and would love to add you to our millions of happy users from Pakistan. Meanwhile thank you for your valuable feedback! :)

      • Umar Hassan

        O come on…
        Users are only happy because they dont know how you rip apart their privacy. Ever heard of famous browser hacking plugins and malwares that you software is bundled with. I m sure you will say there is no such thing. Because are paid to do it.
        What a joke all this is.

        • Mehreen Seher Hai

          Actually, we respect our user’s privacy to the utmost degree. We do not collect data that can be traced back to the user, and we ensure complete anonymity to our users. We also do not use plugins anymore, because they were creating a negative user experience. This way we are able to keep our millions of fans happy, and hope that we can win you back as one some day.

          I am sorry if anything I am saying here is hard for you to believe because I am an employee and representative of AnchorFree. I would have thought that this would help legitimize any claims I make, but i respect that you think otherwise. Thank you again for your valuable feedback Umar, and we look forward to more such zealous feedback in our future communications!

    • Umar Hassan

      Hotspot is not a charity organization. They rip you off with the browser hijacking plugins and malwares that send all your data back to their systems… I really hate them

      • Mehreen Seher Hai

        You are correct, we are not a non-profit organization. Our revenues are ad-based and subscription based, depending on whichever choice our valuable customers make.

        I am sorry that you had an unpleasant experience with us in the past. As I mentioned earlier, we do not use plugins anymore. We hope that the improvements we have made to our software better suit your needs now. If this is not the case, we apologize and assure you that we are working on improving the quality of your experience every day.

  • Mehreen Seher Hai

    Glad I could amuse you folks. :P While admitting to this being a joke would obviously be the more entertaining answer, I sadly have to take the boring route and let you know that its the truth.

    Our top priority is to provide privacy to our customers. We do not store any logs that can be used to associate a connection to a user. Thus nothing can be traced back to the users. For this reason, it isn’t even technically possible for us to submit any user-specific information. We just don’t have it.

    • Taha Najam

      Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t ISPs and VPN providers operating out of the States legally bound to store all incoming traffic data through their IPs for a certain period of time?

  • Khan

    Woah what a load of hocus pocus this is?
    Anchor free provides free vpn really? Just type any random words and then see the Typed-relevant ads flourishing on your web pages if you haven’t installed Ad-blockers.

    Ofcourse it sells customers search history to third party ad sites.

    • Mehreen Seher Hai

      Hi Khan. Can I safely assume that you have sources backing that claim of us ‘selling customer data to third parties’?

      You see, those ads you mentioned are the reason we don’t and will never need to sell out our users data to anyone. Ads are how we are able to provide the service free to our loyal users. And given that we don’t track user-specific data, we’d be broke pretty quickly if we were to try and make money that way.

      However, I am sorry that the ads ruin your experience. If it helps, we are working on offering discounts and giveaways of our ad-free Hotspot Shield Elite to Pakistani users.

      I will of course understand if you like other options better. Either way, thank you for your valuable feedback and please browse safely!

      • Umar Hassan

        u really dont have any idea what you are talking about. The ads you show are shown with extensions installed in browsers. These extensions are installed without users permission.
        Do you understand this. It is illegal. Its crime. You and conduit are same company.
        Scammers your claims are false.

      • Khan

        A part of the comments on https://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/hotspotshield.com are about third-party advertisements, based on information about users, delivered within the content of any web page accessed.

  • Umar Hassan

    So what do you think about browser hijacking softwares that are bundled with hotspot shield. Which cracks every browser installed on the system and are impossible to delete

    • Mehreen Seher Hai

      Hi Umar. Thank you for all that zealous feedback. Please know that Hotspot Shield does not work with any plugin partners anymore. Yes you are right in the past we tried that option, but it led to a negative user experience, which is why we do not use that anymore. Keeping our valuable user’s experience pleasant is what we work so hard for, and we would never continue a practice which causes them such unpleasantness. Thankfully, this is why we have such a large number of amazing fans from Pakistan. I am sorry to know that we lost you as a fan and I sincerely apologize for your having had such a negative experience in the past. We aim to provide the best service possible and thanks to your feedback we are one step closer to making that happen. Thank you and have a great morning!

      • Ghulam.e.Ahmed

        I was testing HotSpot Shield on my Android using google account via Wifi to Protect All feature, but when running firefox to access youtube ( all are crazy for it ) it is not answering, same happened with stock browser app. And when used my 3G connection, it is working fine ? what is the problem can you help me?
        appreciate you have been choosen for Pakistan !!

        • Mehreen Seher Hai

          Hi! Thank you so much for bringing this problem to my attention. Could you please email me at [email protected] so that I can connect you to our support team and help you figure out the problem? I look forward to your email and thank you for your kind comments. :)

  • Madi

    hotspot always slowdown my device….n hv to remove itasap from my system..plz fix ths issue
    ..between…its gud to know tht a girl is managing the whole process…..gud luck….plus how actually u grab this opportunity….n how much u r making from marketing…

    • Mehreen Seher Hai

      Thank you for your valuable feedback, Madi. I’m sorry to hear that the speed issues have discouraged your use of Hotspot Shield but I can assure you that we’re working hard to keep providing better speeds. Hopefully this will positively affect your usage soon and then we’ll be able to win you back as a valuable user!
      And I think the important question is not how I got this opportunity but how well I’m able to serve you all through it! So keep your valuable feedback coming and we hope to provide you with the best service possible. Have a great day!

      • truthteller2015

        Hi Mehreen, no matter what you do, how hard you try to convince these people. They will always come up to you and say this and that. This is the beauty of Pakistan, Because this is what we are best at Pick things on others and say as much rubbish as we could regarding the success of others.

        Appreciate your time, for replying to all but you will still lot to come.

        Thanks.

        • Mehreen Seher Hai

          No I’m happy to answer any queries that our valuable users have from us. Its always a pleasure to speak with them and hear them expressing their opinions so enthusiastically. But I really appreciate your support and help, and look forward to hearing more such positive comments!

  • Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain

    @mehreenseherhai:disqus, Why you are defending that privacy thing?
    The company registered in USA and whatever routed through their servers, NSA has access to all information. I don’t even understand why that question was asked in interview because it’s obvious that NSA has legal rights in USA to access their servers located in USA,UK and Australia.
    Second as far as I know they share user data to third parties, not the information accessed but user’s own data being sell to third parties.
    Now please don’t clarify these things, they are obvious and these practices become norms now.

    • Mehreen Seher Hai

      Actually, I appreciated the question because its one of the biggest misconceptions about our service. People think that due to NSA rules, we are somehow forced to collect trackable information about people. That is not true. We don’t log any data that is traceable to the user, and we are happy to be able to provide our users with this privacy. But thank you for your input. It’s great to get feedback from the valued Pakistani internet users.

    • Majid Khan

      @dramir20:disqus Aam khayega aam??

  • Haroon

    Good to hear some native out of silicon valley and that too a lady. Congrats anyway for that achievement.
    Zenmate is a bit easy and speedy over hotspot shield or other free vpn services. Moreover its add free.
    I ain’t a nuclear expert or advisor, or some one who has the most valuable data on the planet and neither do i keep or visit stuff that i would like to privatize:).. Who cares about privacy, its YT duh. Why should an average white collared citizen should be afraid of data stealing, privacy invasion.
    Murphy’s law, anyone? What you expect to go wrong will go wrong. When you are on WWW, say bye to privacy; if someone gonna steal something from you, he will; those $$$ external firewalls ain’t gonna protect you. Moreover its VPN, soo get the point? :)
    Btw which countries generate the largest amount of traffic via Hotspot Shield.
    Regards

    • Mehreen Seher Hai

      Thank you for appreciation Haroon. It feels great to have the support of our valuable Pakistani users! We have millions of fans all around the world, and we’re especially popular in countries where online content is blocked for any reason, which I’m sure is no surprise.

  • Well I found HSS quite interesting, I have a high end system with 8MB connection so I didn’t feel any lag in my connection neither on my system. Plus I use adBlocker to block HSS ads :P

    • Mehreen Seher Hai

      Hi Kashif. Thank you for the positive feedback! It’s great to know that you’re finding Hotspot Shield useful. If you do have any trouble in future, please don’t hesitate to contact our support team. They are always standing by to assist our valued users. But its great to know that you don’t need that. Thank you again and please have a great day!

  • Reality

    She is a LUMS alumni. Proud. :’)

    • Mehreen Seher Hai

      And I’m a prouder Pakistani! :) Its great to meet all you good people.

  • Uzair Farooqi

    Lie of the century :-P
    “We simply do not track or log this data. Therefore, any organization that comes to us requesting this data will be declined. We can’t turn over something that we don’t have.”

    • Mehreen Seher Hai

      Hi Uzair, I know it sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Thankfully it is true. We respect and value each user’s privacy and ensure that no data is logged which can be traced back to a user.

  • AmirTut

    I thought use of any VPN product in Pakistan was illegal? Has the government decided to drop that foolishly policy of banning VPNs?

    • Mehreen Seher Hai

      No sadly the policy is still in place, and we respect the good intentions that the government had behind this ban. However, we saw several Pakistani users trying to access the educational and entertainment related content that had gotten blocked in Youtube, and we are happy to help them access that.

  • Zafar Abbas Rizvi

    I took one month subscription of Hotspot sheild 2 months ago and after paid subscription connectivity issues remained same like free subscription. I had to try so many times after which it connects with the server. And after few minutes it kept disconnecting again and again. Super vpn works much better than hotspot.

  • aasim

    ultrasurf is good one for youtube . no any ads or add-one just single execution . there u visit youtube. hotspot has malware .. !!!

  • Imran Sidat

    Thats the Great News that International Companies providing a representative in Pakistan, and we hope that they also do the localized development from Pakistan as well.
    Regards Imran Sidat

  • Sayigh Masumi

    Used it Loved it Hope for lower ads and no disconnections in future.

  • Ahmed

    I like the way manager is personally replying to all the negative feedbacks.

  • Jeff

    so she knows how many people in this country browsing porn ???? her job must be sending this info to back in USA and media agencies