I’m going to take my liberty as blog writer and eccentric CEO to say something here that’s not really about our business. I mean, it’s about OUR business, but it’s not about THE business.
It’s insane that we’re living in a country once known for being paved with streets of gold to attract immigrants to come here and make a better life for themselves and now we can’t hire the most talented foreign-born to build businesses.
What do all of these people have in common? They were foreign born and did amazing things for this country.
The CTO of newquill is foreign-born and is one of the most talented programmers I’ve ever met. But because the only mechanism for keeping talented foreigners in the country requires you to pay them full salaries until their H1B visa expires one year later, he isn’t really welcome to help build our business.
Immigrants are welcome as visitors to be hired and travel to America for as long as you need them here before they have to go home. They’re welcome to work for you for cheap wages in their home country. They’re welcome to stay for low-wage, and often, illegal labor.
But it’s really difficult to get them to stay to help build a company and, therefore, jobs for the country at a time when the country has the highest unemployment rate in recent history. The tech bubble may not be a phrase referring so much to the inflated value of companies, but more the insulation from the plight of the America outside of the bubble. I’ll be honest, we’ve been inside this bubble for the last two and a half months.
But, truthfully, a solution for this problem is to have smart people (no matter where they’re from) build valuable companies based on technology.
Here’s some facts and a story out of the Tech Stars incubator from a website created to push changes for start-up visa legislation, Votizen:
Companies such as Google, Pfizer, Intel, Yahoo, DuPont, eBay and Procter & Gamble are all former start-ups founded by immigrants. Yet immigrants have not only founded major, well-known companies. Foreign-born residents made up just 12.5% of the U.S. population in 2008, while nearly 40% of technology company founders and 52% of founders of companies in Silicon Valley are foreign-born.
Vanilla (http://vanillaforums.com) is an example of a type of company this visa would apply to. Vanilla has two founders, both Canadian. They spent the summer in Boulder, Colorado as part of the TechStars accelerator program getting advice, help, and mentorship from over 50 U.S. based entrepreneurs and investors. Numerous investors were interested in funding Vanilla and helping them to grow their company from Boulder; however neither founder was able to give investors comfort that they could get an appropriate visa to stay and work in the US. Since then, the founders have relocated to Montreal, raised $500,000, and started their company in Canada. Today, they are adding three people to their team, all based in Montreal. If successful, they will add many more people to the team over the next few years.
Pledge your support for the Start-Up Visa here at www.startupvisa.com
I’ll finish with my comments on the site, Votizen:
I am a start-up CEO who has an extremely talented CTO programmer from China. Under his enthusiasm we visited Washington D.C. together as a team and during that time he told me that he was born a westerner in a Chinese body. He loves America’s freedoms, has unbelievable talent, and wants to stay in this country. He has a Master’s in Engineering from USC and still has difficulty staying in this country. We are working on getting funding, and I am willing to put in my own money into the company to pay him the salary he needs to stay in the country, but can’t afford the amount required by the US Government.
Please help us to help this country create jobs and valuable products.