Shocking Stats? – Who’s Starting Companies

August 17, 2013

Immigrant entrepreneurs fueling innovation in America

Grace Nasri’s recent article on Fast Company “The Shocking Stats About Who’s Really Starting Companies In America” has sparked some recent debates.

On one camp, there were folks who state that the HB-1 Visa was not bringing fully skilled workers, the HB-1 hires are not treated well, we should hire Americans, etc. They believe that this article is propaganda and does not address the fact that majority of immigration fuels cheap labor.┬áThe other camp squarely sits in the “This makes America” great, pointing out that the difference between the immigrant experience between the U.S. and Europe and the success of immigrants in this country proof that immigration should be opened further.

As always, truth lies somewhere in between. Having been a technology executive for companies big and small, east and west side of the coast, I see that we need more talented people in technology, business, design and more. As an naturalized citizen, I believe that individuals like myself contribute to the business and social fabric of America as all immigrants have before me. However, I also have seen the abuses of HB-1 Visas and how challenging it can be for those employees. The reality is that we need a balance of both: (1) more training and hiring of from our existing pool of labor here in the U.S. (2) better immigration policies to help bring in more innovation and expertise.

What I find interesting here is that while more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies have been founded by immigrants or children of immigrants, the folks holding the “purse strings” do not seem reflect the same. What does Wall Street look like in the executive ranks? Are there many immigrants? What does Venture Capital look like? Is there a diversity of immigrants, women, minorities, etc. represented there? We know that immigrants are founding companies. But where are they in the the pipeline of “funding” companies?

I like articles like this. It sparks debates. Let’s chat about funding as well! I long to see immigrants, women, minorities and people from all different backgrounds participate fully in each stage of a Venture-Back experience from funding to founding.



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