Immigrants Founded Half Of The Top U.S. Start-Up Ventures


Written by Amanda Peterson Beadle

Studies continue to show the important economic impact immigrants have on the national economy as well as states, be it the millions in losses Alabama faces after passing a draconian immigration law to the number of jobs immigrants help create.

Now venture capitalists are arguing for immigration reform for the sake of the economy after a study showed that immigrants founded almost half of the U.S.’s top 50 start-up companies and are vital management or development employees at roughly 75 percent of the nation’s leading cutting-edge companies.

Companies with immigrant founders include the textbook rental company Chegg and the online craft site Etsy. The most common countries of origin for these entrepreneurs were India, Israel, Canada, Iran, and New Zealand, and for many, their experiences creating a start-up were “uniquely American,” according to the report by the National Federation for American Policy:

The stories of how the companies were founded carry a uniquely American feel. In true “only in America” fashion, two former students at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran ended up in San Francisco and established an online romantic social network that is considered a top destination for singles. The men had to abandon another company they started years earlier after an immigration attorney informed the pair it was virtually impossible for a foreign national to gain a visa as the founder of a startup company. [...]

While it is often large companies that are cited in media accounts supporting liberalized immigration rules for highly-skilled foreign nationals, Eric Lekacz, a native-born co-founder of ExteNet Systems, which provides network infrastructure for wireless providers, points out that hiring the right person can be even more critical for newer companies. “When in the emerging growth phase you have to get the best person without regard to race or ethnicity,” he said.

The NFAP’s report concludes that the U.S. needs policies to retain talented entrepreneurs in the U.S., but the hoops can be high for those who want to immigrate to the U.S. And the cap for H-1B visas, highly sought after for IT workers, has already been reached for the 2012 fiscal year, so anyone who wants to apply for the visa will have to wait another year before trying. “It’s a gamble whether an entrepreneur should stay or leave right now, and that’s not how the immigration system should work,” said Mark Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association, according to the Chicago Tribune. “What we need is legislation that helps these entrepreneurs from outside the United States.”

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.


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Photo from Morning Calm News via flickr


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Billie C.
Billie C5 years ago

nobody has problems with immigrants. the problem is with illegal aliens. they are not the same thing. illegals should be shipped back home. they need to come in the right way or get out.
we tried a blanket amnesty and all it did was encourage more to sneak in. no more freebies.
illegal is illegal.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle5 years ago

America's success has always depended on new blood, immigrants.

Roopak Vaidya
Roopak Vaidya5 years ago

Mark S., those who made this immigration law entered the American continent illegally, and against the wishes of the former residents. How do they now get the right to make "immigration laws"?

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener5 years ago


Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush6 years ago

This makes perfect sense.

Sarah M.
Sarah M6 years ago

That's right! Immigrants are America!

Mark Stevenson
Mark S6 years ago

A spade is a spade. A hammer is a hammer. If someone breaks the law to enter the country, they are an illegal immigrant. Either change the law, or call it what it is.
If I killed someone, would I be an undocumented executioner?

KS Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

anne nonymoose
anne nonymoose6 years ago

@ John :
4. the formal act of liberating someone
In this case grant the immigrant or even only guest of your country a period during which a law is suspended to don't make him a criminal.
You can not imagine how many people are in Detention and get deported that did not commit any crime. People with green cards, citizens, longtime lawful residents, that just got flagged because someone entered a wrong visa number in the ICE is very very easy to become a criminal in the US as a foreigner - much easier than not, especially if you have to go on business trips to sell US made products worldwide and have to use a passport. Everyone at the airport can just tell you you can't enter the country because he feels like it - even if you have a valid visa - then your flagged forever, can't go home anymore, leave your family, home, company, bills...and you're an instant criminal...even as a tourist you know to don't give a wrong answer to harassing questions, remain silent, leave your fingerprints and your money and go home soon...
And btw - why would someone grant Amnesty to 'Illegals' after staying 10 years but not to 'Legals' ? That's how you create a legal immigrants mob, people who gave up their citizenship of their country to don't have problems in the US...