Idiocy and brilliance of American policy toward entrepreneurs

Listen to the story of Aye Moah. She grew up in one of the poorest countries on earth. She shouldn’t have many opportunities. Yet here she was, talking with me at a Silicon Valley party after the Always On conference. The route she took? She went to MIT. How did she get in? Was one of the top-scoring students in Burma. One of the top 10, in fact. Then she scored a perfect 800 on the SAT. That’s a cool story alone.

But now keep listening. She is one of the top talented people in the world. The kind that help start companies that hire thousands of people.

Yet she can’t work here in the United States.

Let me get this right. One of the smartest people in an entire country gets an invite to come to the United States to study. Does so. Gets a great education from one of the top universities in the world. And we can’t employ her because of our screwed up immigration laws.

Shame on America.

Even if she were to get a work visa, it probably would be from a bigger company that would treat her poorly (I keep hearing stories of how immigrants are treated like crap and can’t leave, otherwise their work visa will be yanked). These laws are unjust and not American. Worse yet they are anti innovation because it’s these smart, highly educated, people who will start the next companies. It isn’t lost on me that eBay was started by an Iranian.

But, standing next to her was Ronald Mannak. He is an entrepreneur who lost everything he owned. In Holland if your company fails and you’ve taken venture capital you are personally liable for the losses. So, Ronald owes the Dutch government $200,000 and lost everything, even his fridge, he told us.

Here in Silicon Valley it’s different. We let you fail, multiple times, and you aren’t personally liable to the venture capitalists.

So, here, in one video, you have a demonstration of how American policy is both brilliant and idiotic at the same time.

It’s amazing how anti immigrant we’ve become. Stupidly so, too.

This is why I support the Startup Visa project and urge you to support it too.

Comments

  1. I thing Ronald Mannak lies. Most likely the issue is he personally backed some company loans. AFAIK in the US it is not allowed of banks to demand that, in Europe this is pretty standard procedure, albeit dangerous, but legal. If you are stupid enough to sign that, then yes, you will be liable.

  2. With all do respect, in and of themselves these are just examples of two situations. They are not proof of anything per se. One or two people out of 300 million does not a trend make. I agree they seem “out of place” but none the less that still does not alter their subjective nature in the context as presented.

  3. Sorry, I hear these stories all the time but these are definitely two compelling versions. Go read http://startupvisa.com/ and you'll see dozens of stories just like these. Or, go around some big tech company and talk with immigrants and you'll hear the same thing over and over.

  4. Can you link me to Dutch law? Whenever someone calls someone else a liar I'd like to see the real evidence. The “anti failure” culture in Europe (which I hear from EVERYONE) came from someplace, too.

    1. This is hilarious – you go with one persons story ( without verifying it in any way ) and talk of the brilliance/idiocy of American policy, yet ask for links to ‘dutch laws’ from another person for his opinion/reply.

  5. Hi Scoble,
    Thanks for sharing my story. And championing Startup Visa movement for others like me.

    You mention I cannot work in your blog post and I wanted to give more context. The reason I cannot work is because I left my employer, the company that was sponsoring my H1B. So I cannot work at the moment until my adjustment to status to green card is approved. I’ll be able to start something then. So my personal story is more of hindered/delayed opportunities.

    Since I graduated in 2005, I cannot start a start up. I cannot work for an unfunded tiny start up even if I’m willing to take the risk without having a green card. And many classmates from MIT who came as international students have voiced their feelings of being trapped at big corporates and/or wanting to start a startup or join a startup as employee #1-10 full time but they can’t. And they are not coming forward since they don’t want to get fired or negatively treated by their current companies. I hope that me being free of any employer ties can be a spoke person for all my friends who are in that situation.

    Again, thanks so much for sharing this story! I hope this will make a difference to the Startup Visa movement.

    Moah

  6. In Holland there are 4 types of businesses (I'm translating these with the help of Wikipedia, so I don't know if it makes perfect sense): sole proprietorship (eenmanszaak in Dutch), general partnership (v.o.f. in Dutch), limited company (B.V. in Dutch) and joint stock company (N.V. in Dutch, the ones that are listed at the Stock Exchange).

    If your company is of the former two types you (and your partners) are personal liable for losses. If your company is of the latter two types, you're not. So Ronald's company could have been of the type that makes your personal liable for debts. He could have picked another business type, but there are various reasons not to choose that business type.

  7. Well, he specifically said his company was venture funded. I'll see if I can get him to come here and explain more about the kind of company he had and what the specific law is.

  8. As an entrepreneur show host, I definitely find this interesting. I know the debate here will be on the pro/con of the policies, situations; however, I think this opens up a bigger topic of how much entrepreneurship in this country has changed over even the past 10 years. Far less money, in many cases less geographical importance (not all), cheaper to fail and many more goodies.

    There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur.

  9. I don't know about Holland, but I do know about Spain, where I have a business. Here we also have several types of businesses, but even in those in which partners are not responsible personally, they can eventually be if a judge decides so. A few requisites have to be met (you have to manage the company and there has to be some kind of guilt), but judges are usually eager to consider they are met, so if you fail and have something they can get, you're screwed.

    Also, here it is a standard practice that banks will force you to back loans personally, so you're screwed twice. Only companies with relevant assets are able to avoid that.

  10. @charlesfrith – It is my contention that the US (if not the whole world) will never regain full employment until the vast majority of people become entrepreneurs. We are going back to the craft and guilds of the Middle Ages aren't we?

    As long as a people are generally not willing to do the dirty jobs (usually assigned to illegal aliens), we are going to have a class of people that are unemployable unless they get up and do somthing.

    The only saving grace is that if an entrepreneur is successful, they will hire people. Generally, these jobs require more than basic skills, but at least there are job opportunities.

    I agree with Robert that our immigration laws are AFU. Unfortunately, the middle ground is almost impossible to achieve in our current political climate and to do so will require a great LEADER, one of which is not on the forseeable horizon…

    Sheesh.

    1. “not willing to do the dirty jobs”. I hear that assertion a lot but I’m not convinced by it. I do however believe that people are generally not willing to do the dirty jobs on a cash basis without paying income tax, social security and medical insurance. Allowing the pool of illegal alien labor go grow has created several industries that are de facto publicly subsidized (in the form of medical, housing and education costs not being borne by the employer or employee).

      I see little evidence for us going back in large scale to craft and guilds. As far as I can see we are outsourcing a great deal of production and support tasks to large organizations. Just not here.

  11. Btw, I know I'm new here. So please pardon me for playing the contrarian. I'm hoping it opens up the conversation a bit.

    I'm simply saying that all that appears to be sometimes is not. Yes, no doubt there are stories. But where is the objective analysis to confirm the theories these stories support. In a Darwinian sense, the VCs sometimes get what they bargain for, no? If they see a serial “failure”, who's fault is it if they fork over more money? The failure's?

  12. Additional info: there is a law in Holland about venture funding by individuals. In that case it is only possible to give the funds to a Natural person (as opposed to a Legal person). The consequence being that the person who receives the funding is personally liable for that debt.

    It is also possible to fund a limited company of course and I don't know about those rules (they are quite complex in fact) but I guess Ronald's company received venture funding using the above construction.

  13. The argument has to be made from a patriotic standpoint. All the world (with some inconsequential exceptions) has now gone capitalist. The U.S. is not the biggest capitalist country. What is our future edge in the competition with countries with authoritarian capitalist systems? Sure, a competitive university system, a pro-business climate as far as hiring, firing, paperwork etc, and major global talent centers like the Bay Area – those things come up again and again in studies. But competitor countries will increasingly put those things into place. In the long run the tech lead will come down to which country the smart people decide to work for. It is here and only here that democracy has a true edge over authoritarianism; people will pick openness and freedom if given the choice, every time.

    Of course standards are tough to set, but we have to be get out ahead of the game here. Giving free citizenship to the top 100k scorers on an global SAT-style test, anyone who has held a six-figure job for 3+ years, and/or anyone who can pay a few hundred thousand (as is the case in Australia, IIRC) would be a strong start.

  14. Thanks for this post, Robert. Truly a favorite amongst your work. I'm grateful for the passion you put into this post and how you've blended the humanity with your tech-focused mindset. This is really the story of the decade, in some ways. Isn't it?

    The frontier is all around us.

  15. Robert I couldn't agree with you more on the Immigration laws in this country being screwed up. I came here on a work visa – I have no horror stories about that, I worked for a magnificent company who treated me like a prince. It cost thousands of dollars, both theirs and mine to get me my green card. I am now in the fourth year of five before I can become a citizen. In total I will have been here 10 years. In that time I have paid thousands in taxes, I have started my own company, hired Americans and yet I get no vote. I have no say in how policy is enacted, I get no say in how taxes are spent.
    Didn't someone start a revolution based on the premise of no taxation without representation.. oh wait let me see it was America!!! Now that is screwed up! Not only that but it is a felony to vote if you are a green card holder, which means deportation, however, some states that want to enforce that law are being told that they can't ask for proof of citizenship by the liberal federal courts!!! Again screwed up immigration.

  16. In addition, let's pass the Dream Act where thousands of smart, college educated but out of status children of immigrants can rock the house, start businesses, and be welcome additions to the economy.

    If you don't know anything about it, get in touch. It is welcome piece of proposed legislation that would allow some pretty stellar kids to obtain status without having to be pushed out to countries they don't even know or have even lived in.

  17. Isn't there an insanely high number of silicon valley entrepreneurs who are immigrants or foreign born?

    And yet, the whole country tries to emulate the energy of the valley with their economic development and forget one of the key factors. A tolerant and diverse culture. And the taxes argument? Silicon Valley is in California, with one of the highest tax rates in the nation. And yet it keeps innovating.

    Having known many immigrant and foreign born business owners, the negative stereotypes are all wrong. The last thing they are are lazy or trying to work the system. Most times, I see immigrants work harder.

    Our laws are so silly – how come someone who can figure out a way to get a college education here not be able to stay here? I mean, they're obviously productive. We're constantly educating high end talent and shipping it off to other nations, talent that sometimes wants to return “home” but most times from my experience wants to be here. Be citizens. Work their tail off.

    We're supposed to be the land of opportunity. It's part of what makes us great.

  18. A good immigration attorney might be able to get her an A-1 visa. Though it would probably be a tough sell. Another option is a private bill. But I agree that a law that addresses cases like this would be better in the long run.

  19. Indeed it is – but, please forgive my ignorance on the topic, but what is stopping these people from flourishing where they are? I'm not anti-immigrant by any measure, I just would like to see such people succeed despite their obstacles. Maybe building a thriving business in another locale might be an intermediary option? Obviously the largest and greatest opportunities seem to be found within the borders of the U.S. but couldn't the EU prove a fertile ground? I ask because I honestly don't know.

  20. Sergey Brin (Google), Pierre Omidyar (eBay), Steve Chen (Youtube), Eduardo Saverin (Facebook), Jerry Yang (Yahoo!), are all immigrants. I just listed 5 founders of some of the biggest websites in the world.

  21. Robert, I think it is important that we distinguish between anti-immigrant and anti-illegal-immigrant. To blur those lines is a disservice to those who make it here the right way.

    We are a nation of laws and we are a nation of immigrants. If our laws make it difficult for people to innovate than we are making a mistake and we will suffer dearly.

    So, let's legislate new laws for those hindered to enter the country but not reward those who break the law.

    Awesome post.

  22. By giving away so many public entitlements, we've turned a bunch of the population into xenophobes that see each new citizen as a threat: “that's another kid who's education I have to pay. that's another social security check I have to pay for.”

    Take away the entitlements, and we could open our borders not just to college graduates but anyone that wants a shot at making it in a free country.

  23. “AFAIK in the US it is not allowed of banks to demand that”

    Oh yes it is. Bank loans, corporate credit cards, commercial leases etc. very often, if not almost always require a personal guarantee by the owners of a business. And these clauses DO get executed if the company defaults.

    OTOH seed capital, venture capital and other investments may or may not require guarantees. The key being the difference between just borrowing money versus getting funded or taking in an investment.

  24. I'm an Immigrant, I came to the USA right out of college to work for a great little company in Rockford, IL. I was very fortunate to be a Canadian which does have a special visa called the TN-1 that lets you work temporarily in the USA. Unfortunately there is no way to change this visa into anything that can lead to citizen on your own, the only way in fact is to marry an American. I was very lucky that I met a lovely girl while I was here and we got married, but the process for even doing everything right is complicated and very expensive.

    I second Simon Salt's opinion that it is not fair that If your here legally paying taxes, you should get a vote to say what is done with your hard earned money. If you pay more that 10k taxes a year you should get a vote. Is there anything else that you pay so much money for but get no say in what goes on? The process to get Citizenship is at minimum 5 years for me it is now on year 9. I plan on getting citizenship, but the $675.00 that this requires is something I have not been able to find the budget for. I wish the money that I pay in taxes counted towards that.

  25. According to INS, the measure used to let young people into our country is not intelligence but “exceptional ability.” As the Forbes video in this post will show, learning to play underwater hockey is clearly the solution. http://su.pr/2x16Vh And we wonder why we're in trouble!

  26. I traveled to Burma recently. I was able to enter on a visa that proved I was a teacher. The Burmese are very prolific readers, and, when they can, prolific users of the social web. I found out while there that there is incredible interest in mobile technologies, wikis, social web startups and books online. And you don't have to have me tell you how problematic it is to have those interests in a country locked down like Burma.

    I agree with your viewpoint. We have reached a level of granularity that we can make these kind of exceptions to let in the most brilliant.

  27. What year did Aye Moah apply for an H-1 visa? It is my understanding that the work visa lottery has not even been a lottery the past few years due to the recession & less hiring. I am a foreign student in the States and in the last 1-2 years I've been here, every foreign student I know, who's gotten a job, has been able to attain a working visa.

    I'm not going to go into the unfairness of being taxed without representation as many green card holders have commented above. But, yes, the system does yield a situation where it is significantly harder for an non-resident alien, like me, to get a job (company concerns about employee turnover rates, unfamiliarity with legal requirements, etc.). If you put me and another equally capable, American citizen job candidate on the table, you know who will get hired. As a result, the small number of resident aliens who do get hired are usually VERY qualified for it and work their tails off. This system is perhaps fair but I take issue with particular parts of it:

    a) The number of visas are limited and before the recession, I've seen a large number of my qualified friends leave the country despite having been hired by legit companies and fully deserving their employment.

    b) The prohibitive cost of of applying for an H-1 working visa makes it unpractical to seek employment in startups. I'm in the Bay Area and have been working with start-ups for most of my college years. I'd love to continue working in this type of environment after graduating, but I know that most start-ups out there just can't take the cost of sponsoring me.

    c) It is virtually impossible to be an entrepreneur here unless you're prepared to lay out hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment up front in order to secure your green card. If I had that amount of money lying around, I wouldn't have to search for opportunities in the States.

  28. Great post. This is a very personal issue with me. My wife is first generation out of Cuba. Thx to the open immigration policy during the overthrow of Cuba I was able to meet my wife Tessie and have my sons David and William. You need look no further than the Cuban stories to see why a more open policy is vital. You would be amazed at the number of cubans In leadership in thus country. There are more CEOs of Cuban descent than any other nationality. Including the now deceased ceo of Coke. What a shame it would have been if we did not sieze on the opportunity that this tragedy created. Common sense and compassion like this are sorely needed once again with this issue. The US will be better off for it.

    David DeVore
    David After Dentist

  29. Two out of three “Americans” awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry this year were immigrants, as were two out of three “Americans” awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. Today, they'd be lucky to get an H1B and even more so to get a Green Card (See my blog: http://martinsuter.net/blog/immigration/)

    A line from a poem, “The New Colossus”, by the nineteenth-century American poet Emma Lazarus, appears on a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty. It ends with Liberty herself speaking:

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

    While this may have sufficed as American immigration policy pre-WWI, when a strong back and a desire to work was all that was necessary to build out the nation’s infrastructure, it doesn’t cut it today. And yet, in many ways, these sentiments continue to be reflected by US immigration policy in the 21st century.

    I speak from personal experience when I say that the path to Green Card for educated professionals is not trivial. Many potential Green Card applicants may also be H1B visa holders, at least the lucky few to have gotten one. The perception continues to be propagated that a Green Card applicant can’t be in the country to fill a position that an American is capable of doing. The first step is for the employer to demonstrate to the Department of Labor that no American meets the minimum qualifications laid out for that position. Not that they are more qualified than the prospective immigrant, simply that they meet the minimum qualifications. This is a very low bar to set and as a result, many highly qualified non-US citizens that want to live, raise their families and pay taxes in the US are not able to do so.

    The sad fact is that these jobs are being created elsewhere, as the production of “bits” has very different location requirements than does the production of “atoms”. American leadership in technology and its competitive advantage are evaporating, and what’s unfortunate is that many of the people that could help stop this slide, have been lined up at the door, asking politely to get in. However, too many are turned away and prevented from doing so.

    Immigration needs to be managed, but the pool of potential immigrants is a tremendous resource to be tapped. An enlightened immigration policy would be aligned with a clearly defined set of national priorities. Want to improve competitiveness and GDP? Make it easier for educated professionals to live and work in the country. Let their spouses, many of which are also highly educated, work and contribute as well. And most importantly, so doing will allow their children to be educated, work and stay in the US as well. Professionals are net producers and help to grow the national economy and the tax base not takers.

    So continue to let in the tired, poor and huddled masses, but make it easier for those of us that are neither tired, nor poor, but who desire to be productive members of the US economy to stay in the country for more than six years.

    That’s my .02!

    Martin Suter

  30. I'm from the Netherlands and I think I understand what he's talking about. Even in the form of B.V. (it's like ltd in USA) you can fall under “wanbeheer aansprakelijkheid” (mismanagement responsibility). If a director knowingly mismanages company to a bancrupcy, he could be liable himself personally. I don't have links in English, sorry, in Dutch it's here http://www.notaris-en-bedrijf.nl/txt.php?notari… for example.

  31. I also support the StartupVisa program, which is one of the reasons I would go to the end of the earth with Dave McClure. In China what did I see? People who got educated in the US and came home to start companies in China, where it was easy, rather than in the US, where they couldn't stay if they quit their first job with a large company after college. What's the matter with us? We kick out the hardest workers and then condemn welfare queens. And by the way, this is also true of the group my hometown hates, the Mexicans. Every one of the ones I know is an entrepreneur. And they all create jobs.

  32. I’ve got highly educated friends in Asia, S. America and Europe who’d love to move to the US, but have spent years dealing with bureaucratic BS, applying for visa lotteries, etc. And I’ve twice been offered $10K to “marry” an expiring student visa holders who live here, just so they could stay. Not all are interested in launching startups, but all have talents, savings and wouldn’t be a net drain on the economy.

    I’ve also entertained a couple of opportunities to move to New Zealand and Australia. Both countries use a ratings system where you get more points for things like education level, professional expertise and ability to invest in the nation’s economy, should you make the cut. The more you’d be a net benefit, the higher your score. No country can simply let in everyone who wants to come, so a measured, mutually beneficial approach is logical.

    Meanwhile one of the biggest drags on the US economy right now is the depressed housing market and excess inventory of 1-2 million properties. Yet we have many millions of low risk potential immigrants stuck in a massive visa backlog of paperwork who could erase that inventory in just a few months. I feel bad that Aye, Ronald and so many others can spend years in limbo wondering if they’ll be accepted. Meanwhile we residents can walk into a bank for a loan, or apply for a mortgage and within 15 minutes our entire lives are compiled for consideration.

  33. Tell me about the Mexicans. The one who owns my favorite restaurant has three kids and works three jobs, including the restaurant. Let's not even get into what a tough life it is working in agriculture, either.

  34. roborr: it is near impossible to start a Google, Facebook, or Apple anywhere else in the world. Certainly not in a poor country like Burma. You should travel the world and then you'd see just how hard it is.

    But let's say you're right. Let's say that she could move somewhere else in the world and start a world-class business, the way you can in Silicon Valley. Facebook has hired 1200. Zynga more than 700. You want to let all those high paying jobs leave and go to another country? THAT is idiotic policy!

  35. That's bull. The anti-illegal immigrant fervor here CAUSES “spill over” effects. It's impossible for most people to discern between illegal and legal immigration. And, obviously based on the stories on http://startupvisa.com/ the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater.

    Personally I've known some illegal immigrants and they work their asses off doing jobs you would never want. Come to Half Moon Bay: they are working in the fields picking the food you'll eat tonight. I'll introduce you to some of them. You'll never meet better Americans.

  36. I realized I should add that I have a lot of personal, and family, experience dealing with immigration issues and would be more than happy to share advice and referrals with your buddy Aye Moah.

  37. I don't disagree at all. I'm just thinking of it from the perspective of 'what would I do if I were in her shoes'. I don't disagree that the policies that keep such talented people from coming to the U.S. are idiotic they're all that and more.

    1. If developed country like the US can have policies this inhibiting to success, just think what the policies are like in a place like Burma. :-)

  38. Peter, there are two parts to personal liability, I'm happy to explain both.

    The first part is (as you correctly guessed) related to debt. However, understanding the European context and the way government innovation stimulation programs work are essential in understanding why so many European companies choose debt.

    The second part is related to bankruptcy laws which makes the entrepreneur personally liable if the company is financed in tranches. I believe this is what Google's Eric Schmidt referred to in his Telegraph interview ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/78… )

    1) Financing a startup in Europe

    The VC ecosystem in Europe is not nearly as well developed as in the Bay Area. There are not many VC's, the deals tend to less favorable to the entrepreneurs and VC's are more risk averse. For instance, even Tom Tom wasn't able to raise VC money.

    The lack of a VC and angel ecosystem leave European startups with two options to raise money:
    - Bootstrap (e.g. through consultancy)
    - Debt from government innovation programs

    Many startups in Europe (including mine) chose to raise debt from government innovation programs. Although the debt is by a commercial bank, in our case the terms were dictated by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and included starting paying back the loan after one year (devastating for your cash-flow, dramatically reducing the chances of success) and a huge personal fine if the company cannot repay the debt.

    It comes down to what is typical European phenomenon: success is not tolerated, failure is not accepted (the Danish even have a word for this). That's the culture, and culture is what laws are based on. Good luck trying to innovate in Europe.

    2) bankruptcy laws

    According to the law in European countries, financing a company in tranches (seed, series A, B, etc.) is considered mismanagement, making the entrepreneur personally liable for any losses.

    Fortunately, my company was always fully financed and I haven't been held liable for all losses (just the innovation-loan part).

  39. Corporate structure is not relevant in this case. It is a common misconception that a Dutch c corp (BV) protects against personal liability in all cases. As Fernando Gutierrez and other explain, there are many cases where the entrepreneur will be personally liable.

    The Dutch BV structure works well for consultancy, manufacturing and trading companies, less for tech startups. Tech startups are unknown territory in Europe.

  40. Excellent question. I agree with Robert that it is (nearly) impossible to build the next Google in any other place. Furthermore, in most countries you do not get a second chance. If you fail once (like I did), you're done.

    In my case, even if I wanted to start again in Holland, I wouldn't be able to.The next five years I am cannot to open a bank account, or even get a mortgage or buy a mobile phone subscription (how crazy is that??). I believe that in several European countries you won't be able to register a new company x years after closing down a company.

  41. Robert, thanks for the article, I think StartupVisa is a great initiative. Nevertheless, I think your examples don't exactly tell the real story. How can you compare a Burmese top talent from an American university with an unfortunate entrepreneur from Europe? While it may be true that Dutch corporate culture doesn't exactly favour a VC system, that doesn't mean one cannot innovate in Europe. Yes, Google, Yahoo, etc., are all great American success stories, but you should be honest: there are many failures as well that end up being in the exact miserable situation Ronald is in. Over here in Europe we try to prevent people from living in poverty, but you can't always have your cake and eat it. It's just different systems that aren't easy to compare for the average reader. This way, you make it look like Europe is a communist state that is bound to fail. For the record: I'm Dutch, I love Ronald's work and I wish him all the best in the Bay Area. (@Ronald: wazzup dude?)

  42. Robert, FYI, Europe is not one country. There are now 500 million people in Europe. Not all those cultures and countries are 'anti failure'. Please don't make such broad statements about such a complex patchwork.

  43. Robert:

    Thank you very much for bringing further attention to this important issue we have here in America. It’s folks like yourself, Shervin Pishevar, Dave McClure and Brad Feld who are the influencers that will catapult change on this subject.

    It’s very interesting how we promote our country as a melting pot, yet our laws dictate otherwise. The amount of innovation we’d see in this country if the Startup Visa Act was enacted would bring us back to the knowledge-based economy we’re starving to revive across the country.

    We’re very fortunate here in America to have the funding system that we do, ie not owing our investors money back if we fail. An ecosystem culture that supports fast build, fast fail culture exponentially increases the innovation in an ecosystem. Hopefully as we push toward a resolution on this front we’ll see this type of culture – which is wholly needed.

    Hopefully sooner rather than later our political system will realize that the Startup Visa creates new jobs – it doesn’t take jobs away from hard working Americans. Entrepreneurship is what will drive our country out of this recession – not spending packages, unemployment benefits or regulation. Government should get out of the way and provide the platform to allow the creators to create.

    http://www.garywhitehill.com/

  44. thank you for this post, Robert.

    this is the best blog post about tech startups of the year 2010!

    and you touch the core why European Union empire is dying out and will soon break down completely: lack of innovation caused by lack of proper startup culture

    USA is the best! … if you can get there.

  45. Why do you think it is unfair for an equally qualified American citizen to get a job IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY over a resident alien, since that American citizen is indeed taxed with representation?

    You make it sound like this country owes something to the the rest of the people in the world that want to move here. How easy would it be for an American citizen to move to another country and start a company? What hoops to they have to jump through to take a job away from citizens of that country?

  46. Hey Mike, you are absolutely right that Europe consists of many countries with different systems and cultures. However, I'd say that with the exception of the U.K., the cultures *and* laws in most –if not all– European countries are 'anti failure'.

  47. Robert,

    Since you so obviously are prejudiced against Americans who only scored 799 on the SAT can you please tell us all where you would set the SAT cutoff for immigration? Would you let in only those who scored 800, how about 799? What about 795?

    There are thousands of extremely smart Americans who cannot get a job because they are in their 40's and 50's. You really don't understand that the problem is not immigration. The problem is age discrimination.

    Get a clue Robert, because you don't understand the problem.

  48. By definition, we immigrants carry the entrepreneurial gene. It's why we pick up and travel half way round the world to make life better for ourselves. We are the reason why America is able to re-invent itself time and time again. If we continue to be turned away at the door, America will not be able face the challenges of the future. It will stagnate, clinging to the past….

  49. A path to citizenship here should be challenging so that the matter is taken very seriously. Only those people who are willing to do “what it takes” should be allowed to move here, become citizens and vote. Great scores in college should not be the sole prerequisite for living here, moving here, becoming a citizen and earning the right to vote. Just because someone is well educated, does not mean that they understand and appreciate the reasons for which our constitution was written and our country seceded from England. If these people truly desire American citizenship, the path is there. Is it a PITA? Yes, and it should be. If it was not so difficult, then it would not be so respected.

    There are repercussions to every action. I see people arguing that just because a student studied here and they are brilliant that we should somehow make it easier for them to come here for a great job or to launch a new business. Imagine the reality of that action. You will have a naturally born American kid with a Bachelor’s degree in engineering being forced to take a different job than he otherwise might have gotten because that better job was filled by someone with a higher GPA from somewhere outside the US. That is idiotic policy! Didn’t this American kid’s grandfather put on a uniform and fight some god awful war so that his grandson could be given the best possible opportunity in life. America doesn’t owe the world’s brightest minds a damn thing. If they want citizenship badly enough, the path is available.

    What kind of country would we have if we let everyone and anyone into it just because they are great math science students? We would become just like the Europeans that you people are complaining about in this post.

    I would prequalify Aye and Ronald with the question “Would you abandon your new job here or your new company here, put on an American uniform and go shoot someone in your existing country if the American government told you we were now at war with them? If the answer is yes, then by all means come on over. If the answer is no, then they do not have the desire that I would say is a prerequisite.

    If you want to become an American then you had better be willing to give your life in defense of me and my family on any battlefield just as much as I am willing to give mine in defense of yours and the (my-stuff-doesn’t-stink-elitists who think the only qualification for being a good American is an advanced education). Otherwise we (people who love America and take great pride in calling ourselves Americans) do not want you here.

    Saying that we are a nation of immigrants is one of the most thoughtless statements a person can make. Every single country on the face of the earth can say the same thing. Somebody moved there first. They were immigrants. I don’t live in a nation of immigrants. I live in a nation of Americans who take pride in the fact that we call ourselves Americans. I am not so willing to demean that status by giving it to anyone and everyone with a perfect SAT score. There are far more important considerations for citizenship than that pal.

  50. Indeed!

    By the way, as far as I can remember Pierre Omidyar is French-american, not iranian.

  51. Our current immigration policy is just… well, the best word I can come up with for it is retarded. The whole thing needs a serious overhaul. The H1-B program is a DISGRACE. It's the next thing to indentured servitude. I've seen H1-B's told everything from “Your wife will be baby sitting my kids”, “You need to pick up my dry cleaning on the way to work from now on”, “I need someone to clean my house”, and “I don't care how many hours it takes you to do X, you're only getting paid for 40″ and a lot of other shameful things. The mostly, but not always, unspoken threat is “If you don't agree, we'll fire you. You get sent home and we get someone who won't balk or complain.”

    I wish someone would let me write the policy on immigration and naturalization. But it won't change because what we have now is in the favor of the large employers who are the ones who make the donations to our legislators and so no one wants to change it because they want those campaign contributions.

  52. My uncle went to the US to get his MBA (Harvard) but came back to Canada. As a Canadian, I chose a Canadian university for my MBA. After alot of grief trying to open up shop in the US, I started my business here in British Columbia, Canada. It really can amount to a great deal of frustration at times trying to work in the US. Just in case you're curious, I'm also married to a US citizen from San Francisco.

  53. If you are so proud why didn't you sign your name to your comment? Your comment rings partly true, but goes over the line, me thinks. I'm much less interested in the America that can beat up and kill other people and one that can employ Americans and keep jobs on our soil. To me that is the real question of being a “great American.”