One of the most avidly anticipated presentations is Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends presentation. This year she had deep dives into India, China, and Healthcare. The two slides that caught my attention, though, were the importance of immigrants to technology companies. Specifically, she evaluated the percent of top companies with first or second-generation American founders.
Amongst the top 25 US technology publics by market cap, 60% were founded by a first or second-generation American such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or Sergey Brin. These fifteen firms employ 1 1/2 million.
Even more impressive, the top five global publics by market cap are all US technology firms, of which four of the five have at least one first or second generation founder.
When looking at private technology firms, around 50% of the top firms by valuation were founded by first-generation Americans.
US technology firms have benefited from immigrant founders and employees along with access to global markets. Calls to restrict immigration will result in restricted access to foreign markets combined with a greater outsourcing of development jobs overseas. While H1-B visas need to be re-calibrated to ensure that the visas are awarded to high-demand, highly skilled positions, immigration is vital to US economic vitality.