THERE has been a very big reaction and backlash from the tech community in the United States to US President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.
More than any industry, tech thrives on open sharing and getting the very best, and it is truly a business that will thrive only when it is given free rein. Do not create artificial barriers, but give opportunities to let the best win.
It is no wonder. It is estimated that over half of the startups in Silicon Valley valued at over $1 billion were founded by immigrants, and in many of these companies now, many of their best engineers are also immigrants.
Steve Jobs was born of Syrian immigrants, while Yahoo’s founder was Chinese, Intel’s Hungarian, Ebay’s Iranian, and Facebook’s German/Polish. Google was partly founded by a son of a Russian immigrant, while Hotmail was started by an Indian.
Tesla was founded by a South African while tech pioneer Borland International before was run by a French national. YouTube was partly founded by entrepreneurs of Taiwanese and Bangladeshi descent. Waze and Checkpoint are from Israel, while Skype is from Estonia.
Of course, we take pride also that one of the earliest makers of popular PC chipsets, Chips and Technologies, and video accelerator S3 were founded by Philippine entrepreneur Dado Banatao in Silicon Valley.
Now, Google and Microsoft are also headed by Indian CEOs. And as I was writing this, it was reported that Filipino Wesley So, at only 23 years, is now one of the world’s top five chess grandmasters. And he is known and billed as an American.
The United States is not crediting how much it is benefs from foreign talent.
The other statistic that I read was that there are now over 370,000 students in China who are studying in US schools, and they contributed over $11.7 billion to the American economy in 2015 alone.
First, why is America turning them away? Second, why can’t we attract them? Of course, Philippine schools have less prestige, but we can teach them preparatory English and can immensely help them get into American, Australian or Canadian universities.
And not only the United States, but the Philippines should continue to be more open. When I see Chinese or Korean entrepreneurs, Japanese engineers, and Indian tech managers working here in Cebu, I see them not taking away Filipino jobs, but enhancing and creating them.
When Americans invest in a tech company here, we always appreciate their bringing in capital, but the most important thing about these companies is they help train Filipinos to be more professional.
The presence of these companies has elevated our talent pool, and it is easier (though more expensive) to hire very good engineers and managers now than 15 years ago.