Silicon Valley is up in arms following news of US President Donald Trump’s 90-day ban of immigrants and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries as well as a 120-day ban of all refugees.
As a powerhouse of the global economy, the US is a top recipient of every other country’s brain drain. This means it attracts the best talent from around the world, from those who arrive as well-connected power brokers to those who come with not much more than raw potential and bootstrap their way to success. So Trump’s ban isn’t only outrageously discriminatory, it’s bad for business. 40% of Fortune 500 companies are owned by immigrants and American companies are filled with hyphenate-American workers with foreign ties, from assembly lines to boardrooms.
Here are 14 US tech and business leaders who were immigrants from the countries listed in Friday’s Executive Order or refugees, which means if they were attempting to enter the country today, they would be turned away due to Trump’s current ban.
Sergey Brin, Google
Andy Grove, Intel
Known as “The Man Who Built Silicon Valley”, one of the US’ most renowned businessmen ever arrived as a Hungarian refugee. “Let’s remember that millions of young people who had the misfortune of being born in the wrong national boundaries are going through all the horrors [that] I had to,” Grove has said. “I made it. Let’s try in a little way to help them make it.” He passed away in March of 2016.
A women’s rights activist and social entrepreneur born in Iraq, Salbi is the founder and former CEO of Women for Women International. She was nominated by former US President Bill Clinton as a “21st Century Heroine” for Harper’s Bazaar in 2011 and listed among the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company in 2016.
Max Levchin, PayPal
An Internet entrepreneur, Levchin co-founded PayPal, formerly served as Chairman of Yelp, and sold Slide to Google. He was also named among the top 1% of angel investors based on strength of network by CB Insights in 2014. Currently, he is the CEO of Affirm, which he co-founded, and serves as Chairman of Glow. He emigrated to the US in 1991 as a refugee. In 2002, he was named “Innovator of the Year” by Technology Review.
Named an “Oustanding American by Choice” in 2012 and awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2016, Pishevar was born in Iran and his father was an enemy of the regime. He is among Forbes’ elite “Midas List” of the smartest investors in tech as co-founder and Managing Director of Sherpa Capital, a venture capital firm that has backed the likes of Airbnb and Uber, and an angel investor that has seeded over 60 companies.
Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia
Khosrowshahi is the CEO of Expedia, a publicly-traded company that owns a spread of online travel brands – including Hotels.com, Travelocity, Orbitz, and Hotwire – whose total assets are worth $9 billion. He emigrated to the US in 1978 with his family as an Iranian refugee.
Omid Kordestani, Twitter
Currently the Executive Chairman of Twitter, Kordestani has prior experience at Google, Vodafone, and Netscape. In 2006, he was listed by Time as one of “100 People Who Shape Our World” and was born in Iran.
Also from Iran, Rowghani is now steering a $700 million growth fund as a partner at Y Combinator, the startup accelerator responsible for stewarding the success of such names as Dropbox and Airbnb. Prior to that, he was the COO of Twitter and CFO and SVP of Strategic Planning at Pixar.
Yazdani is the founder of Saba Software as well as two venture capital firms, Cota Capital and Signature Capital. A well-known investor, he has backed over 100 tech companies, including Google, Salesforce, Dropbox, and Uber.
These Iran-born angel investor twins came to the US at the age of 11 and went on to separately co-found and then sell two different startups to Microsoft. They were also early investors in Facebook and Dropbox and are co-founders of code.org, a nonprofit that helps kids learn computer science.
In 1992, Nozad emigrated to the US from Iran. He was practically homeless, and couldn’t speak English. Today, he is a venture capitalist whose fund has invested in over 30 startups. In 2012, Forbes called him one of Silicon Valley’s “greatest connectors”.
Thong Nguyen, Bank of America
With a career spent scaling the corporate ladder, Nguyen is the President of Retail Banking and Co-head of Consumer Banking at the second-largest financial institution in the country. His family fled Vietnam and emigrated to the US as refugees in 1975.
Kayongo is a social entrepreneur who is currently CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Named a Top 100 CNN Hero in 2011, he fled the Ugandan civil war with his family and moved to the U.S. as a refugee at the age of 22.
This serial entrepreneur’s current venture, a slideshow app, boasts 36 million active users per month and has raised over $70 million of venture capital funding. In 2005, he sold the company he co-founded as a class project in business school for $525 million. He was born in Iran.
Laszlo Bock, Work Rules!
The former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google was a refugee. He now works as an advisor, is the author of Work Rules!, and the winner of best subtweet of 2017 so far.
BONUS: Children of refugees or immigrants from countries banned by Trump’s Executive Order
Steve Jobs, Apple
An adopted child, Jobs’ biological father was a Syrian immigrant who would not have been allowed to enter the US under Trump’s current ban. Jobs went on to start a technology company you might know.
Pierre Omidyar, eBay
Chan is a pediatrician, co-founder and CEO of The Primary School, and co-founder of a $45 billion-valued philanthropic venture that works on “advancing human potential and promoting equality” (and yes, the better half to a certain tech tycoon). She is also a child of refugees from China and Vietnam. Today, the boats they arrived in would have been turned away at the border.
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