The relations between Donald Trump and Silicon Valley have never exactly been warm. They’ve been downright icy ever since the 45thUS president decided to ban immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries on January 27: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The leaders of huge Californian companies have since taken position against the measure, some going as far as protesting at airports to show their indignation. These bosses know that the cradle of their success, the legendary San Francisco bay, couldn’t exist without immigration. And there are five good reasons to believe that:
More than half of American startups are founded by immigrants
That was the conclusion of a study published by the independent think tank National Foundation for American Policy in March 2016. It focused on the 87 American startups worth at least $1 billion on January 1, 2016. These companies, which included Uber, Tesla and Palantir, have created thousands of jobs in the US and have injected billions of dollars into the American economy. Their founders come from countries as diverse as India, Canada, China, and Israel. One of other founders of Google, Sergey Brin, is Russian.
It’s largely immigrants that operate tech companies
As the Washington Post underlines in an article, a large part of the 250,000 Muslims living in the San Francisco bay area are immigrants. That includes employees of companies like Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft. Many Silicon Valley employees had personal stakes in Donald Trump’s “anti-Muslim” decree. The CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, himself an immigrant from India, confirmed in an internal company memo that the president’s measures could affect 187 of its employees. In the US, more than two thirds of IT and mathematics employees are immigrants.
The Iranian community plays a key role
The Iranian community is particularly influential in the bay area. Some of its members occupy key jobs at the heart of Silicon Valley. Omid Kordestani, for example, is the CEO of Twitter. A Californian newspaper, The Mercury News, published ten of his tweets.
Silicon Valley’s biggest star is of Syrian origin
According to the New York Times obituary of Steve Jobs, the Apple cofounder’s biological father is a Syrian named Abdulfattah Jandali. The famous designer of the Macintosh computer embodies the legendary aura that surrounds Silicon Valley. He’s considered a visionary creator, and sometimes even a genius. His work with Apple has had a decisive impact on cultural industries and their conversion to the digital era.
An international success is built in an international manner
According to the cofounder of the social network Instagram, Mike Krieger, innovative and largely unifying ideas require several perspectives. Interviewed by the New York Times, Krieger says that the quasi-absence of text on the social network is one of the reasons that Instagram has met with immediate and international success. Himself Brazilian, he knew that heavy use of English would hinder the adoption of Instagram in most regions of the world.