Is Silicon Valley Experiencing a Brain Drain?

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
Looking west over northern San Jose (downtown ...
Image via Wikipedia

For all the people who have been complaining…fearing… that foreigners take away jobs from Americans, you don’t have to worry this year and who knows about the years to come. 


According to Daya Baran, this year, 2009, the petitions that were received  filled only half of the 65,000 available visas. Why are skilled professionals moving out of opting to go home, instead of applying to stay in the US? Why aren’t they coming here anymore – in large numbers –  from abroad  to realize their high tech-dreams?


There could be several reasons: the recession, the fact that life here is incredibly expensive, the availability of the Internet and the fact that you can create a business anywhere you have a lap top and wireless, plus a good brain, of course.


Whatever the reasons be, the brain drain that we are experiencing  here is not good for our creativity, our economy , our constant innovations and the structure of our diverse society. Let’s hope that our current government sees the need for retaining the foreign Master’s and PhD students who are now leaving the US and for creating incentives to attract more of the skilled labor force in Math and Science  that we need here to come and apply for the rest of the remaining visas.



Share This Post

Is the US making a mistake limiting H-1B visas?

Sunday, April 12th, 2009
Image by via Flickr

The New York Times is currently featuring a series on skilled foreign-born workers and their limited access to H-1B visas. The Times raises the question whether these highly skilled foreign-born workers plus foreign students who have finished their degrees in US colleges should get some kind of permanent work status or have to leave and go back home?

In theory, this would give job openings to US citizens. However, because the US is not keeping up with the Indians, for example, in Math and Computer Science, can Americans fill the jobs that the high tech sector needs to stay not only competitive, but also ahead of the curve?

We need immigrant expertise to keep Silicon Valley moving forward; as the Times says: Many innovators in Silicon Valley come from overseas; 42 percent of engineers with master’s degrees and 60 percent of those with engineering Ph.D.’s in the United States are foreign-born.

Do we want these trained professionals to go home to their native countries, or do we want to share in their success with them – benefiting not only from their contributions to our tech sector (and other sectors, of course) but even in the taxes they are paying once they have made it in their fields.

The limit on H1-B visas was raised from 65,000 two times as the technology sector boomed, to 115,000 in 1999 and to 195,000 in 2001. But the number of H-1B visas reverted to 65,000 in 2004. (There are an additional 20,000 H1-B’s for people with graduate degrees from American universities.)

However, since the year 2004, there has been a growing gap between the number of H-1B visas companies look to get and those that are assigned to them through a lottery.

In 2008, companies made 163,000 applications for the 65,000 available visas. And, if I remember correctly, those were gone within a day.

Can we afford to limit the number of H 1-B visas or would we, the US, not benefit from giving qualified, highly educated immigrants the visas they need to help keep this country in the forefront of high tech and economic development?

Share This Post

Visualization of Web 2.0 – Conversation Prism/Solis

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

I think the way Brian Solis makes social media touchable for all of us is just amazing. Here is his

conversation prism guide to social media. He says: You + Me + Mutual Value = <3  



convoprismembed Visualization of Web 2.0 Conversation Prism/Solis


The Conversation Prism by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas


Share This Post

Lost Generation- an amazing video that gives us hope

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Watch this video,  it is a testament to our youth; they will have to come and clean up our mess after us.

Share This Post

13 Great and Proven Ways to Moderate a Panel with 100% Success Rate

Friday, July 9th, 2010
Panelists participate at the 2008 Dr. Paul Jan...
Image via Wikipedia

Research your panel subject and find out and define the latest trends.

Prepare more questions than you think you will need, it isn’t good [and pretty stressful] to run out. However, with a smart panel, that is very unlikely to happen.

Send the questions to the panel members ahead of time and encourage them to submit questions of their own.

Contact all panel members ahead of time per telephone, agree on their areas of expertise and which questions they want to answer; in addition, see if there is some challenging issue they would like to raise to make the panel more interesting. At the event, introduce panel members to each other 15 minutes or so before start time so that they can get to know and feel comfortable with each other.

Don’t prepare a lengthy introduction, the moderator should facilitate the panel, not push his/her own opinions.

Tell the audience what you are going to do in the allotted time, and encourage audience members to ask questions during the event. If people wait until the end, they can either forget what they were going to ask, or can see the whole event as a [tedious?] lecture. Remember, moderating a panel is having a conversation with the audience as well as with the panelists.

You can ask the panelists to introduce themselves with a couple of words, before they answer the first questions. Don’t read their bios out loud, it is often embarrassing for the accomplished panelist and it wastes time. Audience members can look their bios up online after the event.

Ask each question only of one or two panelists and then move on to the next question for other panelists. Never have all panelists answer every question; it can be a really boring process and it not fair to the panelists.

Make sure you present your panelists in a very good light, you are there to make them shine and never to embarrass them.However, that doesn’t mean you have to let them get away with evading issues.

Prepare to cut a panelist off gently if he/she starts to ramble. There is nothing worse than someone going on and on – except for an audience member who does the same thing.

Ask a couple of questions of the panelists at the beginning of the event and then let the audience know that now would be a good time for their first questions. If the audience has more, relevant questions and the panelists are interested in answering them, let your own questions slide. It is more important to have a good event where everyone participates and is engaged, than getting through your own agenda.

Make sure that the panelists address their points to the audience and not to the moderator or their fellow panelists. Otherwise this will look like a private event and people will disconnect.

Never disagree with the audience, they will never forgive you. Find a way to incorporate the point raised into the discussion so that it makes sense [which is almost always possible].

Know when to stop. First of all, stick to the time you agreed on to stop, give a summary of the points that were made, thank the panelists, thank the audience and don’t forget to thank the organizers and the people who let you use their facilities.

Lastly, have fun. If a moderator is enjoying him/herself the audience can feel it and will join in.

PS: There are lots of good articles online about moderating panels, it is worthwhile reading several of them to incorporate all their good ideas!

Share This Post

Free the H-1Bs, Free the Economy – Vivek Wadhwa/August 2009

Friday, November 13th, 2009

I just found this troublesome article [in TechCrunch] by  Vivek Wadhwa, who in other articles frequently points out to us that our immigrants, the ones who come here, get incredible degrees, found companies, develop patents, are now going home, back to their countries to live a life in a community that values them more. I present the article in its entirety because any comment  or excerpt of mine would not do it justice.


This is a guest post [August 2009] by Vivek Wadhwa, an entrepreneur turned academic. He is a Visiting Scholar at UC-Berkeley, Senior Research Associate at Harvard Law School and Executive in Residence at Duke University. Follow him on Twitter at @vwadhwa.


I have a suggestion for our President on how to boost economic growth without spending a penny: Free the H-1B’s.


More than a million doctors, engineers, scientists, researchers, and other skilled workers and their families in the U.S. are stuck in “immigration limbo.” They entered the country legally and have contributed disproportionately to our nation’s competitiveness. They paid our high taxes and have been model citizens. All they want to do is to share the American dream and help us grow our economy.


They could be starting companies, buying houses, building community centers, and splurging like Americans. But because we don’t have enough permanent-resident visas (green cards) for them, they’re stuck in the same old jobs they had maybe a decade ago when they entered this country. They are getting really frustrated and many are returning to their home countries to becomeunwilling competitors. And they are taking our economic recovery with them.


Xenophobes will claim that immigrants take jobs away and blame them for everything that is wrong in their lives and in America. But as TechCrunch wrote last week, skilled immigrants create more jobs than they take away. That is a fact. My research team documented that one quarter of all technology and engineering startups nationwide from 1995 to 2005 were started by immigrants. In Boston, it was 31%, in New York, 44%, and in Silicon Valley an astonishing 52%. In 2005, these immigrant founded companies employed 450,000 workers. Add it up. That’s far more than all the tech workers we gave green cards to in that period.


It’s not only jobs that they’ve created. In 2006, more than 25% of U.S. global patents had authors who were born abroad – and this doesn’t even count people like me, who came here, became citizens, and then filed multiple patents. Of Qualcomm’s global patents, 72% had foreign-born authors, as did 65% of Merck’s, 64% of GE’s, and 60% of Cisco’s. I’m not talking about silly patents filed with the U.S. Patent Office here, I’m talking about WIPO PCT  applications – the patents that help our companies compete globally.


Why does Silicon Valley need a foreign-born workforce? Because these immigrants are able come to a foreign land where they face hardship and discrimination and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the world’s best technical minds and most successful entrepreneurs.  They are able motivate Silicon Valley’s top guns to work even harder and think smarter. They add a global perspective and enrich America.


The largest immigrant founding groups are Indian, British, and Chinese. Indian-born immigrants, for example, founded 6.7% of America’s tech companies and 15.5% of those in Silicon Valley — but, according to the U.S. census, constitute way less than 1% of the U.S. population. So do the Chinese, but they contribute to 16.8% of our global patents. It doesn’t take a statistician to figure that these are pretty impressive numbers.


Yes, I know that H-1B’s don’t start companies. And that is the problem. We don’t let them.


Hundreds of thousands of mostly very smart and highly educated workers who could be starting companies are not. While they wait for their green cards, they can’t even change jobs or accept a promotion, for fear of losing their turn in line. If they lose their job, they have zero days to find another one – or get booted out of the country. Their employers know that these workers aren’t going anywhere, so they can go easy on the salary increases and bonuses. Some unscrupulous employers do take advantage of them. And their spouses usually can’t work, and in some states can’t even get drivers licenses, because they don’t have social-security numbers. Does this sound like America?


Unlike the daunting economic problems facing the country, this problem is easy to fix. Just increase the number of green cards for skilled workers. Maybe let them cut the line if they buy a house or start a company that employs a bunch of Americans. My guess is that we’ll get tens of thousands of startups and a couple of hundred thousand houses sold. That is a bigger economic boost than the clunkers program we’ve just thrown $2 billion dollars at.

Share This Post

Brazilian Vision of How Individuals and Companies Should Be Using Social Media [via SLIDESHARE]

Monday, August 10th, 2009
Brazilian states numered map.
Image via Wikipedia

This presentation on slideshare from , [muito bem feito] looks at what is so special about social media. Interesting to see how we and our social media participation are seen from other cultures’ view point. In fact they point out that companies still “don’t get it” and need to understand that social media is there for:


  • 1. PR
  • 2. Customer Service
  • 3. Loyalty Building
  • 4. Collaboration
  • 5. Networking
  • 6. Thought Leadership
  • C7. lient Acquisition

View more .

For companies or professional groups who have not woken up to the fact that social media – in some shape or form – are here to stay, this is a great presentation showing how to look at social media and its effects on business.

Share This Post

Jack Welsh’s “Lebensweisheit” : The 10 Leadership Principles

Saturday, August 8th, 2009
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I read an interesting, short article that Peter Isackson wrote for the Intercultural Insights Group, he brought up the simple yet profound leadership principles that Jack Welsh developed in his time as CEO at GE. Are they as relevant today as they were when he wrote them?

*1.* There is only one way ˆ the straight way. It sets the tone of the

*2.* Be open to the best of what everyone, everywhere, has to offer;
transfer learning across your organization.
*3.* Get the right people in the right jobs ˆ it is more important than
developing a strategy.
*4.* An informal atmosphere is a competitive advantage.
*5.* Make sure everybody counts and everybody knows they count.
*6.* Legitimate self-confidence is a winner ˆ the true test of
self-confidence is the courage to be open.
*7.* Business has to be fun ˆ celebrations energise an organisation.
*8.* Never underestimate the other guy.

*9.* Understand where real value is added and put your best people there.
*10.* Know when to meddle and when to let go ˆ this is pure instinct.

I think that #4 is a point that would be debatable in Europe and Asia – what do you think, is the business trend toward informality or do these societies still want the hierarchic distance?
And, the notion of having fun [#7] when working as a prerequisite to working creatively and energetically still has not penetrated the minds of the many of the older kinds of organizations, but I think that without fun, why would people want to do their best work for a company?

When I present to foreign companies, and I mention that in the US, having fun is often a goal, I frequently get dismissive looks and comments that this is not something serious and as such isn’t important. Too bad, for as long as the notion of fun is still considered frivolous, it won’t happen.

Share This Post

UBERGIZMO Silicon Valley’s Greatest Gadget Blog:Personal Interview

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Hubert et Eliane, les leaders de UbergizmoYesterday (June 21, 2009), I had a chance to catch up with Eliane and Hubert, the Co-Founders of Ubergizmo, they are passionate about their business which came about – as many things do in Silicon Valley – by accident as they were developing their blog. Listen to hear more about their ideas and experiences (in French).

“Voici l’interview avec Eliane et Hubert qui nous parlent de leur société, leurs rêves et leur expérience en tant que créateurs d’entreprise web 2.0, une des activités les plus passionnante de la Silicon Valley.”

UBERGIZMO Silicon Valley’s Greatest Gadget Blog (en francais)

Share This Post

Even though we need foreign-born professionals here in the US, the H-1B visa hounds are after them again.

Monday, May 18th, 2009
Looking west over northern San Jose (downtown ...
Image via Wikipedia

As Vivek Wadhwa said in Business Week, “For the third year running, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have taken aim at immigrant labor.”  It seems that both of these senators want to “reduce the abuse” of the high tech companies that hire cheaper, foreign labor in the place of more expensive, skilled American workers. The bill would mandate that employers hiring H-1B visa holders would have to swear that they did a good faith search for an American who could fill the job, but one could not be found; in addition, 1% of the companies hiring H-1B visa holders would be audited.


What will that produce? As Wadhwa points out, large companies will slowly feel more and more constricted hiring employees through the H-1B program. And where will that leave us, in the US in general and especially in Silicon Valley?  If we look at the Silicon Valley Index, 2009, 36% of our population here is foreign born; it is a fact  that 50% of all start-ups founded here have an immigrant or a first generation founder and according to a study by the National Association of Venture Capitalists: Immigrant-founded venture-backed public companies today employ an estimated 220,000 people in the United States and

over 400,000 people globally.


Can we really afford to turn away potential employers and contributors to our economic success? Maybe the senators should think again.



Share This Post