After Jobs Act, Case turns focus to immigration

WASHINGTON Thu Apr 5, 2012 4:01pm EDT

Revolution CEO Steve Case, who is also the founder of AOL, attends a meeting of U.S. President Barack Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness at the International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers Local Union #5 Training Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania October 11, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Revolution CEO Steve Case, who is also the founder of AOL, attends a meeting of U.S. President Barack Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness at the International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers Local Union #5 Training Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania October 11, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As he gathers with other movers and shakers at the White House on Thursday afternoon to witness President Barack Obama's signing of the Jobs Act, AOL Inc co-founder Steve Case is already thinking ahead to the next cause he can help champion behind the scenes: immigration reform.

"Our work's not done," Case told Reuters in an interview, adding that he would still pause to celebrate the passage of the Jobs Act, intended to help start-up companies raise money and hold initial public offerings. Case lobbied heavily for the new law, milking his connections in the Washington area to build consensus around the legislation.

Now that the Jobs Act is completed, making it easier for highly skilled immigrants to work in the United States is one of the most important issues facing the startup community, said Case, who runs Revolution LLC, a Washington-based venture investment firm. Revolution focuses on Internet plays and has backed companies ranging from deals company LivingSocial to short-term car-rental service Zipcar Inc.

Like many entrepreneurs, he favors legislation that would focus solely on skilled immigrants rather than trying to wrap in the contentious issue of illegal immigration.

Case believes there is a chance Congress could act before the November elections, given the success of the Jobs Act.

"The biggest battle was around the skepticism anything could get done in Washington in an election year," he said. "Momentum begets momentum."

But a narrowed bill may be controversial among some groups. Many constituents including Hispanic voters do not want to separate the issues of highly skilled immigrants from illegal immigrants, believing that pairing the two is the only way that action will be taken on the more difficult issue of illegal immigration.

Despite Case's optimism, Congress remains highly divided, with many members reluctant to pass anything that could be seen as a boon to Obama.

Immigrants founded or cofounded almost half of the 50 top venture-backed companies in the United States, according to a December study by the National Foundation for American Policy.

Of those 50 companies, 23 had at least one immigrant founder, the study found. In addition, 37 of the 50 companies employed at least one immigrant in a key management position such as chief technology officer.

Companies with immigrant founders include some of Silicon Valley's hot startups, such as textbook-rental service Chegg, founded by Indian Aayush Phumbhra and Briton Osman Rashid; online craft marketplace Etsy Inc, founded by Swiss entrepreneur Haim Schoppik; and Web publisher Glam Media, founded by Indians Samir Arora and Raj Narayan.

The countries that supplied the most founders included India, Israel, Canada, Iran and New Zealand, the study found, and the immigrant-founded companies created an average of 150 jobs.

The study looked at the top 50 venture-backed companies as measured by research firm VentureSource, based on factors such as company growth and the amount of capital raised. VentureSource considered only companies valued at less than $1 billion.

Case, who stepped down from the board of what was then called AOL Time Warner in 2003, rules out any eventual run for office. He said he sees his role as a bridge-builder between the political parties and investors.

"Revolution is really the main event," he said. "That's my core competency."

(Reporting By Sarah McBride and Laura MacInnis; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Comments (3)
Warof2010 wrote:

Apr 05, 2012 4:56pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
“Immigrant Founders – The Rest of the Story” – Or “My Rebuttal to the National Foundation for American Policy ‘Study’”

Eighty percent, or 40 out of 50, of the country’s Top 50 Venture-Funded companies had one or more American born founders. No, I didn’t make up the statistic, I found the data and reversed the spin that the pro-immigration faction is trying to promote.

Curiously, the NFAP “study” (provided in the sources below) has a table with the names and birthplace of the foreign-born founders. However, after finding another source for the “Top 50″ data, I find that the NFAP has removed the names of the U.S. born founders and eliminated the companies that did not have a foreign-born founder from the table included in the NFAP “study”.

Considering both tables – the one in the NFAP “study” and the one provided by the WSJ (also in the sources below) – I have found the following:

23 of the 50 companies selected did have one or more foreign-born founders/cofounders; however, 13 of those 23 companies also had one or more American born cofounders. Only 10 of the Top 50 companies did not have an American born cofounder.

Companies “Without a Foreign Born Founder” have employment levels 26% higher than the Top 50 average employment levels.

Companies “Without a American Born Founder” have employment levels 25% lower than the Top 50 average employment levels.

The benefit of employment growth in foreign born cofounded companies is muted by a substantially higher application rate for temporary foreign workers and below average employment levels. Companies with foreign born founders/cofounders (23 of 50) are almost twice as likely to apply for H-1B temporary guestworker visas.

Most of the Top 50 companies (36) are located in California, which has 34.9% population of foreign-born employed in the labor force, so the 31.9% foreign-born founders/cofounders (found in the table below) basically represents the population — the data shows nothing statistically remarkable about foreign-born founders.

Source Data:

National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP)
“Immigrant Founders and Key Personnel In America’s Top Venture-Funded Companies,”

Wall Street Journal
Top 50 Venture-Funded Companies
(This source provided founder data omitted from tables presented by NFAP publication)

Foreign Born Employed in the Labor Force:

Employed Civilian Foreign-Born Labor Force by State: 2007
Appendix Table A.

H-1B LCA Application Data

Apr 05, 2012 7:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
M.C.McBride wrote:
Steve Case, people do not believe your fairy tale arguments for bringing low-skill people into the US. Immigration when unemployment is over 5% is absurd.

Apr 06, 2012 12:16pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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