* Immigration key to creating U.S. jobs, Case believes
* Action by Congress this year is possible -Case
* Case rules out run for political office
By Sarah McBride
WASHINGTON, April 5 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:
"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
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
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
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
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