Idiocy and brilliance of American policy toward entrepreneurs

Listen to the story of Aye Moah. She grew up in one of the poorest countries on earth. She shouldn’t have many opportunities. Yet here she was, talking with me at a Silicon Valley party after the Always On conference. The route she took? She went to MIT. How did she get in? Was one of the top-scoring students in Burma. One of the top 10, in fact. Then she scored a perfect 800 on the SAT. That’s a cool story alone.

But now keep listening. She is one of the top talented people in the world. The kind that help start companies that hire thousands of people.

Yet she can’t work here in the United States.

Let me get this right. One of the smartest people in an entire country gets an invite to come to the United States to study. Does so. Gets a great education from one of the top universities in the world. And we can’t employ her because of our screwed up immigration laws.

Shame on America.

Even if she were to get a work visa, it probably would be from a bigger company that would treat her poorly (I keep hearing stories of how immigrants are treated like crap and can’t leave, otherwise their work visa will be yanked). These laws are unjust and not American. Worse yet they are anti innovation because it’s these smart, highly educated, people who will start the next companies. It isn’t lost on me that eBay was started by an Iranian.

But, standing next to her was Ronald Mannak. He is an entrepreneur who lost everything he owned. In Holland if your company fails and you’ve taken venture capital you are personally liable for the losses. So, Ronald owes the Dutch government $200,000 and lost everything, even his fridge, he told us.

Here in Silicon Valley it’s different. We let you fail, multiple times, and you aren’t personally liable to the venture capitalists.

So, here, in one video, you have a demonstration of how American policy is both brilliant and idiotic at the same time.

It’s amazing how anti immigrant we’ve become. Stupidly so, too.

This is why I support the Startup Visa project and urge you to support it too.