Here’s How VCs Reacted To The Immigration Ban Chaos

VCs are an inseparable part of the Silicon Valley. They represent both the diversity of the place and give it voice. Here are some of the most unique comments and reactions to the order barring refugees and visa holders from seven countries from entering the U.S., collected from some of the leading voices in the venture capital community:

Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator

The tech community is powerful.  Large tech companies in particular have enormous power and are held in high regard.  We need to hear from the CEOs clearly and unequivocally.  Although there is some business risk in doing so, there is strength in numbers—if everyone does it early this coming week, we will all make each other stronger.

Tech companies go to extraordinary lengths to recruit and retain employees; those employees have a lot of leverage.  If employees push companies to do something, I believe they’ll have to.

At a minimum, companies should take a public stance.  But talking is only somewhat effective, and employees should push their companies to figure out what actions they can take.  I wish I had better ideas here, but we’re going to have a meeting on Friday at Y Combinator to discuss.  I’d love to see other tech companies do the same.

Almost every member of the GOP I have spoken to knows that these actions are wrong.  Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, Kevin McCarthy and James Mattis said so themselves when Trump first proposed his Muslim ban.  We need to remind anyone involved in this administration that, for the rest of their lives, they will have to explain why they were complicit in this.

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Michael Moritz, Partner at Sequoia Capital

Here is a brief list of what would not have been invented in the US if this executive order had been part of the country’s legal framework: the best software system for managing internet security; the world’s most accurate pulse oximetry devices which, among other things, have saved the lives of countless newborns; the semiconductor chips that brought colour to personal computers; the internet’s first advertising co-operative; the initial commercial advancement of hyperloop transport; and the country’s leading online grocery service.

Then, of course, there are the management contributions to some of the best technology companies made by people who fled oppressive regimes in the blacklisted countries. The first business plan and commercial operation of the world’s leading search engine were engineered by young Middle Eastern refugees. The finance function of the best animated moviemaker was led by a man who had a similar background, as had the person who oversaw hundreds of engineers working at the world’s first internet directory.

The world’s most valuable technology company, Apple — a business now being relentlessly harassed by Mr Trump to make decisions that will only hurt American consumers, was founded — and resurrected — by Steve Jobs, a man whose biological father (or, as Jobs preferred to say, “sperm donor”), was Syrian and Muslim.

Neeraj Agrawal, general partner at Battery Ventures

With the new administration reportedly considering further restrictions on H-1B visas for skilled foreign workers, and possibly other programs, I worry that promising technologists who might start the next Google or Netflix may have trouble getting into, or staying in, the U.S. in the future. And that could deprive our country of a great deal of economic growth and new jobs.

This has been on my mind partly because one foreign-born entrepreneur I invested in, Jyoti Bansal, was in the news for a huge achievement last week. The company he founded — IT-monitoring software outfit AppDynamics  — agreed to be bought by Cisco for $3.7 billion, making it the largest-ever acquisition of a private software company, according to investment bank Qatalyst.

AppDynamics, which has more than 1,000 employees, was actually scheduled to go public, but Cisco swooped in at the 11th hour and bought the company instead.

Bansal first came to the U.S. using one of these H-1B visas; currently, they’re capped at 85,000 new visas per year, despite overwhelming demand by U.S. companies for more. Bansal then waited seven years to get a green card, which let him leave his job to start his own company. “I was fascinated with the concept of startups and creation, and wanted to work for a startup company in America,” he told an interviewer last year.

At least one immigration policy group is also saying it’s possible the new president could restrict the little-known—but hugely important–Optional Practical Training program, which allows foreign students studying an STEM-related field in the U.S. to get jobs after graduating and stay in this country for up to 36 months while working.

The U.S. is competing for the next generation of company founders on a global playing field, and we should be doing everything we can to encourage bright students to stay here and work post-graduation. How can we expect a high-achieving, 18-year-old student graduating from a foreign high school make such a bet with his or her life when our immigration policy is so volatile?

We need to tell these young people they are welcome here. With the tech industry accounting for more than 7.1 percent of overall U.S. GDP and 11.4 percent of total U.S. private-sector payroll—and growing—this is a competition we can’t afford to lose.

Dave Mcclure, Founding Partner, 500 startups

If you work for Facebook, Google, or Twitter you can talk to leadership and tell them you don’t support allowing fake news articles to be published or monetized on your platforms, and that anonymous hate speech and bot accounts are polluting your products and tools, and twisting mission and purpose to misinform people and fear and hate each other.

Above all, do not take this behavior for granted, nor treat it like it’s anything but abnormal and abhorrent.

You should assume you will be next in line for having freedom & liberty stripped away by imperial decree. While this particular executive order may not directly impact you or those you love, it has no place in our open society. You will of course realize this more acutely when it’s your butt that is about to be whipped.

There is no one to blame but ourselves for the mess we are now in. Get off your ass and make a difference, before the shining city on a hill becomes a shadow of its former self.

Peter Thiel, Investor and one of Trumps’ backers

Thiel released a statement from his spokesman Jeremiah Hall:

Peter doesn’t support a religious test, and the administration has not imposed one

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Assaf Gilad

An ex-journalist from Calcalist, a leading business and tech news outlet in Israel, I'm now writing about startups for