According to the Office of Immigration Statistics, over one million immigrants come to the United States annually looking for better jobs and a brighter future. And while they have to overcome a lot of challenges adapting to life in a new place, many of them—especially those who find their way into the tech industry—manage really well. Data reveal that not only do foreign-born individuals make up almost one-fourth of all STEM workers in the country, but they’ve also founded more than half of American tech companies, including many of those on the Fortune 500 list. These are undoubtedly impressive numbers, especially considering that immigrants account for only 13,7% of the U.S. population. Let's look back at some of the well-known names.
15 Tech Companies Founded by Immigrants or Their Children
These are just a few examples of immigrant-founded companies which generate millions of dollars in revenue and create thousands of jobs:
Founder / Co-Founder: Sergey Brin was born in Moscow, Russia.
Number of employees: 150,000+
Founder / Co-Founder: Pierre Omidyar was born in Paris to Iranian parents.
Number of employees: 10,800
Founder / Co-Founder: John and Patrick Collison are from Ireland.
Revenue: nearly $12B
Number of employees: 4,000+
Founder / Co-Founder: Elon Musk spent his childhood in Pretoria, South Africa.
Number of employees: 12,000
Founder / Co-Founder: Garret Camp is from Canada.
Number of employees: 29,300
Founder / Co-Founder: Jerry Yang was born in Taipei, Taiwan.
The number of employees: 8,600
Founder / Co-Founder: Robert Nimrod Miner has Assyrian parents.
Number of employees: 132,000
Founder / Co-Founder: Eric Yuan grew up in China.
Number of employees: 6,787
Founder / Co-Founder: Jensen Huang was born in Taiwan.
Number of employees: 22,473
Founder / Co-Founder: Eli Harari is from Israel and Sanjay Mehrotra is from India.
Number of employees: 8,790
Founder / Co-Founder: Stepan Pachikov was born in Azerbaijan and lived in Russia until the 90s.
Number of employees: 251
Founder / Co-Founder: Alex Shevchenko, Max Lytvyn, and Dmytro Lider are from Ukraine.
Number of employees: 968
Founder / Co-Founder: Apoorva Mehta was born in India and lived in Libya and Canada.
Number of employees: 10,000
Founder / Co-Founder: Ali Ghodsi was born in Iran and grew up in Sweden.
Number of employees: 3,000
Founder / Co-Founder: Al Goldstein is from Uzbekistan.
Number of employees: 500+
Founders from all over the world are not the only reason the US technology industry is immigrant-friendly. Let's take a look at what else makes it an excellent career choice for foreign-born professionals.
Why Immigrants to the US Should Consider Working in Tech
Tech is a great place to build a career in a new country. Jobs in this industry are generally well-paid, provide plenty of opportunities for professional growth, and come with perks such as flexible working hours or the possibility to work from home. Besides, tech companies often employ professionals from many countries, so immigrants are likely to feel more comfortable in the international working environment.
And breaking into tech is not as difficult as many foreign-born workers think. There are three main reasons for this:
- Shortage of skilled professionals. Organizations struggle to find enough qualified employees as the tech sector grows rapidly. And the talent shortage will become more acute in the upcoming years. Research from the Korn Ferry Institute forecasts a deficit of 600,000 to 1.2 million IT workers in the United States by 2030. In this situation, tech companies are not able to fill all open positions with American professionals alone. That means immigrants with the right skill set are more than welcomed in teams.
- Diversity is highly valued in tech. Tech companies know that diverse teams solve problems faster, produce better products, and are more likely to come up with innovative solutions. That’s why managers are so willing to hire people with different backgrounds and experiences. And executives support creating a company culture with equal opportunities for all employees regardless of their race or nationality.
- There is a great variety of jobs. There is a common misconception that working in tech is limited to programming. However, many jobs do not require writing code or possessing a degree in Computer Science. Tech companies also need designers, marketers, HR professionals, project managers, copywriters, salespeople, finance workers, etc. So, even if becoming a software developer is not what you want, you can still find a suitable career in tech.
As you can see, opportunities are endless. And almost anybody can break into the industry if they’re ready to invest enough time and effort. It wouldn't be fair, though, if we didn’t mention the challenges foreign-born professionals can face when looking for a job in tech. So, let's now talk about what they are and how to overcome them.
Challenges Immigrants Face in Tech
When looking for their first job in tech, immigrants to the US often struggle with these three obstacles:
- Lack of language proficiency. With English as their second language, many professionals have difficulty expressing themselves. They don't feel confident in interviews and fail to make a good first impression. However, it is essential to understand that different jobs require different levels of language proficiency. If you are applying for the QA Engineer role, for example, nobody would care that you can't speak like a native speaker. So, focus on what you can offer as a professional and don't worry too much about the language. It will quickly improve if you use it daily.
- Skill gaps. It is not uncommon that even professionals who had worked in tech before immigrating lack certain skills needed to do a similar job in their new country. Technology is rapidly evolving. And it is undoubtedly a good idea to conduct research and upskill where necessary before beginning the job search process.
- Limited familiarity with the local labor market. Another possible challenge arises from immigrants' lack of knowledge about the job search best practices in a new country. They may keep making mistakes that can be easily avoided and not get shortlisted for desired positions. That is why it is so important to get familiar with the market first. Networking, finding a mentor, or enrolling in training programs with local institutions are great ways to do that.
Of course, building a tech career in a new country is not easy. However, it brings a lot of exciting opportunities. Maybe you will not start a Fortune 500 company, but two things are certain. First, you will have a rewarding job with a good salary. And second, you will work with many interesting people from different parts of the world.