Sci & Tech

Talent, Trump and Truculence

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President Donald Trump’s executive order does not take into account how much immigrants have helped build Silicon Valley
Companies like Periscope, Dropbox, Paypal and Oracle all benefited from Iranian hard work and effort.
Companies like Periscope, Dropbox, Paypal and Oracle all benefited from Iranian hard work and effort.
DropBox, developed by Arash Ferdowsi, incubated by Amidi was a big success story

Donald Trump’s controversial order that Iranians and people from six other countries are banned from entering the US for a 90-day period ostensibly tries to paint a poor picture of people from those countries. 

The executive order bars citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen -- or at least 218 million people, based on 2015 data published by the World Bank -- from entering the United States. Those countries were named in a 2016 law concerning immigration visas as “countries of concern,” according to CNN.

However, since protests held across the US and many other countries about the decision, the executive order had to be clarified that US dual citizens and Green Card holders would not be barred or interrogated upon  entering America. 

However, in the case of Iran, which is the largest group effected by the ban, Silicon Valley has felt the heat more than others, as Iranians have long been a key  component of the US high-tech sector. 

What the Trump team seemingly fails to understand about this group of Iranians, which now number in the millions in the US, is that they are the founders and top executives of some of his country’s best known companies. 

 Biggest Online Auction 

Take eBay for example, founded by the child of Iranian immigrants, Pierre Omidyar, went on to create the biggest online auction site in the world, which runs in over two dozen countries. According to Forbes, Omidyar was worth around $8.1 billion in 2016 -- $100 million more than Trump. 

Periscope, the live Internet video streaming app, was also cofounded by a person of Iranian heritage in California. Created in 2009, Periscope has gone on to become the biggest online live-streaming app with millions of daily users. When users now load the app, they see a simple message from \\Keyvon Beykpour:  “proudly made by immigrants.”

Then you have Omid Kordestani, another Internet success who was born in Iran. Kordestani is a notable example of immigrant success for he has been part of several successful companies over the years. 

He joined Google in May 1999, leading the development and implementation of the company’s initial business model and was Google’s senior vice president of worldwide sales and field operations until April 2009.Currently he is executive chairman of Twitter, something that Trump loves to use to castigate, scold, advise and attack his opponents big and small. 

There is Salar Kamangar, who was the seventh person to be employed by Google in 1998. It’s acquisition of YouTube was partly down to this émigré who managed to merge the two platforms back in the early 2000s. 

Saeed Amidi, an émigré who moved to the US in the 1980s and created the now-famous Plug & Play Tech Center. Plug and Play is a West Coast technology accelerator and investor which counts DropBox, Zoosk and SoundHound as portfolio companies. It also invested seed funding into PayPal in its early days, and gained shares in that company. That’s worth now hundreds of millions of dollars.

DropBox, developed by Arash Ferdowsi, incubated by Amidi was also a success story. That website went on to become one of the biggest virtual storage facilities in the global market. 

Take the case of Robert Nimrod “Bob” Miner. He was born to an Iranian Assyrian family in the US, his heritage hailed from West Azerbaijan. Oracle, the technology company he cofounded has a net equity today worth just under $48 billion dollars. 

The list is long and can go on forever, but the people mentioned above already add up to a hundreds of billions of dollars in the US economy. 

Iranians contribution to that country and society has been immense. The recent moves by Trump, which have been deplored publicly even by most of America’s closest western allies, will likely have a spiraling effect in terms of overall investment. 

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