Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
[flagged] Show HN: H1B Valley – A gallery of successful immigrant founded startups (h1bvalley.com)
39 points by shsachdev 20 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 53 comments

I get what you are trying to accomplish, but this really isn't the problem your opponents have with the H1B program.

From the H1B website[1]

The intent of the H-1B provisions is to help employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce by authorizing the temporary employment of qualified individuals who are not otherwise authorized to work in the United States.

Now let's look at the top 10 companies that sponsor H1B visas:

  Deloitte & Touche               16,409
  Tata Consultancy Services       14,604
  Cognizant Technology Solutions  13,074
  infosys                         11,591
  IBM                              8,344
  Ernst & Young                    6,893
  Capgemini                        6,739
  Google                           6,656
  Tech Mahindra (Americas)         6,464
  Accenture                        6,381
Here is the problem. Only two of the companies on this list aren't body shops, and IBM might actually be a body shop depending on which division is bring in the H1B.

Immigrants are a good thing, but the continued deceptive practices used by these companies to not hire people from the US is a problem. This is what your opponents are going to focus on and push forward. Disney bringing in H1B holders to replace workers, and the courts siding with Disney did not help the immigration story in the US.

It doesn't matter what good former H1B holders did if your kid / spouse / you got fired and replaced by cheaper H1B labor that you had to train to do your job. If you don't solve that problem then they will ignore any "how good it is" arguments.

1) https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/immigration/h1b

I too get what you are trying to accomplish. But the vast majority of anti-h1b crowd doesn't have anything even close to the reasoned arguments and critique you offered. The knee-jerk reaction is largely: h1b = cheap labor = takes away "my job" => I need to bay for Indian blood. Just watch Lou Dobbs or his ilk...

Like with many things today, nuance is all but non-existent in this argument.

Nuance does go out the window when you or yours lose the means to support a family. You assessment that those people don't have a reasoned argument is not correct. They are very emotional, but they are not wrong in their argument no matter how many people make fun of them.

I stated the "knee jerk" reaction. It is H1B is being used in a manner contrary to the law, this results in lower wage workers replacing domestic workers via contracts with "body shops". Often the worker is forced to train his/her replacement by holding severance over their heads.

Also, India is actually too expensive for some of these companies. They are recruiting from other countries with lower standards of living. I know of at least one Ag company that replaced workers with those from the Philippines because India was too expensive.'

Their isn't a lot of room for nuance when these companies are breaking the law but getting away with it.

"Nuance does go out the window when you or yours lose the means to support a family. "

Maybe they shouldn't have been in this profession at all and find a different line work. Jobs are not guarantees, you are not owed anything. If their job got h1b-ed then it doesn't need to exist. It's the typical dare-i-say, [mostly white american male] entitlement, that anytime they didn't get what they wished for, and <ka-boom>, the world's ending, h1b is worse than corona + isis combined! Welcome back to ground level folks.

"breaking the law" imho, that probably too strong a phrase. Sure - we can argue about what that proportion is - but i think h1b recruits are - like most things in life, normally distributed talent/salary wise. The bottom 2-3 sd should never have been issued visas. True that, but with that comes the better 1-2 sigma that starts businesses, does research in Univs and businesses.

Now IBM et al might not be doing what you like, but to accuse them of completely illegal behavior is a stretch & half. There are never any solutions, only trade-offs!

Nope, if they are using H1B to replace workers in the same job they are breaking the law. If you are writing your job description in such a way to exclude American workers and make it specific to the H1B person you are sponsoring, then you breaking the law. Read the actual enabling legislation.

"Maybe they shouldn't have been in this profession at all and find a different line work."

Yeah, don't take up a profession if someone if using a government program improperly to replace you. Victim blaming isn't a good look for advocates of the H1B program.

I think the fundamental premise on which your arguments are based is flawed.

1. Those jobs don't belong to "American workers". "American workers" : <wink> <wink> now, don't we all know what that means?

2. Said "american workers" have no guaranteed claims or rights to be employed in those jobs. The business no more owes you that job, than you owing them to work there. S/he is very welcome to find a different line of work, if they are inconvenienced. Just because you don't like something, doesn't make it illegal. Report fraud to the FBI/DOJ and Let the judicial system decide it.

3. To the extent the machinations you describe happen, they are no different from the VASTLY more prevalent resume padding, outright lies, outrageous salary asks and general brattish behavior by many "American workers". Should they be prosecuted too?

4. "American IT workers" are already among the highest paid professionals and have FULL + employment, and yet all they do is kvetch 24/7/365. These "victims" you describe, are trying to sell a bicycle - to put it mildly - for the price of a Rolls Royce, while the customer needs a Honda Civic ! And like every spoilt brat ever, throw a tantrum anytime they didn't get what they wanted.

5. If these american workers get off their entitlement high-horse, and stop wallowing in this sea of self-pity, they would be aware how mismatched their skills and compensation expectations are.

ps. i am a 3x entrepreneur, who used to believe in your ideas just as strongly, but my startup experience has changed my views on this subject.

I think the fundamental premise on which your arguments are based is flawed.

We are talking about H1Bs and yes, those jobs belong to Americans first. Once again, the stated goal of the program is The intent of the H-1B provisions is to help employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce by authorizing the temporary employment of qualified individuals who are not otherwise authorized to work in the United States.

You can make a Nation vs World argument on immigration and jobs, an argument on if a company from a nation owes the people of that nation some allegiance, but this is about H1B specifically and it is being abused. So, according to the legislation that enables the H1B program those jobs are American first.

ps. i am a 3x entrepreneur, who used to believe in your ideas just as strongly, but my startup experience has changed my views on this subject.

So you can profit now from it.

By and large your arguments are that of every entitled spoilt brat ever, who wants mommy & daddy to come rescue them. Get over it! One way or another this is going to happen, the workers you refer to are unemployable in every sense of the word. If not h1b then offshoring or relocation of businesses.

America can't have the taxpayer keep bailing out these "American workers" incompetence, lethargy and overriding entitlement. IMO these "American workers" are trying to sell a bicycle without wheels, for the price of a Rolls, and playing the "buy american" card. Ha! Now why didn't we think of that before?

So you can profit now from it.

"the devil quoteth the scriptures" - shakespeare


I didn't know wanting the government to follow that actual law was By and large your arguments are that of every entitled spoilt brat ever, who wants mommy & daddy to come rescue them.

IOW, entitlement.


[he might have meant] IOW = In Other Words

It's not just the companies they build: H1Bs are my colleagues and mentors and have made me, an American citizen, a better software engineer. I would not be where I am today without their knowledge and guidance.

Some of the entries seem wrong? I looked at Razer Inc's founder and he never did set foot in the USA as H1B, at least based on his wikipedia page. Was it just incorporated in the USA but HQ was somewhere else? If so, this is misleading. Also, H1-B does not allow you to found a startup. The path is H1B->green card->startup?

Hey! Never meant to state that all these founders came here on an H1B; just used that in the website name given what's been going on recently.

> Never meant to state that all these founders came here on an H1B

The URL is literally `h1bvalley.com` how can you honestly state that you "never meant to state" this?

I get the intent and desire to celebrate successful immigrants in the States but this conflation isn't helping the cause.

That's very misleading...

It's as misleading as mindgeek.com. It has nothing to do with minds or geeks but a website that focusses primarily on internet pornography. OP found a domain that fits the current political atmosphere for better SEO and went with it. Sure it helps to add a note on the website that these aren't all founders who came into the country on an H-1B.

Not sure what's your point. Yes, other websites have misleading or deceptive names. mindgeek.com maybe tries to hide their activities, I don't know the company or the website, but if that's the case it's a different situation.

Something named H1B Valley that lists names of company founders in the US makes it sound as if the H1B visa is what allowed them to come to the US, or even what allowed them to create their company. That's misleading if done by mistake, deceptive if intentional. They will surely have more traffic thanks to this, that doesn't change the fact that it feels deceptive and somewhat wrong to then learn that it is not in fact about H1B visa.

Right, I agree with that

Elon Musk is there too and he was never on a H1B. This title is misleading and it should be renamed.

Been pondering this, but at root I think one disconnect is that H1B is very much “A Tale of Two Cities”. If you work for FAAMNG or FinTech, your H1B colleagues represent the spirit of the program: World-class engineering talent being compensated appropriately.

If you’re outside that world it’s less cut and dry. Employers use H1B to drive down wages. They have a hold over the employees and can sometimes mistreat them. And then there’s the historical practice of body shops outright abusing the visa in exact opposition to the intent.

I lay this at the feet of FAAMNG. Instead of sending the message that it was an unmitigated good, they could have acknowledged the negatives and used their position to lobby for reforms before we got here.

My understanding of H-1Bs is that the basis of the visa is that you are required to work for a U.S.-based employer. How does a H-1B holder get around this restriction in founding a startup?

> Can I leave my H1B sponsoring employer to work for my own company? Can my own company sponsor my H1B?

> If you leave your H1B visa sponsoring employer, you will need to find authorized employment with a new sponsoring company that is authorized on your I-129 Form. In theory, that company could be your company but it can be approved only under a narrow set of circumstances. An employer that hires an H1B visa worker must be in a position to have the “right to control” the employee (you). That is by definition not a company in which you control 50%+ of the shares. You can’t hold a job in which you are the person who determines whether you have a job! There needs to be a hire-fire relationship that exists. There are some ways to create a permissible hire-fire relationship within ‘your own’ company that may pass muster in order to secure H1B sponsorship. For instance, you could have a Board of Directors that has explicit hiring and firing control and can replace you and you could also have a co-founder that owns more than 50% of the company’s shares and can hire-fire you. It’s always best to hire an attorney for help establishing ownership in any company, especially if it could put your visa status in jeopardy.


Right, used to be that H-1B employees would eventually become permanent residents and start businesses. Myself included. Though it's getting harder. It took me 12 years. There are people in H-1B now who have no realistic chance of becoming permanent resident in the life time.

You are typically an employee of the startup that you create.

Right, but you need to be sponsored by your employer to get the visa in the first place. Not saying it can't be done, just unclear on how.

You can create the company from abroad. There’s no real additional process for creating a company from abroad. The banking setup is the only thing that takes longer.

it's a list of former H-1Bs (presumably now green card holders or citizens) who subsequently did X.

No, the poster named it that as clickbait.

>Hey! Never meant to state that all these founders came here on an H1B; just used that in the website name given what's been going on recently.

A list of mostly European-origin people and almost exclusively European-origin and Asian-origin people is not likely to be well received these days as evidence that a US migration program is successful.

Came here to say this. Current immigration policy is so broken that for someone coming here with H1B to realistically qualify for green card, it takes years of paperwork, and most Asian born employees have no realistic chance of getting it anytime within 10yrs horizon. This makes it impractical to plan for house, career and startup. I personally know some folks from India who have no practical chance of getting it in their lifetime.

There was a bill to amend that so the country of birth based bias is removed. The bill was opposed in bipartisan way. Dick Durbuin, one of the most progressive senators and Ted Cruz one of the most right wing senator both were on the same page on this issue. This tells you the current state of affairs in our political climate on real immigration reform. Neither side really wants it and wants to keep the status quo.

Am in the wait queue for 10+ years. Came on L1 and moving to H1. Can't create a startup due to legal challenges around visa (have idea and funding) - hope something will be worked out.

[by whom][citation pending][vague]

Nice list. To really communicate the point that immigrants contribute to the US economy, might be a good idea to include rough US employment numbers on the image itself instead of when clicking into each one, since the bulk of the rhetoric around immigration is "jobs" focused, especially US jobs (global jobs might be seen as outsourcing/not relevant)

A couple dozen billionaire immigrant founders says nothing about the overall contributions (or costs) of immigrants to the economy.

This list is limited to H1B founders - the list of all immigrant founded unicorns would be much larger. A comprehensive list of all startups (unicorn or otherwise) founded by h1b holders could be a better indicator. Another way to quantify contributions could be aggregate taxes paid by these individuals but this data may not be available.

Thank you for making this. It’s important to highlight the visibility of what immigrants have contributed to America. One of the reasons why the United States continues to be the powerhouse it is today is because of its continued influx of highly talented and educated people coming into the country. To block off this pipeline would be a mistake.

The name doesn't really make sense. H1-B visas are non-immigrant visas, and their holders can only work for certain US-based employers. Of course, plenty of people do go on to immigrate (through their H-1B employer or by other means) and then start a business, or in some cases even use that as their means of immigration, but the H1-B itself does not lead to new startups.

Oh, then you can just let them in as founders without first toiling away at substandard rates in exploitive companies, right?

I wonder if the move against H-1Bs is good for the rest of the world.

How much would Evernote be contributing to the Azerbaijan economy if Stepan hadn’t left? Would London have more larger start ups?

Entrepreneurs are just one side of the story, for a successful startup churning city you need to have investors with risk appetite, constant flow of talented students and workers accepting of new ideologies and be far away from financial hubs. The last point is important because finance companies usually attract the top students and employees because of their fat salaries, which leave novel tech too little to work with. This is why cities like NY, London, Tokyo will never as successful as SF when it comes to tech.

Depends, some of the technologies aren't developed in those countries yet. For example, the father of the Pentium chip, Vinod Dham, came to the US on a student visa. I really doubt he would have been able to contribute similarly if not working for Intel. Some contributions need a lot of infrastructure and capital, like start of the art labs.

Great list! Two obvious misses: Tesla and Google.

If you're referring to Elon Musk, he is not a Tesla founder. Tesla was founded by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, both California born. Musk was an early Tesla investor.

The founder flair is unimportant in this example. Musk rescued Tesla from poor leadership and financial insolvency, enabling it to become the largest auto maker by market cap [1]. This is not to dismiss the contributions of Martin Eberhard and Mark Tarpon to Tesla's growth, but to recognize that at times a transition is necessary for an org to continue to evolve and/or survive (when this transition occurred, Tesla needed to rapidly shift from primarily R&D to a sales focused organization to get revenue in the door).

Let’s not get hung up on the Valley signaling around the word “founder” as if it's some sort of deity status. It's just a different amount of shares and share class on the cap table. Steve Jobs was an Apple founder, but Gates stepped in to bring Apple back from the brink with a $150MM investment [2]. Bill Gates doesn't have a "founder" title for Apple, but he was their savior. As always, there is nuance.

TLDR It is valid to use Elon Musk as an example of a successful immigrant and "the American dream", just not in the context of the H1B visa. Musk himself has said he couldn’t have been wildly successful anywhere else.

[1] https://electrek.co/2020/06/10/tesla-tsla-becomes-wolds-most...

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/29/steve-jobs-and-bill-gates-wh...

I don’t think Musk was on an H1B visa when he came from Canada? I don’t think Page and Brin were H-1Bs either, as they were PhD students at the time.

And Page isn’t an immigrant.

Pretty interesting.

Minor typo: I think it should be "Cloudflare" and not "Cloudfare" (note the missing L).

I’m confused. Admittedly, I’m not very educated on this topic. But aren’t H1B visas used for employees? Why are founders using H1B visas to found a company in the US?

Wouldn’t E-1 visas and investor visas be more relevant to the discussion of people starting companies? Is Trump banning new issuances of those?

Someone who enters the country on a H-1B don't necessarily stay in that category for all eternity. Although this is getting harder over time, people can switch which visa they're on, for example by applying for an Outstanding Abilities visa (O-1), a green card (EB-1), or even by getting married to a US Citizen (IR-1).

The point of the article is that these people were H-1B holders when they moved to the US, and went to become extremely successful later on.

In order to stay in the country usually a founder will work for the company as a contractor. I know of several founders who technically work as a freelancer for company A. while they run Company B.

Company A takes a chunk of equity for holding the visa.

Just a heads up: there is no statute of limitations on immigration fraud for the immigrants. If it's discovered at any time in the future all the immigration benefits derived from the fraud will be rolled back and the punishment (which usually includes a ban from entering the US) will be administered. E.g. if they get a green card through AOS and then naturalize and become citizens but their H1B is discovered to be fraudulent at some time in the future then: AOS is invalid since it requires a valid status, then the LPR (green card) is invalid since it's a result of an invalid AOS, then naturalization is invalid since it requires a certain time of being an LPR. So they are stripped of the US citizenship, deported and banned from entering the country ever again.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact