Tuesday, June 21, 2011

When Mayor Bloomberg's Office Calls...

Well, yes, you answer the phone.

I've been staying out of the political muck (relatively speaking) in recent years, focusing my attention on things I can influence locally, because I've been so frustrated with national politics. The tone is terrible, but that's not the biggest problem.

The lack of substantive relief from what is now direct corporate influence over federal policy, action, and inaction is demoralizing. We've ended up --under any administration-- creating policies that benefit the few at the expense of the many. I'm no anti-capitalist; I consider myself a capitalist and love to build companies that enjoy the benefits of it.

But the pendulum has swung too far.

Regardless, I was asked last Friday by the Mayor's office to show support for an effort to revamp US immigration policy, and today I signed on. It's not perfect, but overall I support the intent of creating a sane immigration policy, especially for innovators.

About a half hour ago I was on the phone with a startup whose software I'm about to use for Jawaya. The call was a bit Skypey, because he was sitting in London, using Skype. Why?

His startup was funded by SVAngel (I'm guessing he's young), 500 Startups, Paul Graham, and other Valley luminaries. His company has generated millions of downloads, and its new product is a catalyst for other startups to reach more people for less money.

But he's stuck in London, away from the team, because he can't get a work Visa. It's simply a stupid barrier, an unnecessary obstacle to growing a startup that is generating value and catalyzing growth here in the States.

So I've signed on to the effort. I'd like any immigration reform to include a ban on L-1 Visas, or at least enforcement of the rampant abuse, but overall, the proposal makes a lot of sense to me. It will result in more positive immigration, less negative immigration, more investment in the use, more jobs, and more innovation.

It's time to stop exporting innovators and innovation, and making the US the perfect destination for immigrant entrepreneurs of all nationalities (and sectors!).

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