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The Immigrant Exodus

Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent

Vivek Wadhwa and Alex Salkever

A 2012 ECONOMIST BOOK OF THE YEAR

Many of the United States’ most innovative entrepreneurs have been immigrants, from Andrew Carnegie, Alexander Graham Bell, and Charles Pfizer to Sergey Brin, Vinod Khosla, and Elon Musk. Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies and one-quarter of all new small businesses were founded by immigrants, generating trillions of dollars annually, employing millions of workers, and helping establish the United States as the most entrepreneurial, technologically advanced society on earth.

Now, Vivek Wadhwa, an immigrant tech entrepreneur turned academic with appointments at Duke, Stanford, Emory, and Singularity Universities, draws on his new Kauffman Foundation research to show that the United States is in the midst of an unprecedented halt in high-growth, immigrant-founded start-ups. In The Immigrant Exodus, he argues that increased competition from countries like China and India and US immigration policies are leaving some of the most educated and talented entrepreneurial immigrants with no choice but to take their innovation elsewhere. The consequences to our economy are dire; our multi-trillion dollar loss will be the gain of our global competitors.

With his signature fearlessness and clarity, Wadhwa offers a concise framework for understanding the Immigrant Exodus and offers a recipe for reversal and rapid recovery.

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About the Authors

Praise for The Immigrant Exodus

“Vivek Wadhwa’s new book, The Immigrant Exodus, is admirably short, yet he packs it with righteous fury. America, he points out, has one of the greatest assets a nation can have: people yearn to live there.”

—The Economist

“A thoughtful contribution to the dialogue surrounding immigration.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Immigrants have long been the backbone of America—our nation itself was a start-up founded by immigrants. The Immigrant Exodus demonstrates the danger this country faces if it continues to turn away such a precious resource.”

—World Policy Review

“There is no better monitor of America’s shifting immigration regime than Vivek Wadhwa.”

—Edward Luce, The Financial Times

“Talk about hitting our economy when it’s down! And we’re doing it to ourselves, as Vivek Wadhwa’s shocking new book illustrates….Vivek’s timely book should wake Washington up to this destructive folly.”

—Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Forbes Media

“I am an immigrant entrepreneur. Many of my close friends in the technology world are immigrant entrepreneurs. It is a tragedy that America makes it so hard for these invaluable people to immigrate and contribute to this great country. Vivek Wadhwa’s book on this topic is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand why America is losing the talent race due in part to restrictive and regressive immigration policies.”

—Elon Musk, CEO, SpaceX, and Cofounder, Tesla Motors and PayPal

“America’s continued leadership in the world economy depends directly on our ability to continue to innovate. Our ability to innovate depends directly on the number of scientists and engineers we have in this country. At a time we are not producing enough home grown talent, we need policies and programs that make it easier to attract talent from abroad. That’s always been the case. Walk the halls of our research centers in Palo Alto and Rochester and you will see people from all over the world. It gives usand our countrya competitive advantage. We need to nurture more of it.”

—Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO, Xerox Corporation

“Immigrants are a crucial part of Silicon Valley. Many market transforming companies have been founded by immigrants. Furthermore, all of my portfolio companies rely on outstanding immigrant employees every day. Over the past couple of years, Wadhwa has been at the forefront sounding the alarm about America’s flawed immigration system. In The Immigrant Exodus, he writes persuasively about the problem and what we need to do to solve it. A must-read.”

—Reid Hoffman, Cofounder and Executive Chairman, LinkedIn, and Partner, Greylock

“America’s current immigration policy is utterly destroying this great nation’s future. The greatest minds, inspired and educated by our incubators and institutions, are tossed out like babies in the bathwater. Vivek Wadhwa shines a bright laser beam on this must-fix-now problem. As the son of immigrants and a champion of American Innovation, I can think of no more important book for our politicians and CEOs to read. Get it, read it and fix this problem now.”

—Peter H. Diamandis, MD, Chairman/CEO, X PRIZE Foundation, and author, Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think

“America became a superpower on the premise of welcoming the best and brightest from all over the world. Today those potential contributors to the economy are more likely than not to give up in exasperation and return to their home countries. It doesn’t need to be this way. Wadhwa has been an outstanding champion for the cause and today we must stand with him. In The Immigrant Exodus, he argues that America remains the beacon of hope for talented individuals from around the world. Let’s not allow this flame to be extinguished.”

—Jeff Skoll, Founder and Chairman, Participant Media

“Vivek hits the nail on the head: The key to unlocking American prosperity is making it easier for immigrant entrepreneurs to start businesses here and ultimately stay here. Voices like Vivek’s are critical to making that reform possible.”

—Marc Andreessen, Cofounder and Partner, Andreessen Horowitz

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In the Media

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