Silicon Valley donated over $14 million to President Obama’s re-election campaign, and the president made quite a few promises on his many visits to the region, including steps toward immigration reform. We’ll discuss what Silicon Valley leaders want from Congress and Obama’s second term administration when it comes to upgrading visa laws, tax shelters and online privacy.

Vivek Wadhwa, fellow at Stanford Law School who frequently writes on the crossover between academics and growing technologies, and author of "The Immigrant Exodus"
Matthew Drange, reporter covering Silicon Valley tech giants for the Center for Investigative Reporting
Joseph Grundfest, former commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, senior faculty at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance and professor of law and business at Stanford Law School
Mary Dent, general counsel for the Silicon Valley Bank Financial Group

  • disqus_hbjZJIUFv2

    Silicon Valley is a morass of ongoing speculative scams that is perpetually positioning itself to outsource yet more jobs to foreign countries. This process necessitates bringing in lots of educated foreign labor on H1B visas, who will be called upon to assist with the outsourcing in future.
    The ideal foreign worker speaks English, never questions the prevailing speculative scams, and embraces corporatism. Additional nice-to-haves from the typical Silicon Valley CEO’s point of view include a rightwing mindset, a nationalistic tendency and disdain for the poor.
    Basically the ideal tech immigrants are people like this:

  • Brandon

    Besides Apple, Google, Cisco and the other companies paying no taxes (the linked-to article) Facebook has also paid no taxes, neither state nor federal. So it isn’t enough that Facebook continually betrays their customers by changing privacy rules. It seems they also are getting a free ride and letting taxpayers pick up Facebook’s tab for maintaining state services, which is another betrayal. We the people give companies the right to exist, yet they act as though they are sovereign. Why anyone would trust these crooks I don’t know.

  • geraldfnord

    How is ‘Silicon Valley’ here construed?
    How much did ‘it’ give to the Republican contenders and candidate.?

  • Kathleen31

    Let me see — Silicon Valley businesses are overtaxed, overregulated, dealing with uncertainty, and operating in a risky environment personally caused by the President. Oh, and we need more H1B visas. Did we forget any of the Republican talking points?

    • rlawson

      Nope. Good job, you got them all.

  • Kathleen31

    Don’t get me wrong, I get that there are important issues here, of national import — we do need to fix the patent system, fix the tax structure, H1B workers’ family members should be able to work, HiB visa payments must continue to support worker training programs, etc. Just drop the boo-hooing over too much regulation and too much uncertainty, please.

    • Why not just cancel H-1B instead of having the labour market glutted up even more with all these H-1B “family members”?

  • Scott Lankford

    As a Community College Instructor, I see our local Tech Titans relying on a workforce trained on my campus (and on university campuses like Stanford, Berkeley, and SJSU) — yet not doing anything close to their fair share to keep our California schools in operation. Quite the opposite. Why aren’t companies who trumpet “Don’t Be Evil” and “Think Different” voluntarily stepping up to help make our schools world leaders instead of propping up the most unequal income distribution in the U.S. — literally at 3rd World levels — while at the same time sending their kids to private schools. Billionaire’s mansions look down on my campus (in more ways than one)….why?

    • John L

      Between the time I graduated from high school in 2006 with a C average, and the time I graduated from Cal in 2011 as an honors student, I spent three years at a community college. Up until now I have always dismissed the rivalry between Cal and Stanford as frivolous fanfare: something that was fun to invoke at a football game, but nothing that held much significance outside the stadium. I now feel very differently about this rivalry, after having heard professor Grundfest’s excuse for why so much tech money goes to Stanford, and not public education. Because apparently the only form of excellence is one that has blue blood and a red blazer.

      Scott, thank you for your words; and thank you for doing what you do.

    • They hire their tech workers from abroad.

    • Wilbur

      Large Corporations Displacing Aging IT Workers With H-1B Visa Workers

  • James Ivey

    I’ve been getting software patents for Silicon Valley companies for 21 years. Software patents don’t stifle innovation. Software patents stifle theft of innovation, what Ron Epstein calls “innovation by observation.”

    Patents protect young upstarts with new ideas against giant, established companies with market dominance. What’s changed in the Silicon Valley in the 20 years or so is that the young upstarts are now giant, established companies with market dominance. Silicon Valley rode software patents to market dominance — I know, I wrote some of them. Now, they want to pull up the ladder so no young upstarts can join them at the top.

    And, stop clamoring for patent reform; it’s already been passed and goes into full effect next month.

    • disqus_zfpmDTqdWH

      Software patents are used to steal from inventors, not help them. Someone demonstrates an idea and then a thief comes along and patents it. I expect you are one of those thieves.

      • Arthur

        The inventor should patent it first.

      • Arthur

        Or publish it first. One good improvement to the patent system would allow as prior art any publication prior to filing, not at least one year prior.

        • Randal


          What about trolls who patent ideas taken straight out of textbooks?
          What about patents that are deliberately worded in vague terms?

    • James Ivey

      Just to follow up on the comment re “patent trolls” and the caller that followed me, “patent trolls” are companies that tried to bring the technology to market and were not adequately funded to succeed, or their successors in interest. “Patent trolls” are entrepreneurs who had their technology stolen, or their successors in interest. “Patent trolls” deserve all the respect that all other entrepreneurs deserve.

      • disqus_zfpmDTqdWH

        Patent trolls are speculators and thieves. They have no talent to do anything. They are unable to produce working copies of software or hardware. They steal, they scam, and they engage in extortion.

  • disqus_zfpmDTqdWH

    I work at a company that is two-thirds staffed Indians, but I’m not in India, I’m in the Bay Area. Lots of Americans can’t find jobs even though they have the skills and are continuing to improve their skills. Able Americans are being blocked from tech jobs.
    One cause is that hiring managers and interviewing engineers are often foreigners themselves who prefer to work with foreigners. They simply don’t want to deal with the anger of those who have been displaced, and their own guilt in displacing them.

    • No need to support education, when you can hire from abroad.

  • guest

    Please ask Silicon Valley to help the State of California with their software design and acquisitions.

    e.g. Twelve years to track personnel expenditures (Caltrans), etc.

    • Arthur

      I proposed a while ago that the UC/CSU system do that work. It could provide much needed funds to the University system and train our students as well.

  • Michael Haughey

    A lot of silicon valley companies are built on a shaky premise, selling advertising, right now I see 3-4 ads staring me in the face, I am tired of ads vaguely based on keywords which I may have looked at in the past year…. enough already….


    H1 visa only benefited companies owners and venture capitalists and wall street but it was a disaster to the American workers and the US economy

    • Amen. I would shake your hand in real life.

  • Arthur

    The current profits-based income tax promotes exporting jobs overseas. We need a Value-Added-type tax that imposes a tax on imports and refunds it on exports, and taxes all income other than the cost of goods sold, donations, labor costs up to $1 million per employee, and local and state taxes paid at a rate of about 25%. That should be coupled with a graduated income tax with a top rate of 25% that taxes all income equally, with deductions for donations, mortgage interest, and local and state taxes paid. There is no justification for lower capital gains rate, as only investing in pre-IPO start-ups creates jobs.


    As an owner of electronic business for the last 40 years i had personal dealings with many Silicon Valley CEOS, and i toeally rejects their arguments regarding the H1 visa where in the last 39 years highly paid American scientists with salary of several hundred thousand dollars were replaced by HI visa works who were paid as little as twenty thousand dollars….I totally rejects the arguments of people like Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs, and others who have been promoting the H1 visa only to benefit their selfish interests but to harm the American workers as well the American people as well.

    • rlawson

      Means alot coming from someone like yourself who has been running a business and who has been there for the long haul. Thank you for your perspective.

  • marte48

    Patents? Starups? Creativity? When will we have enough videogames, Apple apps, and Facebook clones? We are all headed for another dotcom crash and wall street melt down. We need to get our “A students” from wherever to fix REAL problems.

    • Randal

      Have you heard of the “app bubble”?

    • Schmoopie

      Software does fix real problems. How long did it take you to communicate with all your friends/acquaintances before Facebook/Instagram/etc. The system adds utility. If you’re just wasting more time playing games, that’s your problem, From ebay and amazon to (my recent faves) Zimride and Airbnb, these companies exist for a reason– people see utility and adopt it..

      • marte48

        Yeah, but we don’t need any more. You’ll see – when you are my age, you will feel the same way about “progress.” When you have to go back to school at 50, and then again at 60, because all the “new” stuff isn’t new anymore, and you get replaced by younger kids who are just trying to keep up like you did, you’ll see. Have fun. Work hard. Impress your boss. Make your parents proud. And then lose it all at 50. if people would stop trying to be millionaires, everyone would be alot happier. And we should not all have to be geniuses to have a good life. Someday you will get tired of competing, and say, what is the point?

  • marte48

    All of the technology in Silicon Valley – both electronics and pharma – was developed with government money and markets since (and because of) WW2.

  • Doug Hohbach

    Let’s make a straightforward tweak to the H-1b program which will address many of its current problems. For each H-1b visa, the sponsoring company should be required to fully fund a college scholarship at a U.S university in the specific field that the foreign worker is being hired into. This would:

    1. Make the visas significantly more expensive, making them likely available for the truly rare, talented and valuable foreign worker while simultaneously making the domestic worker relatively less expensive.

    2. Increase the supply of technically trained workers when the scholarship recipients finish their education

    3. Motivate high school students, who need
    financial assistance, to study STEM subjects based on the availability of college scholarships in technical

    • The O-1 visa is available in unlimited numbers for truly rare, talented and valuable foreign workers. Otherwise there is zero need for the H-1B and it can safely be cancelled. Might actually get the Valley back on its feet again with the benefit of superior-quality US citizen workers at the helm.

  • It used to be that a foreign worker could only be hired if qualified American worker could not be found. When the Kennedy-Feinstein sponsored “american Competativeness in the 21st century Act” paessed in October 2000, this protectio was removed. Thanks, Ted. Thanks, Dianne.

  • rlawson

    Where are all these jobs in Silcon Valley? The rest of the country isn’t claiming shortages. Can someone demonstrate where I can find job listings in Silicon Valley and provide more than anecdotal evidence? It’s going to be very difficult to find American STEM professionals when you are looking in India BTW.

    Expanding the H-1b right now at a time of above average unemployment and when the current program gives 42,501 visas to just 12 foreign based offshore outsourcing firms is insane. Expanding this program that supports offshoring our jobs is the pill they are asking us to swallow.
    Wadhwa says they aren’t asking for much here. That is laughable. They want it all, and they aren’t putting ANYTHING on the plate for American STEM professionals. If you want to exclude us from the table and poison your own legislation go right ahead. It won’t pass into law. If you really want a bill to pass, you’ve got to bring us to the table.
    I would support EB visas but it should replace the H-1b visa – not expand it. You guys have pushed for what I can only describe as a franken-bill.

  • Tony Rocco

    The guests on this program left the strong taste of disgust in my mouth. Their utter indifference to the concerns of working Americans and their capitalism uber alles approach to doing business is rank and immoral. How democratic a country do we have when we let these self-serving pirates have carte blanche with their employment practices, leaving them free to outsource jobs at will, to avoid investing in our educational system, to shelter tax proceeds and not pay their fair share. The rules of how business is conducted in this country need to be rewritten to prevent these gross abuses and give economic power back to the people where it belongs.

  • Patrice Weber

    To the people complaining about a skill shortage in Silicon Valley, you are the root of the problem. CS enrolments are down in most of the richest countries in the world.

    Why invest 5 to 8 years in a CS degree in the US, having to update your skills every 3 months, being in debt and having your future simply decided by a single act of Congress that opens the spigot to the world’s “Smartest and Brightest”. India and China are full of smart people willing to do your job for less (1/10 or 1/4 less?). If we need them, please let them come until Silicon Valley is happy and content.

    I would think that the brightest and smartest Americans will probably choose a career in a field that cannot be outsourced by the click of a mouse.

    A defunct software engineer……..

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