From Avant to Zenefits: The astronomical impact of immigrant-founded unicorn startups in the US

South African-born Elon Musk’s SpaceX is valued at $12 billion.
South African-born Elon Musk’s SpaceX is valued at $12 billion.
Image: REUTERS/Monica Almeida
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President Donald Trump has shaken Silicon Valley so deeply that workers are now talking about unionizing to resist the president’s agenda. Earlier this year, Trump’s initial travel ban sparked fears that the president could potentially exclude the next generation of immigrant entrepreneurs.

That’s because Silicon Valley is built on the shoulders of immigrants. According to a 2016 report from the National Foundation for American Policy, more than 50% of venture-backed unicorns (companies valued at more than $1 billion dollars) are founded or co-founded by 1st generation immigrants. More yet are run by the sons and daughters of immigrants. In fact, the collective value of immigrant-founded unicorns is currently about $200 billion. (It’s notable that a significant part of that valuation traces to Uber Technologies, co-founded by Canadian-born Garrett Camp.)

In its report the National Foundation for American Policy included a list of all immigrant-founded unicorns based in the US and their valuations. Quartz updated the list, highlighting the astronomical economic impact of immigrant entrepreneurs:

The data on this list drew from the National Foundation for American Policy’s 2016 report, “Immigrants and Billion Dollar Startups,” by Stuart Anderson, which incorporated company-provided numbers as well as data from external sources such as CrunchBase and LinkedIn. Quartz updated the report with new and updated information from companies, in addition to the Wall Street Journal’s report, “The Billion Dollar Startup Club” (which was updated March 2017), and Business Insider’s list of new unicorns that emerged in 2016.