Why ‘Silicon Valley’ should really be called, “Silicon-Ore”

By Shaunvir Singh Sep 10, 2016
Why ‘Silicon Valley’ should really be called, "Silicon-Ore"

In this three-part series I am looking at how factors like US acquiring global talent, the H1B visa and outsourcing are all interlinked.

In my second post I tentatively mooted the proposition that “outsourcing is actually a negative for developing countries,” because it ‘wipes out’ the competitive advantage (low cost talent) they hold over developed economies.

In this third and final post of the series, I’m going to address a query I often hear as well as a criticism that I often hear, namely that “Does India have talent?” and “Indian software developers are just ‘code donkeys’. There are many ways for me to refute this ill-informed viewpoint (but in this post I’m specifically going to refute it through the lens of the H1B visa.)

Look at all the professionals that have emigrated from India to the US via the H1B visa and then look at their success stories. The Indian professional immigrant is the biggest immigration success story ever seen. And that success is not restricted to just the States. It applies to Canada, the UK, continental Europe, Africa and Australia.

Don’t believe me? Well, here are some statistics on the Indian immigrant success story:

According to a study funded by Kauffman Foundation, in the recent years almost 15 per cent of all start-ups in the Silicon Valley were founded by NRI (Non Resident Indian) entrepreneurs.

‘Ever since Indian graduates poured into Silicon Valley in the 1970s and 1980s, talented Indians have broken glass ceilings for immigrants, pushed boundaries of innovation and secured highly visible positions of power. Today, this rise of Indians and Indian-Americans in the US tech world appears to be at its peak with as many as 15% of startups in Silicon Valley being founded by Indians. [source: Quora]

In addition, at least 95% of recruiters at local and even national job agencies are Indian.

While the CEOs are in the spotlight, the elevation of Sundar Pichai at Google has brought into sharp focus the role Indians are playing in Silicon Valley. In fact, Pichai is assisted by many senior India-born Google executives, including search wizard Amit Singhal, advertising expert Sridhar Ramaswamy, YouTube product chief (and nicknamed Google’s $100 million man) Neal Mohan, and Sanjay Ghemawat, who is among the world’s top Big Data experts’.

Other India-born CEOs in America include:

  1. Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
  2. Shantanu Narayen, President & CEO, Adobe
  3. Nikesh Arora, President and COO, Softbank Corp.
  4. Vinita Gupta, Co-founder, Digital Link Corp.
  5. Vinod Khosla, Co-founder, Sun Microsystems
  6. Sanjay Mehrotra, Co-founder and CEO, SanDisk

The Indian immigrant has played such a pivotal role in the success of Silicon Valley, it should be renamed, Silicon-Ore, (the ‘Ore’ to denote Bangal-ore, widely regarded as India’s Silicon Valley).

So, now that we have established beyond doubt that the Indian H1B visa is for the exceptionally talented, the remainder of my argument is very simple. Where do you think that Indian immigrant was born raised and educated? Yes you guessed it, India! And this is something that I have seen first-hand myself. My grandfather was that Indian immigrant, born, raised and educated in India to then go on and work as a professor at Purdue University.

The success of the Indian immigrant is not testimony to the US; it’s a testimony to the Indian education system. The success of Silicon Valley is not testimony purely to US talent; it’s a testimony to Indian talent too. The success of the H1B visa proves that India has immense talent. So when the topic of outsourcing to India arises, the question, “Does India have talent?” should be nowhere on the agenda; it’s a completely irrelevant question. Rather, the focus of any outsourcing strategy should be on partnering with a reputed firm that embodies that talent.

If you still have reservations about India’s talent and outsourcing to India, here is an exercise you can undertaken to allay your fears. If you are in Canada, the US, the UK or Australia, just walk into your local hospital. The chances are very high that you will find many India-born, raised and educated doctors in that hospital.

If the Indian education system is strong enough to perform your heart surgeries, throw up global heads of top brands, create path-breaking invisible innovations, then surely it’s more than capable of managing your website code? And, let’s not forget that two of the most visible and powerful companies in the world are headed by India-born CEOs – Sundar Pichai of Google and Satya Nadella of Microsoft.

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