At the beginning of the month, multinational tech giant Google told the world it would be starting its own parent company. The name of this parent company would be Alphabet Inc. A wide range of reactions to this news occurred immediately. This restructuring of the corporation was an unanticipated event. Some industry insiders described it as an innovative and bold move. Others saw it as something negative. Some accused the co-founders of Google, Sergey Brin, and Larry Page, as having a plan that was not needed and too overambitious. There was also part of the plan that brought an overwhelmingly positive reaction. This was promoting Sundar Pichai, a top executive at Google, to become CEO of Google. A majority of tech industry insiders expressed their belief the decision to promote Pichai was a very good one. Chennai, India is where Pichai was born and educated. His impressive career at Google started eleven years ago. He has been steadily moving up in the ranks ever since. Some believe this move was long overdue.
A Growing Trend
This action represents a demographic that is increasingly occurring with some of the most successful tech companies in the United States, immigrants at the helm of major corporations. Some of the largest tech companies such as Adobe, SanDisk as well as Microsoft and others have put immigrants in high-level executive positions during recent years. Over a fourth of the startups in Silicon Valley are now founded by immigrants. Many of them are from India. Annalee Saxenian is Dean of the School of information at UC Berkeley. She stated in an interview conducted by Public Radio International (PRI) that a decade ago Indian immigrants were usually only hired into lower and mid-level positions in the U.S. tech industry. They were not considered for high-level executive positions. She also said that having Indians running Microsoft and Google is a statement of how Indians are now a major part of the U.S. tech industry.
Questions From Outsiders
Many people in the tech industry wonder what has happened to cause Indian immigrants to go from mid-level management during the 1990s, to being put into top ranking executive positions with some of the most successful tech companies in the world? Industry insiders point to the unique culture of India. It is a place that emphasizes teamwork as well as persistence and education. This is an effective way to produce individuals with well-developed skills who are able to think outside the box. Vinod Khosla is an Indian immigrant and a co-founder of Sun Microsystems. Khosla is a Silicon Valley-based venture capitalist. During a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Khosla stated that India continues to struggle with economic instability. The country’s top students are still able to remain focused on developing their skills. They embrace their hardships as a learning experience.
Influences of Indian Immigrants
The dependence on Indian immigrants in Silicon Valley also occurred as a result of a number of key political and cultural developments. After India had gained its independence from Britain in the 1950s, the country had a significant increase in its science, math, and engineering-based education programs. This occurred during the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965. This act decreased quota restrictions for immigrants. It also created a skills-based visa program. In 1990, the H1B specialty occupation visa was created. This was a time when the tech industry was growing rapidly and desperately needed the highly skilled workers found in India. Two and a half decades later, Indian immigrants are now a very valuable part of the tech industry in the United States. They are finally being given promotions to top executive positions. Indian immigrants would not be considered for such positions just a generation ago.
An Integral Part of the Tech Industry
Since the beginning of the tech industry in the U.S., innovative and highly skilled immigrants from India have been a big part of its success. They initially filled low-profile positions in successful companies they helped to build. This has changed. Now large tech companies such as Google are realizing the benefits of rewarding the well-developed leadership skills as well as entrepreneurial spirit possessed by many of their immigrant employees. These are immigrants who have developed their skills with an elite education system combined with a culture that welcomes challenges and values perseverance.