Steve Blank feels immigration can build Silicon Valleys everywhere

“What do you want to do here?” Get a job. “Sorry, but you’ll need to go straight back home right now, next please. So, what do you want to do here?” Start a business, employ people “Great! please sit over there with the others”

Crazy guy, crazy notions about immigration?

Think this policy would make your own economy less able to compete?

Steve Blank implies that the only place that might have trouble competing, if you do this in your country, might be Silicon Valley, because you’d be stealing its secret edge.

As far as he is concerned, no other country (except maybe Finland, see the video below) is doing what it takes to create a Silicon Valley in their own back yard, because wherever you go in the world, immigrant inflows are still typically seen as being an economic liability: the rise of Silicon Valley is not seen as having a bearing on this issue.

Steve Blank doesn’t argue that immigration doesn’t consume jobs or resources, or even that this isn’t a problem, but he doesn’t think that this fact helps you fully understand what to do about it.

Why not?

Because he believes startups create jobs, and that incomers have a proven track record of creating many, if not most of the successful startups that have made Silicon Valley what it is today. So by Steve Blank’s reckoning, immigrants are ultimately net job creators, not job or economy destroyers.

For every potential resource-consuming, economy-undermining incomer that locals might perhaps be inclined to resent, Steve Blank seems to believe there are enough outsiders (who often start with nothing more than a passionate determination to create a successful startup and yet still have a greater likelihood of bringing jobs to their newly adopted home economy than anyone else) to more than compensate for the cost of the resources consumed and the jobs taken.

He might be completely wrong, of course, and in time, we may find out that what makes Silicon Valley the envy of the world has little, if anything to do with outsiders.

In the meantime, tough questions may be worth trying to answer: Do immigrant created startups in Silicon Valley:

  • create more jobs than indigenous startups
  • create more jobs than indigenous established businesses?
  • create more wealth than immigration costs?
  • outnumber indigenously created startups?

Answering these questions and others which make the distinction between startups created by indigenous and immigrant founders may be hampered by the possibility of ‘hybrid’ founding teams which having members from both.

He also says that the most successful startup founders include a lot of very crazy people.

Crazy is how he characterises the mentality behind the risk-taking attitude that defines the startup founders with the most ambitious visions, as well as the risk-takers bold enough to invest in them.

However, if immigrant startup founders do indeed start with nothing, you could argue that they aren’t taking quite so much of a risk.

Nonetheless, committing unquestioningly to a seemingly fantastic vision of your future (as the most successful startups usually do) seems like it just might be delusional enough to be called crazy.

But we may also find that even if immigration does work in Silicon Valley, it doesn’t work anywhere else, for reasons we have yet to discover (like maybe you just won’t get the appropriate kind of craziness in immigrants arriving anywhere else, who knows?)

Who on earth other than Steve Blank could possibly imagine that a policy of not stopping a sufficient number of appropriately crazy foreigners coming in would be a good idea?

He appears in the video at 4:30