President Trump’s executive order banning people from certain countries from entering the U.S. is supposed to protect against terrorism. Critics are skeptical about the order actually reducing terrorism and say that it may also lead many Americans to forget the gains it has received from immigrants.
In the tech industry, for instance, the current CEOs of Microsoft, Google, and Oracle were all born overseas. But that’s not all. Many well-known tech companies would not exist at all if the U.S. hadn’t let their founders or their parents move to America in the first place. Here are seven prominent examples.
1. Elon Musk, Tesla/SpaceX
Do you like rocket ships and cool cars? Be glad Uncle Sam made room for Musk, who came to U.S. in his twenties after growing up in South Africa and studying in Canada. Since coming here, he has built not one, but two ground-breaking technology companies.
2. Sergey Brin, Google
Born in the former Soviet Union, Brin moved to Maryland with his academic parents, who sought to escape the discrimination they faced as Jews. He grew up to co-found a certain search engine company. It’s probably no coincidence Brin was spotted at immigration protests this weekend in San Francisco.
3. Alexis Ohanian, Reddit
Known to many as “the front page of the Internet,” Reddit has had a big role in defining culture and communities on the web. The site’s Brooklyn-born founder is the son of a refugee who fled Armenia.
4. Jeff Bezos, Amazon
Here’s another company you may know. Jeff Bezos takes his last name from the man who married his mother when he was a young child in New Mexico. That man, Mike Bezos, was an immigrant from Cuba.
5. Jerry Yang, Yahoo
The company has been on hard times for years, so it’s easy to forget Yahoo is one of three firms that symbolized the 1990s dot-com boom (Amazon and eBay are the others). Yang reportedly knew only one English word when he moved from Taiwan at the age of 12.
6. Pierre Omidyar, eBay
Speaking of eBay, the founder of the famous auction site was born in Paris to two parents from Iran, one of the countries targeted by Trump’s travel ban.
7. Steve Jobs, Apple
Steve Jobs was raised by his adoptive family in California, including a mother who was the daughter of Armenian immigrants. The name of Jobs’s biological father is Abdulfattah Jandali, who grew up in Syria and studied in Lebanon before moving to U.S.
As President Trump excludes certain immigrants, it’s worth asking what the U.S. will be losing. Is it possible the ban will lead the next great inventors of smartphones, search engines, and electric cars to start their companies somewhere else?