THE IMMIGRANT EXODUS: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent

My book on immigration is releasing on October 2 along with a research report that I co-authored with Dean AnnaLee Saxenian of UC-Berkeley and Prof. Dan Siciliano of Stanford Law School. There is no good news. The research shows an alarming drop in immigrant entrepreneurship–just when the U.S. needs a tremendous boost.

Below are a synopsis of the book and testimonials. Here is the link to the book on Wharton\’s website where you can find links to purchase it if you wish (it is inexpensive).


In an alarming new book, THE IMMIGRANT EXODUS: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent (Wharton Digital Press; October 2, 2012) drawn from a Kauffman Foundation report released simultaneously, Vivek Wadhwa, a leading scholar and public voice on entrepreneurship and public policy, makes clear that the issue is not simply the threat of “reverse brain drain” but a newly identified and historically unprecedented halt in high-growth, immigrant-founded start-ups. The U.S. hasn’t yet responded to the intensifying competition that countries such as China and India offer, and has left some of the most educated and talented entrepreneurial immigrants with no choice but to take their innovation elsewhere. The consequences to our economy are dire; our multi-trillion-dollar loss will be our global competitors’ gain.

Praise for The Immigrant Exodus

 “Talk about hitting our economy when it’s down!  And we’re doing it to ourselves, as Vivek Wadhwa’s shocking new book illustrates.  The real capital of an economy is the human mind. America has been immeasurably enriched by millions of people coming to our shores with a burning desire, as Lincoln put it, to improve their lot in life. Their brains, dreams and ambitions have benefitted us all enormously.   And yet we’re driving away this priceless source of capital and innovation.  Vivek’s timely book should wake Washington up to this destructive folly.”

— Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media 

“I am an immigrant entrepreneur. Many of my close friends in the technology world are immigrant entrepreneurs. It is a tragedy that America makes it so hard for these invaluable people to immigrate and contribute to this great country. Vivek Wadhwa\’s book on this topic is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand why America is losing the talent race due in part to restrictive and regressive immigration policies.”

—Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla Motors and PayPal

“America\’s current immigration policy is utterly destroying this great nation\’s future.  The greatest minds, inspired and educated by our incubators and institutions, are tossed out like babies in the bathwater. Vivek Wadhwa shines a bright laser beam on this must-fix-now problem. As the son of immigrants and a champion of American Innovation, I can think of no more important book for our politicians and CEOs to read.  Get it, read it and fix this problem now.”

Peter H. Diamandis, MD, Chairman/CEO, X PRIZE Foundation and author of Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think

“Immigrants are a crucial part of Silicon Valley. Many market transforming companies have been founded by immigrants. Furthermore, all of my portfolio companies rely on outstanding immigrant employees every day. Over the past couple of years, Wadhwa has been at the forefront sounding the alarm about America\’s flawed immigration system. In The Immigrant Exodus, he writes persuasively about the problem and what we need to do to solve it. A must-read.”
Reid Hoffman, co-founder and executive chairman, LinkedIn and partner at Greylock

“The revolutionary waves of innovation in information technology emanating from Silicon Valley over the past decades have been powered in no small part by recent arrivals on our shores. But the tide is going out, as short-sighted policies block the flow of skilled immigrants who have contributed so much to entrepreneurship in the US. The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent is a cautionary tale of a great success going wrong and what we can do to reverse this trend before it is too late.”

Mitch Kapor, founder Lotus Development Corp.

“With his masterful blend of hard-hitting analyses and empathy for the real people who strive to succeed, Wadhwa lays out a strategy for keeping America the birthplace of great innovation. He understands that staying competitive means recognizing and welcoming talent in all its forms. Equally compelling to those who care about shoring up the economy and increasing diversity in Silicon Valley, The Immigrant Exodus is a must-read.”

Freada Kapor Klein, Ph.D. founder of the Level Playing Field Institute (

“The venture capital business in Silicon Valley has been all about immigrants since my dad funded David Lee at Qume. For Draper Fisher Jurvetson, immigrants have been the tomato in the BLT. Sabeer Bhatia, an immigrant from India started Hotmail. Elon Musk, an immigrant from South Africa started Tesla and SpaceX, and Samir Arora, an immigrant from India, started Glam Media. Our domestic business would be significantly less valuable without immigrants. Vivek Wadhwa’s book, The Immigrant Exodus, points out clearly that America is in a stiff competition for valued immigrants, the entrepreneurs and the capital of the world, and we can do something about it.”

—Timothy Draper, Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson

“I came to the US from Canada in 1993 to attend Stanford business school. As an engineer, my dream was to start a company in Silicon Valley. That dream was realized when I became the first fulltime employee and President of eBay. Along the way, I held virtually every kind of visa, J1, TN1 (Canadian Free Trade), H1B, O1 and finally a green card. And every visa was a painful exercise! In 1999, after I had helped take eBay public and the company had 3,000 employees, my H1B renewal was declined for reasons that no one can fathom to this day. Fortunately by then I had made enough connections and could afford good lawyers to help me right my path. But not everyone is so lucky and in the wake of 9/11, things have only become more difficult. America became a superpower on the premise of welcoming the best and brightest from all over the world. Today those potential contributors to the economy are more likely than not to give up in exasperation and return to their home countries. It doesn\’t need to be this way. Wadhwa has been an outstanding champion for the cause and today we must stand with him. In The Immigrant Exodus, he argues that America remains the beacon of hope for talented individuals from around the world. Let\’s not allow this flame to be extinguished.”

—Jeff Skoll, founder and chairman, Participant Media

“For more than three centuries, generations of talented immigrants have contributed their energies and intellects, their entrepreneurial and technical skills, to America’s greatness. The Immigrant Exodus is a wakeup call that the U.S. risks losing that source of inspiration and innovation.  Vivek Wadhwa proposes enlightened and constructive ways to keep the American Dream alive for the best and brightest global talent that is so essential to America’s future.”

Klaus Kleinfeld, Chairman and CEO, Alcoa

“America\’s continued leadership in the world economy depends directly on our ability to continue to innovate. Our ability to innovate depends directly on the number of scientists and engineers we have in this country. At a time we are not producing enough home grown talent, we need policies and programs that make it easier to attract talent from abroad. That\’s always been the case. Walk the halls of our research centers in Palo Alto and Rochester and you will see people from all over the world. It gives us — and our country — a competitive advantage. We need to nurture more of it.”

Ursula Burn, Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation