CRV blasts Trump, launches Fellowship Program for immigrants

The firm also said it will cover the costs of U.S. visas for the founders of its companies

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
August 24, 2016
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/46eb

Plenty of well-known tech personalities have made their displeasure over Trump's policies, and rhetoric, very well known. How many of them, though, have been spurred to actually do something in response? Honestly, probably not many, but at least one venture firm is now going to take a stand against Trump's policies.

In a blog post entitled (pardon the language here) “F*ck Trump," CRV (formerly known as Charles River Ventures) announced two new policies to help out immigrant entrepreneurs. 

First, the firm said it would start covering the costs of U.S. visas for the founders of any company that it invests in. And, second, it has launched a CRV Fellowship Program, which will provide funding, support and office space for immigrant entrepreneurs.

The firm did this, as the title of the post suggests, as a direct rebuke to Trump's policies on immigration, which have included repeated calls for the building of a border wall, which he says Mexico will pay for, as well as mass deportation, and a “total and complete” ban on Muslims entering the United States, something that even Dick Cheney found to be morally repugnant. 

"Donald Trump’s anti-immigration statements are diametrically opposed to the core values of entrepreneurship. And at CRV, we’ve had enough. The CRV partnership — united and unanimous — rejects Donald Trump’s candidacy for President of the United States," the firm wrote. (The emphasis is theirs)

CRV labeled itself "a firm of immigrants," one where nine of its partners are from outside the United States, coming from countries that include Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Turkey and Venezuela. Also, roughly half of the companies it puts money into are also founded by immigrants. 

From a purely financial point of view, putting money into companies founded by immigrants seems to pay off nicely. A study from the National Foundation for American Policy, from earlier this year, found that the majority of private companies valued at $1 billion and above had at least one immigrant founder. That includes Uber, Slack, FanDuel and Eventbrite.

For CRV, though, this seems to be a moral issue as well, and that's why the firm felt it needed to do something to counteract Trump's language.

"We stand behind immigrants, the sons and daughters of immigrants, and anyone with the immigrant spirit. That’s why we want to move beyond rhetoric and focus on concrete actions to support our founders," wrote CRV. 

"If you feel you fit the bill, come share your stories and your ideas. If you are for building walls and stopping change, stay away. Bigots need not apply."

Trump and tech

To be fair, Trump has never said he wants to stifle innovation by taking away visas from very smart people. He has just said the system has been abused.  

Unfortunately, Trump isn't eloquent enough to say so. But he does make a point. One way the system is being abused is that outsourcers are generally taking all of the H1-B slots. These are companies based outside the US and hiring non-US workers to work in those countries. Only 3% of those workers actually apply for a Green Card.

CRV is hardly the first tech player to come out and blast Donald Trump. Not by a long shot.

The list includes investor Marc Andreessen, who has gotten into multiple Twitter feuds with him, and Sequoia's Michael Moritz, who labeled Trump as a "loser" and a "hustler."

Mark Zuckerberg, meanwhile, essentially declared himself to be the anti-Trump, while also implicitly calling the candidate out at the F8 developer conference in April, after which Facebook employees at the company actually asked him if they should try and stop Trump from becoming President. 

More recently, some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley wrote an open letter denouncing Trump as "a disaster for innovation." Those who signed included Stewart Butterfield, Troy Carter, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Barry Diller, David Hornik, David Karp, Jed Katz, Vinod Khosla, Aileen Lee, Aaron Levie, Dave Morin, Alexis Ohanian, Mark Pincus, Dave Samuel, Robert Scoble, Jeremy Stoppelman, Jimmy Wales, Hunter Walk, Ev Williams and Steve Wozniak.

It's also not the first time that Trump has sparred with Silicon Valley over immigration. In fact, his very first fight with the tech world revolved around that very subject, when went after them over H-1B visas, which Fwd.us, the pro-immigration PAC started by Mark Zuckerberg, has been lobbying to increase.

H-1B visas allow U.S. employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis in what are known as "specialty occupations." These are jobs that require highly specialized knowledge, such as computer science.

These workers are supposed to be paid the same as all other employees, but many have accused companies that hire workers on these visas of, essentially, exploiting them by paying them less. Trump is among those critics, and has accused companies in the tech ecosystem of using these visa to pay workers lower wages, and to take away jobs from qualified Americans. 

"More than half of H-1B visas are issued for the program's lowest allowable wage level, and more than eighty percent for its bottom two. Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas," Trump wrote.

FWD.us responded to Trump's accusations, saying that, "The idea we should radically restrict pathways for highly-skilled immigrants to come and stay here is –again – just wrong."

We still have 80-something more days before this election. It wouldn't surprise me if we get even more tech people going on record against Trump before this thing is finally over. 

(Image source: nytimes.com)

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