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Why Forbes Says Immigrants Make Better Entrepreneurs

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the nobody-hates-new-immigrants-like-old-immigrants dept.

Businesses 171

An anonymous reader writes "Romanian emigre Christian Gheorghe is running a Silicon Valley software company now (Tidemark Systems) after getting started in the U.S. hauling plywood on a construction site. Forbes summarizes his path to the top and sees a wider story about immigrants' edge as entrepreneurs."

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They took urr jerbs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955685)

They took urr jerbs!

Re:They took urr jerbs? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955941)

They took urr jerbs!

Put slightly more specifically, according to the article:

"They made ahh jerb, and den dey took it! Dey took dere jerbs!"

How is this a representative sample? (5, Insightful)

dorpus (636554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955705)

The story dwells on one person's story. There are any number of people (both Americans and immigrants) who take any available job and try to work their way up, but opportunities never appear.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (4, Informative)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955883)

who take any available job and try to work their way up, but opportunities never appear.

Yeah, this story shouldn't be used as representative of immigrants being better entrepreneurs. Had this guy come here and started the firm on his own, THAT would have been a good story.

Here, he happened to come into contact with someone who needed someone to help them and took a chance. This guy then used the money he earned there to parlay it into a business he most likely would not have been able to start otherwise.

It's a good story, not trying to knock this guy, but when hacks like Forbes try to show the spirit of entrepreneurship and capitalism is alive and well, they always seem to leave out the part where that person got a lucky break or windfall through no effort on their own.

Facebook, for as much as I detest it, is a good example of entrepreneurship. Zuckerberg might have had the inkling from the twins, but it was he who saw it through to the bitter end and made the company what it is.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957215)

*whoosh*

Re:How is this a representative sample? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957217)

You mention that he essentially added to the work which he was brought in to do. It's a fine example of right place at the right time.

Zuckerberg, Gates, and so many other famous "successful" people were in the right place at the right time (and had a lot of deep pockets behind them). Of course, the bit there in brackets has helped to various extents - usually as much as the pockets are deep.

You don't often hear about those who failed.
Here's a change to that. [wikipedia.org]

Re:How is this a representative sample? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957353)

there's a Zucker born every minute (well every social networking generation anyway)

Re:How is this a representative sample? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957469)

Exactly, it isn't that they take any job. entrepreneurs are people who are willing to take chances, i.e., work without a net. In the case of Zuckerberg, he was in college and had everything to gain and nothing to lose. That's where many immigrants come from, but being an immigrant doesn't guarantee you have that attitude.

Most people aren't entrepreneurs because they value stability or what is perceived as stability. Stability lets you work for 40 hours and not think about your job for the rest of the week. Being an entrepreneur guarantees working many hours, but no reward.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957635)

Wow. You talk about people getting lucky breaks but then forget to mention that Zuck was already going to a VERY prestigious school surrounded by opportunity, money and ideas. Facebook is not this great invention simply because a lot of people use it. A lot of people use it, thats the best you can really say about it. It doesnt reflect on Zuckerberg's character or ability to overcome adversity. It remains to be seen what kind of man he will be, his track record is not great so far.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (2)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955887)

The story dwells on one person's story. There are any number of people (both Americans and immigrants) who take any available job and try to work their way up, but opportunities never appear.

They may as well write a story about a million people who flipped a coin 20 times and the amazing success of the handful who got 20 heads in a row, then give us a guide on how we can live our lives like them. Oh wait, I just described how the entire supposedly merit-based investment banking industry is run.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956489)

Oh wait, I just described how the entire supposedly merit-based country is run.

FTFY

Re:How is this a representative sample? (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957107)

Except at the CEO level....

Re:How is this a representative sample? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956799)

My own experience is that "lucky breaks" come to those who seek them out and are willing to take risks.

Colonel, if you feel you haven't gotten your share of "lucky breaks", maybe you ought to try harder. It's amazing what can be accomplished if you try.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957367)

Chance favors the prepared mind.

I know people who have actually turned disciplinary actions against them into a career, because it gave them the opportunity to meet someone who they would not have otherwise.

And I am not even just talking about My Cousin Vinny.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (1)

Kurrel (1213064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957641)

Yeah, that movie gave me the courage to upgrade from a lowly window-peeper to the full-time, restraining-order-crossing stalker of Marissa Tomei I am today.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (5, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955905)

The story dwells on one person's story. There are any number of people (both Americans and immigrants) who take any available job and try to work their way up, but opportunities never appear.

The story is a story? OMG! Let me spell this out for you, in case you missed the first paragraph of TFS: immigrants represent twice their share of the entrepreneurial population, and the path of Christian Gheorghe is at least slightly representative of the background that immigrants have that might cause them to become entrepreneurs.

The real "gotcha" here isn't that "oh well people in the US can do that too;" it's that unsuccessful would-be immigrants typically either never leave their home country (willingness to move internationally is a pretty obvious proxy for other ambitions) or they end up moving back to their native land if things don't go their way in the US. In other words, in order to make it as an immigrant you basically NEED to follow the entrepreneur's path.

Ultimately what this means is that there is a creaming effect on immigrants, the "best and brightest" of other nations seek out the US to make a life and name for themselves and the process of doing so separates the wheat from the chaff. This is a process that really should be encouraged (along with home-grown entrepreneurship) because what it ultimately means is that innovation is still strong(est) in the US leading to many obvious benefits.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (5, Insightful)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956105)

I think you nicely illustrate the poing of the post to which you're responding. Your post gives far more insight and interesting discussion about the reasons why immigrants make better entrepreneurs than does the Forbes article. The Forbes article says nothing of substance.

There's another post just below here, which also has way more salient commentary than is contained within the Forbes article:

People who are forced to learn a new language and culture are rewarded with a huge advantage in people skills. As most of us know, financial success is 90% people skills. (I recently saw a study reported by Forbes that concluded exactly that, even though I had assumed it for years.)

Some career executives are smart, and some not so smart, but they all have one thing in common: top-notch, world-class people skills. It is people skills that gets you to the top.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956833)

Financial success is not 90% people skills. It's education or industry experience. In other words, can you separate the wheat from the chaff when dealing with goods, services, even your own workers in your business? If you only have people skills, how do you determine value? How do you get maximum bang for your buck? You don't. You can't. With people skills, anyone can bullshit you into anything if they're convincing enough. They seem like the real deal and you have no skill-set to verify if what they're telling you is real. These shysters abound especially in business. Another way to go about verification is to bring in your own experts ... but that is not always an option.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957073)

Bullshit. If that was true those shysters would not abound. They would go out of business.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957145)

Also, since they come from a different culture, they don't see issues leaving a really low tip. Which of course messes with the whole food chain. So culturally "being a jerk" is not for some people that it's used to see tips lower than 10%.

The way to save more money is reducing those "overpayments" at the expense of a badly tipped waiter/waitress. So this also translates into people that used to make a fair living out of tips, requiring more effort. All the cultural differences pile up.

But to agree with you, yes. People that have a hard time but make the effort to continue, are likely more risky to invest in their own company and therefore have a better entrepreneur background.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956263)

And blacks represent three times their share of the prison population, but Liberals will tell us it's purely because of racism.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (3, Insightful)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956733)

I think a little quote from the GP explains a lot:

who take any available job and try to work their way up, but opportunities never appear.

You see, the thing about emigrants is that they are not satisfied by staying within the system they know, going for the steady plod up and hopeing that luck will land them with a big opportunity. The passive way never works unless you're born in the right family with the right connections.

Immigrants go out there and make their own way: they seek or maketheir own opportunities. After all, this is the kind of people that is willing to leave their own country, their family, friends and all that they know to go to a far away place where even things like unwriten social norms are different - starting your own company is a far easier endeavour.

The reason I know this is because I'm one of them and, not so long ago, after 3 countries and 7 years as a freelancer in IT I started my own Startup. I look around in the startup incubator where I'm based (Google Campus in London) and most people in there doing the same as me are foreigners too - in light of what it says in this NYTimes article, the abundance of foreigners now makes sense to me.

(PS: the GP's posture kinda reminds me of a friend of my who is an actrice - a profession with high unemployment - whose acting career goes nowhere preciselly because she keeps waiting for acting gigs rather than being out there promoting herself and looking hard for new opportunities)

Re:How is this a representative sample? (0)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956855)

That's bullshit. There are plenty of immigrants to the US who have worked their whole lives in low-paying, shit jobs. This guys story is an outlier. And with respects to your story, the plural of anecdote is not evidence. Come back when you have statistics without extreme sampling bias and you might be convincing.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957143)

I think a little quote from the GP explains a lot:

who take any available job and try to work their way up, but opportunities never appear.

You see, the thing about emigrants is that they are not satisfied by staying within the system they know, going for the steady plod up and hopeing that luck will land them with a big opportunity. The passive way never works unless you're born in the right family with the right connections.

Immigrants go out there and make their own way: they seek or maketheir own opportunities.

and perhaps you should check the number of immigrants who "make" it as entrepreneurs vs those that fail entirely? I'll bet both ends are higher percentages than the average. Why? Because when you try more risky endeavors, you tend to fail more. Also, a reason someone might try riskier things is because as an immigrant, say a doctor, PhD, dentist, etc back in your home country, you could practice, but upon arriving in the US, you cannot, because you need X/Y/Z certification and/or 4+ years from an accredited program, 100K in debt, etc. At that point, those are not options for them, and working at BurgerHut loses its appeal quickly. Starting your own business, however, doesn't require all those prerequisites. So you might look at the high number of immigrant entrepreneurs as people driven by desperation to do something other than the mediocre dream deadening tasks the native society deems they should be happy with.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (2, Funny)

trevc (1471197) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957309)

Emigration from Romania to the USA raises the average intelligence level of both nations.

People skills (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955907)

People who are forced to learn a new language and culture are rewarded with a huge advantage in people skills. As most of us know, financial success is 90% people skills. (I recently saw a study reported by Forbes that concluded exactly that, even though I had assumed it for years.)

Some career executives are smart, and some not so smart, but they all have one thing in common: top-notch, world-class people skills. It is people skills that gets you to the top.

Mod parent up. (2)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955931)

There are any number of people (both Americans and immigrants) who take any available job and try to work their way up, but opportunities never appear.

But researching that is too much like work.

And no one wants to read the story of a nice immigrant who gets an okay job working for someone else and raises an okay family and sends his okay kids to an okay college after which they get okay jobs working for someone else.

Instead, let's focus on the few who DO become successful entrepreneurs (at this moment) and extrapolate trends from those.

Re:Mod parent up. (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956927)

And no one wants to read the story of a nice immigrant who gets an okay job working for someone else and raises an okay family and sends his okay kids to an okay college after which they get okay jobs working for someone else.

So publication bias isn't just in medical journals?

Re:How is this a representative sample? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955937)

So the real lesson to learn is that fresh new blood immigrants are doing better because old money local American (like the folks at Forbes) are losing their edge?

Re:How is this a representative sample? (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955961)

On the other hand, it nicely illustrates the dangers of self-selected samples. The article focuses on smart people with a specialized body of knowledge who decide that anything is better than their shithole, and are willing to start from scratch in a better place. That decision alone requires guts, determination and a willingness to fight. In other words, successful immigrant entrepreneurs have a special personality profile and skillset that is less common in the general population. Shocking. Next, Forbes will tell us that immigrants arriving in the US with no special skills, no special education and a habit to segregate themselves in their ethnic community will be more likely to be and stay poor than the average American.

There's a reason Forbes isn't taken seriously in the business world, and it's articles like this.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956061)

The article focuses on smart people with a specialized body of knowledge who decide that anything is better than their shithole, and are willing to start from scratch in a better place.

I don't know about America, but most first world countries' immigration systems only allow such people to move there legally. People with no skills who want to live on welfare need not apply.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956159)

We're not allowed to have a border. It's racist. Or something.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (3, Insightful)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955975)

...but opportunities never appear

There is your answer.

It is about making your own opportunity. The guy in the story could have taken the same job as his father had and waited for an opportunity to appear, but he wouldn't be where he is.

There is nothing fundamental about immigrants making their own opportunity other than many of them took a giant leap of faith to gamble what they had to build their fortune in a new country, much like many entrepreneurs gamble what they have to build their business.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (2)

dpilot (134227) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956059)

A "one in a million" story makes it the general model for success for anyone, right?

How many immigrants are stuck in bottom-end jobs?
How do the percentages compare with home-grown?

They say "twice as likely to launch a high-tech startup", but that's also against the statistic I've heard that most business startups fail within 5 years. Maybe they really are successful at these startups, buy maybe their success rate is only half or less of home-grown. Maybe they did the launch because they didn't know the ropes well enough to see the failure looming. Sometimes it works to see the failure and word around/over, sometimes it doesn't.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (1)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956215)

The story dwells on one person's story.

I hear the next issue cover story is about why journalists are better than average statisticians...

Re:How is this a representative sample? (2)

jonadab (583620) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956291)

> The story dwells on one person's story.

It has to, in order to be attractive to the reading audience.

In any case, the underlying idea that immigrants are more likely to start businesses is true as far as it goes, but it's not specific to the US. It's true in general: most of the people in any given population are insufficiently motivated to do things like immigrate to a different country or start a business and work hard enough to make it a success. That's true worldwide.

In other words, when you're looking for how many people are sufficiently driven to start a business and make it fly, looking among people who are already known to be motivated enough to immigrate to a foreign country is disingenuous. Basically, to quote xkcd, that's the mother of all sampling biases.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956765)

There are a couple of guys out on my lawn pulling weeds that have a different story to tell.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957019)

But they said he (and other immigrants) have "pluck". So that's the difference. It's "pluck". If opportunities aren't appearing, it's simply because those people don't have enough pluck.

Re:How is this a representative sample? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957603)

That's the stupidest plucking thing I've ever heard...

Who you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955709)

Yet another story about contacts being more important than know-how. As if we didn't know that already.

Another misinterpretation of data (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955733)

Of course, being an immigrant is, in itself, a filter. Leaving your native country for better opportunities is a strong sign of entrepreneurship. When will journalists learn?

Re:Another misinterpretation of data (2)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955977)

Especially when you're coming legally to the US. That is a huge hurdle.

Re:Another misinterpretation of data (2)

The Raven (30575) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956147)

> When will journalists learn?
Not so. The journalist didn't say 'people outside the US are better', they said 'US immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs', and this is completely true specifically because of the filter (which is covered in the article). Immigrants are ambitious risk takers; ambitious risk takers are more likely to start their own business.

We need more ambitious risk takers in the US.

Re:Another misinterpretation of data (2)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956483)

You hear a lot of the single-issue types shouting about "get back in the immigration line and do it legally!!" not knowing how convoluted and expensive the whole process is.

Just to illustrate how convoluted, difficult, and expensive the whole process is - there are countless Chinese families from China and Taiwan who pack up their entire families and move to Panama or Paraguay (or any other place with a more liberal immigration quota number for the US), live there for 5-10 years while their kids are going to school there learning English and Espanol, then packing up everything once again and moving to the US when the papers go through. Now that takes some effort and perseverance - and illustrates how difficult the "normal" channels are if people are jumping through hoops like this.

The self-selecting aspect of it is definitely true. While these people are spending 5-10 years in some tinpot Latin American country, they usually end up doing pretty well. I spoke with a few Chinese immigrants in Buenos Aires when I was there and it wasn't unusual for some of those guys to end up owning 4-5 convenient stores by the time they pack up and go somewhere else. You have to be in the top of the food chain to survive in a business-unfriendly, anti-immigration environment where you have zero cultural relevancy.

Oh god (2)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957463)

Because all do the same thing for the same reason. Leaving your country to seek a fortune elsewhere is also the sign of a quitter, a person looking for an easy way out, or someone who did something so terrible back home, he has to run. Cue bleeding hearts sheltering war criminals because they can't see that someone fleeing prosecution might actually being prosecuted for the right reasons.

That is not even counting the ones who were trafficked with promises of a job and end up a sex-worker, those people make good entrepreneurs as well you think?

The idea that a very wide label as immigrant means every person labeled by it is the same is insane. It is the core of racism, doesn't matter if it is so called positive or negative racism.

Mystery solved (1, Flamebait)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955745)

Immigrints are less spoiled than westerners.

Re:Mystery solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955865)

Yes the mystery is solved, spoiled people can only live in the west. Good one for pointing that.... /sarcasm

Re:Mystery solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955921)

So no immigrants are westerners...?

Re:Mystery solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955949)

Immigrints are less spoiled than westerners.

The company I used to work for admitted that they preferred to hire immigrants over "westerners" because you can treat a immigrant like a slave and they will still keep working for you. Westerners don't put up with that attitude and like to be treated with dignity.

Re:Mystery solved (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956299)

That's a right winger's definition of "spoiled": an unwillingness to participate in a rigged game.

Re:Mystery solved (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957387)

That's a left winger's response.

I bet you'd find drug dealers and others... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955773)

... make excellent entrepeneurs as well. You know what they all have in common? They're willing to pursue their goals and prefer to beg forgiveness rather than ask permission. That's the #1 thing that all the current crop of silicon valley companies have in common. Not all of them following this formula still exist, but that's what they all have in common, questionable legal standing that they didn't allow to get in the way of making profits hand over fist, and low infrastructure costs to get in the way of rapid expansion.

And if I know this, why am I not rich? Something to do with not doing the crime if you're not willing to do the time. Also I'm lousy with people :)

Re:I bet you'd find drug dealers and others... (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957181)

I bet you'd find drug dealers and others ... make excellent entrepeneurs as well.

You'd think so [ted.com] , right? Apparently, that enterprise is run like any other. The Wire [stuffwhitepeoplelike.com] did a decent job of portraying its day-to-day.

Re:I bet you'd find drug dealers and others... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957279)

Donald Trump once said that every successful start-up operates on the edge of legality.
It's akin to the car racing: if you use >99% of your car's capabilities - you die, 99% - you loose.

duh (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955793)

It is self selection. Immigrants are not risk adverse and are self motivated pretty much by definition. Both skills lend them selves to starting a business.

Because white people... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955819)

are lazy and less industrious and whine less than Chinese, who work hard because they know that's the only way to get ahead without white guy connections.

Is that the whole story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955841)

The word "Why" in the headline suggests that the story will attempt to give us an answer in return for our clickthru. I guess they did - it was one word.

"Pluck."

Gee, Forbes! Thanks.

They have it backwards (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39955869)

Immigrants are a self-selecting group. It's quite obvious that an entrepreneurial individual would be more likely to do something risky and ambitious like immigrating to another country.

Re:They have it backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956427)

I am an immigrant myself (having immigrated to two different countries already as a skilled worker).

Based on my own experience, I can also add this to the discussion: As an immigrant, you arrive to a strange place where you have no friends and very little in terms of a support network (e.g., parents and relatives). It is a very fragile position to be in. I have put myself in that position so it better be worth the effort. Hence I have an extra incentive to make the most of it.

But I do not think necessarily immigration is a good thing. There are plenty of problems associated with it - particularly in Europe, where integration as a challenging (mostly in the case of muslins than anything else). But I believe a good immigration program targeting the right people and perhaps focusing on immigrants that have a similar cultural background can be very successful.

Propaganda from the 1% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955943)

They're just pushing the lie and myth that if you work hard enough earning a pittance to enrich somebody else (as happened to this fellow repeatedly), then eventually your hard graft will get you somewhere. What they neglect to tell you is that a lot of what you need to get ahead in highly unequal societies like the US, is _luck_. The 1% like cheap labour -- their whole ideology revolves around forcing down the cost of labour and them seizing a bigger slice of the pie.

The message is that if you're a good girl or boy and work your guts out, you'll be rewarded. It's libertarian, Ayn Rand bullshit -- for every story about somebody hitting the big time, there are 100 stories about people who slave like coolies for 70 hours a week, and still remain poor.

Re:Propaganda from the 1% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956719)

You are right. I'd much rather camp out in some shithole, waving signs and beating drums.

Your problem is that the only alternative you have is a system that takes, at gunpoint, the wealth of others so that you presumably don't have to "work your guts out" like those whose money they are taking away.

Re:Propaganda from the 1% (0)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957047)

False dichotomy.

Get an education please.

Moral of the story (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955991)

Stop complaining and get a job you dirty hippies

Immigrants like Gheorghe don’t dawdle in their pursuit of better opportunities. They start at any available entry point in the job market, and then rapidly advance toward very ambitious personal goals. They keep pushing ahead, even if it means hauling plywood on a construction site or making small talk with whatever big shots they might be driving around in a borrowed limo.

Notion of the American Dream (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39955993)

I don't know if it's relevant, but I can see the point.

Imagine you're an Immigrant. New country, new opportunities. The place you come from is a real hole and at every turn you see econmic prosperity. I'd be excited if I got to get my hands on things I never had access too before. If had a good vision, and I knew that nothing but hard work was between myself and success? Damn right I'd be sucessful. That is the problem with being an Entrepreneur. Having an idea is about 2% of your key to success. The other 150% is hard work. Really really really hard 100 hours a week endless work.

The problem with being here, in the land of opportunity is that we're saturated in it. We lose perspective.We don't know what's really important and we lack the motivation to find out.

The example of a selection bias (1)

KingofSpades (874684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956007)

As written above, the result is not so surprising since emigrating is an enterprise in its own right.

Another question is whether foreigners make better entrepreneurs. Doing such a study would need to include those who haven't migrated in order of avoiding a selection bias [wikipedia.org] .

Story summarized (2)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956025)

Introductory paragraph that states immigrants are twice as likely to launch a high-tech startup as their native born peers, and introduces us to Christian Gheorghe.

Eight paragraphs on Gheorghe's story (which is interesting, to be fair, talking about his first job in the U.S. in 1989 which was carrying plywood for $100 a week and a free bologna sandwich at lunchtime).

Last two paragraphs are a comment on the number of immigrants earning engineering Ph.D.s in recent years and finally some boring generic drivel about "they keep pushing ahead".

Gheorghe's story is interesting and he's obviously worked really hard. But this is a useless and silly story. There's no insight or discussion or, well, anything of any substance.

P.S. - pedant mode on. The /. headline is badly written. "Why Forbes Says Immigrants Make Better Entrepreneurs" - because it gets page views, just like Slashdot. What you actually mean is "Forbes Discusses Why Immigrants Make Better Entrepreneurs". Which the Forbes article doesn't do; it just gives eight paragraphs of a case study surrounded by meaningless drivel. Pedant mode off.

Re:Story summarized (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956195)

P.S. - pedant mode on. The /. headline is badly written. "Why Forbes Says Immigrants Make Better Entrepreneurs" - because it gets page views, just like Slashdot. What you actually mean is "Forbes Discusses Why Immigrants Make Better Entrepreneurs".

"Forbes reporter can't make deadline, files anecdote instead of full story, editor screams at him but slaps on headline. Good enough for Forbes' readers, and Slashdot's too."

ftfy

Re:Story summarized (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956211)

But blathering about case studies is easy and social science has numbers in it!

Goals, Options, Observations and Ethics (3, Interesting)

readin (838620) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956041)

I lived in Taiwan for a while. I was told, and it fits with what I've seen, that while children in America are raised on the dream of getting a secure high paying job, children in Taiwan are raised on the dream of owning their own business. I suspect that dream doesn't go away just because they move to America.

Americans are used to the options of 1. always being able to find a job (McDonald's is always hiring) and nearly always a decent job (English is the ticket) and 2. having welfare as an option if they're too lazy or "too good" to take the jobs that are available. Immigrants are often raised in places where those options don't exist and starting your own business is the only way to survive. Starting a business is risky and takes a lot of work. Why do it if you have other options for a secure prosperous future?

An immigrant is likely to see opportunities an American would miss because growing up in another culture they know there is another way to do things. For example, if I were more entrepreneurial, artistic and less risk-averse, I would start a business taking wedding photos like I saw in Taiwan and marketing this service to American women. There is more than one way to do wedding photos but living only in America you might not see it.

Re:Goals, Options, Observations and Ethics (1)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956667)

I know of the wedding photos that you speak of. Good luck getting American men to effeminize themselves with heavy makeup and being photoshopped hopping around on clouds and air bubbles while chasing his bride around in a forest or lake setting.

My friend tried to start up something like this and he lost his shirt doing it. Unless you're in a community with a very large Asian diaspora, it's a business doomed to fail based on cultural incompatibility.

Re:Goals, Options, Observations and Ethics (1)

nhat11 (1608159) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957071)

Nice way to be racist and narrowminded of the Taiwanese culture. He was only giving examples and experiences when travelling while you sound like a jealous pompous jerk. His example goes both ways. You can move to another country and present ideas that are otherwise not thought off or not popular.

Micro vs Macroeconomics (4, Interesting)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956095)

The presumption that immigrants make "better" entrepreneurs has a lot of microeconomic evidence but the macroeconomic evidence against it is overwhelming.

Since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 set in motion the process of electing a new people, there has been a collapse in the middle class. Since the ramp-up of "skilled" immigration, there has been a collapse of the economy itself.

This supports the theory that the older cultures that have been taking up positions of trust and authority in government, academia and business are, unsurprisingly, more sophisticated in playing the rent-seeking and zero-sum games required to gain access to resources necessary to "succeed". However, due to the kinds of games that must be played to acquire these resources, the effect on the overall human ecology has been to deprive the traditional American people -- the folks who invented the airplane, computer, transistor, planar integrated circuit, etc., -- of the resources to express their historic ingenuity. As a consequence, fundamental technological innovation hasn't occurred for decades.

Re:Micro vs Macroeconomics (1)

mdragan (1166333) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956933)

The planar process was developed by Jean Hoerni, born in Geneva, Switzerland (moved to the USA in 1952).
The invention of the computer (as a general purpose programmable machine) goes to Charles Babbage in 1837 (supposed to be mechanical), a Brit, in UK. The first built programmable electro-mechanical computer was created by Konrad Zuse in Germany in 1941. The first programmable electronic computer was the Colossus, built in 1943 by Tommy Flowers a British guy, in the UK.
The design of the first modern DIGITAL computer is indeed American.
And since you are talking about "scientists" and technological inventions, it could be interesting to see how much of the technology invented in the USA was made possible by immigrant scientists and engineers. I'm sure we can create a bigger list than the one you mention.

"planar" wasn't the fundamental invention (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957233)

The "planar" process was based on the original patent for the integrated circuit itself [google.com] . That fundamental innovation was patented by Robert Noyce of Grinnell, Iowa. Hoerni was one of Noyce's "Congregation [forbes.com] ". My mistake was in conflating the refinement with the fundamental innovation.

The first actual electronic computation in Ames IA (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957431)

According to patent priority [wikipedia.org] , the first computer to do actual electronic computation was in the agricultural school at Ames, IA. Moreover, that project was terminated and resourced diverted to WW II efforts like Colossus which utilized less advanced technology to achieve obvious elaborations such as stored programs. You're correct that various forms of computers had been conceived but reduction to practice had to await the kind of culture present in the US land grant colleges, much as actual controlled flight had to await some middle class tinkerers in Ohio.

Who said "scientists" (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957467)

You quote the word "scientists" as though I had used the term.

I most deliberately did not.

There is, however, something to be said for maintaining a strong middle class of economically independent yeoman as that does appear to be the source of scientific revolutions as well as technical revolutions [blogspot.com] .

Re:Micro vs Macroeconomics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956947)

If by older cultures, you mean blue blood American families who trace their ancestry to the Mayflower, then yes, those families are firmly established in government, academia and business. These old culture Americans know the system and laws of this country better than any immigrants and as such have better odds of succeeding and of using the law to push competition out. They are also better than anyone around at corporate rent-seeking, legal tax avoidance (via loopholes) and at using the law to their ends. Immigrants take risks by definition. As such they often trespass on older culture turf. This causes the entrenched older culture to attack these immigrant upstarts via legal and illegal means. (lawsuits, price wars, thuggery etc.) The entrenched older culture ensures the status quo and its perpetuation. Again, as an immigrant, if you do the crime (move into an older culture domain -- i.e. market) be prepared to do the time.

Re:Micro vs Macroeconomics (2)

LastGunslinger (1976776) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957369)

Traditional American people? I didn't realize those inventions you mentioned were developed on reservations. The rest of us aren't usually more than a few generations removed from immigrants. This was especially true half a century or more ago when those technologies you listed were developed. Can you please cite the evidence where the overall economy, real wages, or standard-of-living of Americans has "collapsed" since 1965? Or where "fundamental technological innovation" has ceased? Increased economic prosperity for nations outside of the US and Western Europe may be a scary prospect to racists and xenophobes, but it's not necessarily the death knell for America.

Which is why... (1, Insightful)

Glasswire (302197) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956127)

Canada, the most similar economy to that of the US, does so well economically in part because it's had a huge tradition of immigrant entrepreneurship for decades.
Whereas the immigrant xenophobia in the US leads to incidents like a senior manager at a foreign car plant getting arrested [thinkprogress.org] for not having the right paperwork. If you treat foreign investors (who could put plants elsewhere) like that, what does it say to someone thinking of moving to the US to start a business?

Lazy people stay home... (1)

jd.schmidt (919212) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956137)

Duh, how much more obvious does it get. They are self-selecting for determination.

Self selection (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956349)

Seriously, this is not scientific at all. This person selected himself from a pool that, in the aggregate, probably looks no different than than the US population in terms of intelligence, motivation, etc. He is probably in the top 10% or so in his native country. So obviously he would make a better entrepreneur.

To make a sweeping statement based on one anecdote is typical info-tainment.

Re:Self selection (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957229)

How funny you should pick the 10% figure [tvtropes.org] .

Laughable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956403)

What abouut the other millions of immigrants that never become anything? If they truly were better entrepreneurs then there would be a hell of a lot of immigrants not driving cabs, sweeping floors and piicking fruit.

Besides what about like steve jobs or the guy who started total quality logistics? They were normal guys who went on to make millions and have a successful company and they werent immigrants.

Being very successful when you start with nothing is purely based on luck and nothing. Millions each year in america try to start their own business some fail before they start, some get going and then fail, some get close and some do it and then fewer still make it big. Has nothing to do with their nationality. It just has to do with they actually tried and that they were in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.

mod 0p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956515)

these 3haalenges during play, this the project to

Consider the source (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956537)

A magazine which reports on "finance, industry, investing, and marketing" reporting about how great it is to replace your CEO with an H1B visa carrier? I think this takes the cake.

Re:Consider the source (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956779)

so they not only take our jobs, but now they take our cake too??

Immigrants are smarter and more motivated (2)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956607)

That's how they were able to get out from where they came.

Re:Immigrants are smarter and more motivated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957417)

If they come from a shithole, they're probably smarter than the people they left behind, but that doesn't make them smarter or more motivated than the people in their destination nation.

Leaving one's homeland to be more entrepreneurial? (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956669)

Recently I was talking with someone from Ukraine, has a startup of applying software methods in building design (not a CAD system but buildings that can be modified like software or something like that, I didn't fully understand his concepts). He made a comment of people that leave their homelands are the ones that strive for innovation, creativity, trying new stuff, or whatever you want to call it. He said look at regions of the world, those with lots of immigrants and those without, the ones with lots of immigrants are the places with highest developments and latest innovations. Those countries where people tend to stay generation after generation are places with poorest economic conditions. I asked what was it like growing up in Ukraine which he said, "I didn't feel like I fit in, I don't like drinking."

Meanwhile another immigrant, from India working as a physicist at CalTech, mentioned how bad the H1-1B laws are which conversation went on to some people in California establishing a barge to house startups. These barges will be parked off the coast so startups can bring in immigrants and not deal with H1-1B and other work visa bureaucracies. He also mentioned companies are considering hospital ships so doctors can practice treatments that are highly politicized (i.e. stem cell). Wham, month later this became a slashdot article: http://news.slashdot.org/story/12/05/08/1327222/nearly-150-companies-show-interest-in-the-tech-love-boat [slashdot.org]

Less to lose for immigrants? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39956671)

Immigrants have less to lose if the business fails. They can nearly always return home and start over with a blank slate. If you are a native and your business fails, where can you go to start over without your failure haunting you for life? Credit reporting agency reports accomplish the same thing as balls and chains.

I think non-immigrants are also more in fear of the red tape that they are very aware exists. Sometimes, people who are new to this country aren't aware of all the rules and regulations that can stumble small business owners.

VAX VMS at Ticketmaster (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956845)

Ticketmaster is still VAX VMS [stanq.com] .

Here is a VAX [hp.com] still on the HP web site, and of course OpenVMS [hp.com] .

Breathing dusty air into the American dream (1)

Atrox666 (957601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956965)

Sure if I wanted to sleep 10 to a room and have a physically injurious work life balance, I can eventually eek out a small chance at a marginally profitable business. All the while large portions of my money are given away to other private businesses like banks and the Fed that will use it to pay lobbyists to work against me with what I earned. It's only called the American Dream because you'd have to be asleep to believe it. -Carlin

Where are the 20 stories of people who lost their homes and families going bankrupt because of the same bankers they are working to make rich?

  Some of these immigrants come from abject poverty and practical slavery. It's no small wonder that they flourish under a merely oppressive regime. It does not mean that it should be idealized into a model of how we should be living our lives. You get one life, if it's spent in misery then you wasted it.

Basically, I could give a shit about entrepeneurs. (0)

gatesstillborg (2633899) | more than 2 years ago | (#39956971)

I feel "workers" is the more significant category.

Though, as pointed out, this observation is more anecdotal based on its sample size, I believe there is a valid point here. Initially, anyways, it is a simple (ie. harmonic oscillation) case of "alternation of generations".

Basically, one generation has things hard and needs to apply themselves to get somewhere. Attaining prosperity, the next generation gets things handed to them, and thus never understands the necessity to apply themselves. Add to that the factor of excessive residual (eg. monetary) wealth, and the alternation frequency period is no longer 1:1 generational. (I.e. one n'er-do-well generation may beget another.) This is a scenario for serious long-term degradation of industrial and ultimately civic infrastructure, general prosperity, and culture. Americans also seem to bring some uncanny nihilism (?) to the mix.

Two things come to mind... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957039)

1) Why not take a risk when you have nothing to lose?

2) Folks who emmigrate in search for opportunity are bound to be driven.

Where's the "Why?" (1)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957137)

TFA that I read simply says they do make better entrepreneurs, and gives examples of someone making more effort than I do. But it does not say why. (Why I suck, or why they don't, whatever: I'll take either answer.)

pfft RIIIIGHT (1)

doston (2372830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957141)

The end of the artivle says it all.

"Immigrants like Gheorghe don’t dawdle in their pursuit of better opportunities. They start at any available entry point in the job market, and then rapidly advance toward very ambitious personal goals. They keep pushing ahead, even if it means hauling plywood on a construction site or making small talk with whatever big shots they might be driving around in a borrowed limo."

Yeah, in other words, come to the US and work in wage slavery for a while first, you big enterpreneur, you. Forbes is just business press and wants cheap labor. Trying to put a positive spin on immigration fot ifs corporate readers who *adore* cheap labor. There's a huge lack of real statistics in the article. It's basically an immigrant pyramid scheme, if you think about it. Come here and work for peanuts as a janitor, but keep those big dreams. NO "DAWDLING", now!

C0m (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39957179)

is mire1d in an [goat.cx]

It all depends on the individual's drive... not (1)

jerryjnormandin (1942378) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957647)

Around the year 1989 I was working as an Engineering Tech building and testing devices based on the 8051 embedded controller. Mostly access control systems. The company fell on financial hard times around 1990, I found myself dealing with unemployment. I was renting an apartment from my inlaws at the time, had two sons and one on the way. I hit the ground running looking for work, at that time the US was still designing and manufacturing products locally but the economic slowdown put the brakes on hiring anyone, no matter how good you were. So what did I do? I taught myself Solaris, CAD, hooked myself up as an Autodesk developer. Back in the 90s companies used to submit RFQs in the newspaper. I found one requesting a high speed large printer solution. I partnered with a company that provided such hardware, an high speed plotter. When I presented my company I had to come up with a name on the fly since I couldn't just be a DBA. I came up with Innovative Technology because the idea was that I'm gonna Innovate. The CTO of the company said "nice presentation, tell you what. Our current E size drawings take over 45 minutes to plot. We just won a contract to wire a major building in NYC. We need to cut the time down, can you help?" I replied that I could conduct a demo and plot out an E size drawing in less than 3 minutes. The CTO replied that If I could do that then they will offer me the contract. Well I called JDL, they hooked me up with another company, I wrote my code to integrate the plotter into their network, I bought a Sun Sparc 5 from a liquidator, ran my code on there. I installed PCNFS on the test workstation, connected to my printer driver, tested at the vendors site. I got the sample drawing done in 2.5 minutes. I was ready for the demo. I conducted the demo the following week, won the contract and the profit I earned bankrolled my business for a year. I grew the business, I added other vertical markets such as Point of Sale System, I even tought myself how to work on HP AS400 systems and landed a contract to provide system administration on a visiting nurse company's system. I ran my onw consulting gig for 6 years. The only reason why I sold it and gave it up was I had a young wife and family that I wanted to spend more time with. I put in over 140hrs /week into my business. With the experience I picked up I was able to get my resume out and get a new job in the IT Industry in one week. I used the money I saved to put down on my first house. Yes I miss running my own business, but when I ran my own business I missed my family. All in all it's been a great ride. I'm not an immigrant. I'm the great grandson of an immigrant if that counts. The way I look at it was I needed to leverage my skills to provide for me and my family. The motivation wasn't to earn megabucks. I would hustle, save some money, if I had a surplus for the month I'd take a short vacation with the wife and kids The short 3 day vacations wasn't enough though. Trust me, working 40hrs/week I see my family a lot more. I think anyone here on Slashdot, if they had to, they could run their own consulting business. Who knows, I may have to do it again someday.

Oh, for God's sake... (2)

kosty (52388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957653)

Gee, THANX, Forbes for clearing that up for me. This one is straight from the "DUH!?! Institute:" Ready? Here it comes. Wait for it...

How about the "fact" that the lazy or disabled or unskilled or just plain f$ckin' stupid ones STAYED THE F$CK HOME?!? They were unable to or just plain couldn't be bothered to move thousands of miles with no means to go through the extensive rectal examination that is "emmigration ---> immigration???" Can't believe I have to explain this so often...

Makes sense (1)

nhat11 (1608159) | more than 2 years ago | (#39957751)

If they took the time and effort to move all across the world, away from their family and friends, especially from a 2nd or 3rd world country with every little resources and their life experience in their disposal, they can risk a lot more than someone who's already situated here.
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