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America’s Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Technology

By Limus Woods

As America debates immigration reform in 2015, we should remember that the contributions of hard working people from foreign places have enhanced this country in many ways, especially in the area of technology. In fact, the co-founder and former CEO of Yahoo! Inc., one of the founders of You Tube, and the creator of Google are all from distant lands.

Steve Chen
2015 marks the tenth year that we all have been enjoying YouTube, one of the most well loved sites ever created. YouTube started out as a fun idea in a garage, but now over half of the videos that are viewed online today are from this sharing site. One of the three founders is Steve Chen, was born in Taiwan and with his family, emigrated to the States when he was 8. He attended the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and after graduation, worked at what is probably the best site online today to send and receive money via business transactions - PayPal.
                                 One of the founders of YouTube, Steve Chen. Image used courtesy of


Sergey Brin
Even before buying You Tube in 2006 for $1.6 billion, Google was the most popular search engine on the Internet. Sergey Brin, originally from Moscow, Russia, was a student at Stanford University in the late 1990’s when he met Larry Page, the other original creator of the mega Internet probing tool that is now used by billions every day. Brin and Page were really just working on a research project with the goal of trying to organize pages on the Internet. They determined that the best way to do it would be to list them by popularity, making the most useful results after a search appear highest on the page.
                                    Founder of Google, Moscow-born Sergy Brin. Image used courtesy of
The name Google came from a term in mathematics that represents the number 1 followed by 100 zeros called a “googol”. Brin’s affinity for math and science is, no doubt inspired by his father, who was a mathematician and an economist in the Soviet Union. Sergey was born in August of 1973 and emigrated with his family to the United States when he was six years old, to escape religious persecution.

Jerry Yang
Jerry Yang, a co-founder of Yahoo, was born in Taiwan in the late 1960’s and his family moved to the United States when he was 10. Yang left the company in 2012, having already proven himself a business mastermind, to redirect his energy to the Stanford University Board of Trustees. Maybe it was because he felt at home there. Yang received his Master’s degree in Engineering at Stanford and he met his wife, Akiko Yamazaki, a successful Wildlife Conservation Director there. Stanford University is also where he’d met his close friend and business partner David Filo, the other founder of Yahoo. Together, they started a site called “Jerry and Dave’s Guide to the World Wide Web”, that quickly became too popular to keep a secret, and eventually it evolved into Yahoo. Not long after, the worldwide revolutionary, online navigational guide was born.
                              Former Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang. Image used courtesy of
President Obama’s plan for immigration reform can ensure that future generations in America will benefit from the worldwide diversity and thinking of history-making entrepreneurs, such the three lifestyle changing revolutionaries mentioned above. One running similarity between Yang, Brin and Chen is that they all came to the United States as preteens, as do many of the brightest foreign students that now grace the halls of the wonderful learning institutions across our nation. One of the goals of President Obama’s Executive Order is to keep those promising students in the U.S., allow them to grow into productive citizens, attend colleges and universities here, and create jobs on American soil in the decades to come.
Contributing writer Limus Woods can be contacted at