Ragy Thomas, founder and CEO of the social media platform Sprinklr, believes that a welcoming, streamlined immigration policy is vital to the economic future of America. As a technology entrepreneur, investor, and visionary, who has founded four startups and created thousands of jobs, Thomas’ own story reveals how drawing global talent to the country can fuel innovation, build businesses, and multiply job opportunities for other Americans.
Thomas was born and educated in India and received an undergraduate degree in computer science engineering from Pondicherry University. At 22, he came to the United States for a computer-programming job in Wisconsin. After six months in Wisconsin, he moved to the East Coast and advanced his career in leaps and bounds over the next 20 years. After getting his MBA in finance and information systems from New York University, he launched a series of successful startups, including an email marketing business that sold for $120 million. Today, Thomas runs Sprinklr, where he employs 1,200 people around the world.
As a country, we are blessed by being able to attract amazing people. We have to preserve the DNA of the United States by encouraging that.
Sprinklr helps more than 1,000 brands reach customers through various channels of social media and provides them with tracking and analytical data for improved targeted marketing. Thomas’ clients include some of the biggest global brands and half of the largest U.S. companies, such as Nike, McDonald’s, and Verizon. According to Forbes, Sprinklr surpassed $100 million in annualized revenue in 2015, up 150 percent from a year earlier. In a sector where marketers are known to change their preferences at the drop of a hat, Sprinklr has an impressive client retention rate of close to 95 percent. This is partly due to the level of customization and nimbleness that the firm provides each of its clients. An organizational culture that places the client at the center of all decisions and Thomas’ personal commitment to instantly fix any customer complaints have played a contributing role in the success of the firm.
This is the type of economic gain that America attains by attracting the best talent, Thomas says. And yet he knows how difficult bringing and retaining that talent can be. His path toward citizenship was sluggish. It took Thomas about six years to receive his green card and nearly a dozen before he was able to become a citizen. He supports immigration policies that would eliminate hurdles for newcomers, offer security to immigrant families, and make it easier to attract talented minds to the country. To him, immigrant innovation is what makes America great. “History is such a beautiful guide of what happens when you come together instead of stay apart,” he says. “For countries to function, you need the rules and you need a structure. But as a country, we are blessed by being able to attract amazing people. We have to preserve the DNA of the United States by encouraging that.”