Reddit cofounder: The next Google is one visa away from leaving U.S.

Antiquated visa policies could be the downfall of the U.S. tech boom. That’s the warning that Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian is sounding.

 

“Although America leads the world right now, we’ve led the world in plenty of other industries before and seen that evaporate,” said Ohanian, who recently rejoined Reddit as its executive chairman.

Ohanian has been actively crusading for immigration reform for years. Most recently, he’s been advocating on behalf of Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley accelerator that backed Reddit. (He joined as a partner this summer.)

Foreign talent is integral to the tech industry. 44% of Silicon Valley startup founders are foreign-born, according to Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Stanford Law School. Ohanian says YC mirrors this stat: Roughly 40% of last summer’s cohort were foreign-born.

High-skilled visa reform gets bundled into issues of broader immigration reform, but Ohanian and other advocates say it’s a separate issue and should be treated as such. (“It’s become a really toxic word to even talk about immigration,” Ohanian said.)

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