May 8, 2013
Testimony for Senate Committee on Commerce on Immigration Reform
Jeffrey J. BussgangGeneral Partner, Flybridge CapitalSenior Lecturer, Harvard Business School
Thank you, Chairman Rockefeller, ranking member Thune and other members of the committee for theopportunity to testify here today. I want to especially thank the senators who have worked on thisimportant issue over the years, including the work that went into predecessor efforts, such as theStartup Visa bill led by Senator Warner, and the current bill being debated, led by Senator Rubio and the
other members of the “Gang of Eight”
. The bipartisan legislation being worked on, which includes theInvest Visa program as well as a path to citizenship, is a strong start.
My name is Jeff Bussgang. I am a former entrepreneur turned venture capitalist and also teachentrepreneurship at Harvard Business School. My firm, Flybridge Capital, has offices in Boston and NewYork City and invests in early-stage, technology start-ups around the country. We have invested in over70 companies in our history and our portfolio companies employ over 3300 people.It is no surprise that I am passionate about the issue of immigration. My father was born in pre-WarPoland and survived the Holocaust as a refugee and soldier. When he arrived in the United States afterthe war, he liked to say he spoke 5 languages, but all with an accent. When he came to America, heattended MIT, earned his PhD at Harvard and then himself became an entrepreneur, creating a smallbusiness that worked closely with the Department of Defense on major satellite communications andmissile defense systems, employing over 100 people.In my own role as an entrepreneur, venture capitalist and business school professor, I have watched ourdysfunctional immigration system turn away the best and brightest from creating jobs and wealth in
America. I won’t
dwell on the aggregate statistics
that 40% of all Fortune 500 companies werefounded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant, that 76% of patents issued to our top 10university systems had an immigrant inventor and that in many of the high technology sectors that Ioperate and invest in, the unemployment rate is effectively below zero due to a lack of qualifiedtechnology workers, choking off further growth and opportunity. But you all already know all this.
Instead, I’d like to share with you a few
specific examples of how our broken immigration system isworking against our national economic interests. By humanizing this issue, I hope to convey why it isthat i
n the global war for talent, America’s immigration policies have become a laughingstock. Except
the stakes are so high
, there’s nothing funny about it.
One of my students at Harvard Business School, T.T. Nguyen Duc, grew up in Vietnam and came toAmerica to attend Stanford University on a full, merit-based scholarship. She worked at a prestigiousmanagement consulting firm before enrolling at Harvard to earn her MBA. T.T. took myentrepreneurship class and was one of my star students. For the last two years, she has been workingon starting an online education company that will dramatically decrease the cost, and increase the