The Indian diaspora: A tech 'Mafia'?

One of our TEN13 deal team, Lachlan Duffy, kicks off a two-part series on global technology talent flows in our borderless tech world. In Part 1, Lachlan looks into the Indian executives dominating Silicon Valley and what it means for India's local tech scene.

The flow of talent from emerging markets is a curious one. In today’s interconnected world, the international talent market operates much like the English Premier League; it has no salary cap, no borders and the world’s best talent can go wherever they want. Markets such as the US have the advantage of infrastructure, systems, operations, culture, talent, and capital density and have historically been able to outbid basically anyone else and consistently acquire the world’s best talent.

There’s always been something about the immigrant mindset. There’s something about the agency from moving countries that breeds a desire to truly make something of oneself and one’s family in a new country. The US has had the pick of the world’s highest agency migrants for coming up on the third century in a row. Immigration has fuelled American exceptionalism, with new recruits outgunning local US competition at almost twice the rate.‍

US population that was born abroad

The Indian Diaspora: A ‘Mafia’?

The US has been a major beneficiary of Indian migration for many years now and the US has cashed in. The US has Indian CEOs for 12 of the largest technology companies in the world. The Indian diaspora migrant 'Mafia' with its seemingly endless stream of elite global talent is only set to increase.

Global Technology CEOs from India

The Indian diaspora is being unlocked and in a very competitive global market hungry for talent, India is providing big time. We will be seeing more and more Indian Global Tech and Fortune 500 CEOs.

Closer to home, India recently celebrated their 100th technology 'unicorn' (Billion dollar private company) and is now third on the list of countries with the number of 'unicorns' behind the US and China. A remarkable achievement for any country, and with more and more outlier geniuses gaining access to global talent markets every year, India and its diaspora look set for a roaring 2020s.

In fact, 44% of America’s unicorn founders were founded by people born outside of the US, as shown below. Ironically, when you remove 44% of America’s unicorns founded by people born outside the US and repatriate them, the US’s number of unicorns starts to look a lot more like China’s number of unicorns.

American Unicorns by country of birth

Incredibly, while India has 100 'unicorns', the US itself has 90 Indian unicorn founders, with many more likely ‘US-born’ founders being second-generation Indian immigrants.

India has a far greater ratio of US-unicorn founders to its country's total unicorns than China, which accounts for ~2.5% of US-unicorn founder ranks. In fact, out of the list, India has the worst ratio of unicorns founded at home (100) to US unicorns with a founder from that country (90), except Canada, based on the data above. Put differently, every other country has a higher ratio of its nationals building world-leading companies from their home countries and not from outside.

American Exceptionalism in global technology has been one of the defining features of this century. Lesser known is that almost half of it is underwritten by attracting non-US-born talent, with former Indian talent helping build the world’s best companies on US soil.

Despite many of the Indian diaspora building world-leading companies from outside India, India has still managed to take out the #3 position in Unicorn producers.

But for emerging economies it does pose an interesting question - in today’s international talent market, how can you help your best and brightest nationals to build world-leading companies at home and not abroad?

Stay tuned for Part Two as we investigate how a 150-year-old idea is seeing migration flow back.

In the picture: Shantanu Narayen, CEO, Adobe; Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft; Sundar Pichai, CEO, Alphabet

Never miss an insight

If you're not an existing Livewire subscriber you can sign up to get free access to investment ideas and strategies from Australia's leading investors.

And you can follow my profile to stay up to date with other wires as they're published – don't forget to give them a “like”.

TEN13 Management Pty Ltd (TEN13 Management) is a corporate authorised representative of Boutique Capital Pty Ltd (BCPL) AFSL 508011, CAR Number 1298306. TEN13 Nominee Pty Ltd (TEN13 Nominee) is a corporate authorised representative of BCPL, CAR Number 1298307. Together, TEN13 Management and TEN13 Nominee are referred to as we, us, or our in this document. To the extent to which this document contains advice it is general advice only and has been prepared by us for individuals identified as wholesale investors for the purposes of providing a financial product or financial service, under Section 761G or Section 761GA of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). The information herein is presented in summary form and is therefore subject to qualification and further explanation. The information in this document is not intended to be relied upon as advice to investors or potential investors and has been prepared without taking into account personal investment objectives, financial circumstances or particular needs. Recipients of this document are advised to consult their own professional advisers about legal, tax, financial or other matters relevant to the suitability of this information. The investment summarised in this document is subject to known and unknown risks, some of which are beyond our control and our directors, employees, advisers or agents. We do not guarantee any particular rate of return or the performance, nor do we and our directors personally guarantee the repayment of capital or any particular tax treatment. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. The materials contained herein represent a general summary of our current portfolio construction approach. We are not constrained with respect to any investment decision making methodologies and may vary from them materially at its sole discretion and without prior notice to investors. Depending on market conditions and trends, we may pursue other objectives or strategies considered appropriate and in the best interest of portfolio performance. There are risks involved in investing in our strategy. All investments carry some level of risk, and there is typically a direct relationship between risk and return. We describe what steps we take to mitigate risk (where possible) in the investment documentation, which must be read prior to investing. It is important to note that despite taking such steps, we cannot mitigate risk completely. This document was prepared as a private communication to clients, is confidential and is not intended for public circulation or publication or for the use of any third party, without our approval. Whilst this report is based on information from sources which we consider reliable, its accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. Data is not necessarily audited or independently verified. Any opinions reflect our judgment at this date and are subject to change. We have no obligation to provide revised assessments in the event of changed circumstances. To the extent permitted by law, BCPL, we and their directors and employees do not accept any liability for the results of any actions taken or not taken on the basis of information in this report, or for any negligent misstatements, errors or omissions. TEN13 Disclaimer TEN13 Nominee may, from time to time hold securities referred to in the information herein and may trade in these securities as a nominee (either as principal or as agent). We may receive commissions, fees or other forms of remuneration from transactions involving investments referred to in the materials. By accepting the materials contained herein, you agree to indemnify TEN13 Management, TEN13 Nominee, Transition Level Investments Pty Ltd ACN 154 457 155, TEN13 Holding Pty Ltd ACN 634 042 783, and Birkdale Holdings (Qld) Pty Ltd ACN 120 407 981 ATF the Baxter Family Trust and any of their respective directors, officers, employees, consultants, advisors or agents (TEN13 Parties) against any claim, liability, action, damage, loss, cost or expense sustained by any of them arising from or as a result of any breach by you of the confidentiality obligation under this disclaimer. The TEN13 Parties: disclaim and exclude all liability for all losses, claims, damages, costs and expenses of any nature arising out of or in connection with the materials contained herein (or any accompanying or subsequent information); and do not have any obligation to advise any person if they become aware of any inaccuracy in, or omission from, the materials contained herein (or any accompanying or subsequent information).

1 topic

Stew Glynn
General Partner

Stew Glynn is the Managing Partner & Co-Founder of TEN13. A co-investment platform that provides sophisticated investors access to exciting private early-stage technology deals.

I would like to

Only to be used for sending genuine email enquiries to the Contributor. Livewire Markets Pty Ltd reserves its right to take any legal or other appropriate action in relation to misuse of this service.

Personal Information Collection Statement
Your personal information will be passed to the Contributor and/or its authorised service provider to assist the Contributor to contact you about your investment enquiry. They are required not to use your information for any other purpose. Our privacy policy explains how we store personal information and how you may access, correct or complain about the handling of personal information.


Please sign in to comment on this wire.