WASHINGTON (TIP): A comment by Donald Trump’s top aide that seemed resentful of the number of Asian bosses in Silicon Valley has created a new controversy in the US. And the Indian tech space has some advice to offer. “As they say in America, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,'” Saurabh Srivastava, co-founder of the India Angels Network, a large investor in start-ups. “A third Silicon Valley start-ups are cofounded by someone of Indian origin… it is not surprising that many of the leading American Companies that operate and compete globally have CEOs who are immigrants but the best in class in the world.”
Steve Bannon, who has been appointed Chief Strategist by US President-Elect Donald Trump, seemed critical months ago of the prominence of Asians in Silicon Valley. The interview with Mr. Bannon has resurfaced in the US media this week.
Mr. Bannon, 62, interviewed Mr. Trump last year on radio.
Mr. Trump noted that students attending top universities in the US were heading home after their education.
“We’ve gotta be able to keep great people in the country. We’ve gotta create, you know, job creators,” Mr. Trump said in the interview. He added that “we have to keep our talented people in this country.”
Mr. Bannon responded that “when two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think…”, and then went on to say, “a country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.”
“He seemed to hint at the idea of a white nationalist identity with the phrase ‘civic society’,” said the US tech site The Verge.
A study in May last year showed that white men were 149 percent more likely to be CEOs than Asian men, and that the impact of race is 3.7 times more significant than gender as a negative factor in companies. According to the survey, one-third employees in Silicon Valley are Asian; Asians are under one-fifth of management; and only 14 percent are CEOs.
Despite this, some Indians have risen to positions of great importance in the Valley. According to some estimates, Indians make up 15 percent of all Silicon Valley CEOs, and two of these are leading two of the biggest, most influential, and richest companies in the world today – Microsoft, and Google. In 2014, Microsoft appointed Hyderabad-born Satya Nadella as CEO, after he’d been at the company for 22 years.
Last year, when Google reorganized as Alphabet, Sundar Pichai was named CEO of the new Google entity. Pichai, who hails from Tamil Nadu, has been at Google since 2004, and before becoming the CEO, he was SVP of Google Android, Chrome and Apps.