Meet FWD.us, Silicon Valley's newest lobbying group

Meet FWD.us, Silicon Valley's newest lobbying group

Summary: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo's Marissa Mayer and LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman are among those pushing for comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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The global business community has long complained that the complex and contradictory immigration policies of the United States have harmed economic progress in the country.

Perhaps sensing political opportunity, a few bright lights in the technology industry are publicly pushing for reform.

Meet FWD.us, pronounced "Forward U.S.," a new advocacy group comprised of "leading innovators, job creators, business owners and founders from the tech community." (Translation: we are the economy.)

The group, which officially launched this week, intends to "promote policies that will lead to a more advanced workforce and stronger knowledge economy in the U.S."

Prominent supporters include Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Accel Partners' Jim Breyer, Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr, Benchmark Capital partner Matt Cohler, SV Angel advisor Ron Conway, The Social+Capital Partnership's Chamath Palihapitiya, and three Dropbox employees: CEO Drew Houston, engineering VP Aditya Agarwal and operations VP Ruchi Sanghvi.

It's also backed by a number of other Valley luminaries: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Google's Eric Schmidt, Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham, Groupon co-founder Andrew Mason, PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, Path CEO Dave Morin, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, and Tesla emperor Elon Musk. (There are more.)

The lobby will have offices in Silicon Valley and Washington D.C. and is led by NationBuilder co-founder Joe Green.

Though the group is only focusing on a single issue at the moment, it has pretty specific demands for it:

  • Improved border security
  • A streamlined process for admitting foreign workers
  • An increase in the number of H1-B visas to attract guest workers
  • The development of an employment verification system
  • A pathway to citizenship for foreign nationals already in the U.S.
  • Legal reform of some kind around the issue.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Zuckerberg shed some light on his motivation:

In a knowledge economy, the most important resources are the talented people we educate and attract to our country... why do we kick out the more than 40 percent of math and science graduate students who are not U.S. citizens after educating them? Why do we offer so few H-1B visas for talented specialists that the supply runs out within days of becoming available each year, even though we know each of these jobs will create two or three more American jobs in return? Why don’t we let entrepreneurs move here when they have what it takes to start companies that will create even more jobs?

"We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants," he added.

The declaration comes at an opportune time; U.S. president Barack Obama signaled earlier this year that it was a top priority for his administration. Despite enthusiastic support from the business community and the two dominant political parties here, reform has been elusive — the devil is in the details.

A broad consensus may still be achieved. A U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the issue is scheduled for April 17, giving Silicon Valley's new advocacy group its first real opportunity to spring into action. 

Related on ZDNet's sister site SmartPlanet:

Topic: Tech Industry

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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5 comments
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  • Opinions are like A-holes.

    Money buys favor in washington and these guys aren't concerned about the future of America they are concerned about themselves. This is just a bunch of tools yelling "look at me i have a lot of money my opinion matters more!" and people in washington saying "yes it does!..sho me da money!"
    ammohunt
  • With execs like these...who needs enemies?!

    They continue to sell out American workers. This is *all* about acquiring cheaper labor. There are *plenty* of talented minds among the American citizenry. I know several people who have switched fields because employers here don't want to pay to keep employees' skills up, preferring instead to just continually rotate out "contingent staff" -- translated, those are "consultants" who, although sold as having skill XYZ, almost never turn out to know it better than the natives. Usually they are simply very good at tossing the latest buzz words and technology acronyms around. And their consultancy reps do a very good job of selling them. They end up getting placed, and get the experience on our dime. And then when the next big thing comes along, they rotate out to be placed in it somewhere else that doesn't know that they don't know it...and someone else is rotated in here who supposedly knows that.

    Let these execs instead start investing in America and American workers!!! This is a NOTICE: all of you execs who are involved in this sellout of American workers -- I (we) will be boycotting your products and services!
    Techboy_z
    • Re: They continue to sell out American workers.

      Look at how many of your businesses were started by immigrants, then try saying that again with a straight face.
      ldo17
  • When Facebook becomes useful

    Then I'll listen. They are using a strawman argument: hey, look at all these specialized jobs we need filled, then when you're looking that way, they bring in a load of lower skilled workers to make more billions. I'm no fan of unions, but if they are looking for where they fit in the 21st century, this is it.
    happyharry_z
  • interesting bullet list

    That is an interesting bullet list. If immigration reform were done in that order, I could support it. However, they sold the "border security" story in the '80s and we bought it. They did not deliver. Fool me once ....
    impala_sc