“The tech industry is, frankly, being greedy. They are going back and asking for changes to language they helped write and blatantly trying to roll back requirements that give high-skilled American workers a fair shot at getting a job,” said AFL-CIO legislative Representative Andrea Zuniga DiBitetto about new proposals to ease the hiring of high-skilled foreign workers.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg reportedly called Senator Orin Hatch to push more tech-friendly changes to the comprehensive immigration reform bill. Among Hatch’s most contentious suggestions is an end to a 90-day wait period before companies can solicit applicants with a foreign work visa. According to Reuters, under Hatch’s amendment, employers would only have to make a good-faith effort to hire Americans.
While, conceptually, comprehensive immigration reform has strong bi-partisan support, its passage is far from certain. Reuters could not report whether unions would support the bill, should Hatch’s changes go through.
Many unions have been long-time opponents of high-skilled immigration reform. Most recently, the union-backed Economic Policy Institute published (and criticized) a study on why the need for high-skilled immigrants was a myth.
Should the unions lose this latest battle in the Senate, it will demonstrate their decline relative to the tech industry.
Career website Glassdoor has released a rather interesting report regarding what employees think about their companies’ prospects for the next two quarters: across 250,000 firms, only 38 percent are positive. Google topped the list with 86 percent of its workforce believing the company’s business will perform better in the next six months.
Google has arguably had a very promising last couple of quarters, most recently seeing its valuation soar past $300 billion. This week the company held its annual Google I/O conference, featuring a slew of announcements, most of which were well received.
Rounding out the top three on the Glassdoor list are Qualcomm (76 percent of employees believe the business outlook will improve) and Yahoo (75 percent of employees were positive). The trio all had 0 percent of their workers projecting their respective businesses would get worse.
Here’s the full top 10 list:
At The Next Web, we’re particularly interested in tech companies, but in this case the results don’t require much picking and choosing. You’ll notice that the top five companies are all tech firms, not hugely surprising but definitely a noteworthy occurrence.
Other tech giants aren’t doing as well, at least if you ask their employees. Here 10 more results for a few worth noting:
Most of these finding are in line with what you might expect, although you might expect Microsoft and Intel staff to be more optimistic about their respective company’s progress. We’ll be looking to see how these results change in the next report, as some outlooks are bound to be drastically adjusted in the coming year.
Top Image Credit: toprankblog / Flickr
Today in interesting moves comes the news that serial entrepreneur-turned-investor Russell Buckley – who co-founded AdMob (which sold to Google) is joining the UK government to accelerate its policies around startups, mainly funding. Specifically, he’s joining the UK Government’s Venture Capital Unit. The Unit, launched last year, is designed to help UK companies attract funding from abroad and thus help resolve the funding gap which often exists at early and mid-stages. The Unit is headed by veteran entrepreneur Chris Wade and embraces Clean Tech, Life Sciences and Hardware. Here’s Russell’s blog post on the matter:
My New Job
It’s been about two years since I left Google following the AdMob acquisition and as I forecast here at the time (http://mobhappy.com/blog1/2011/03/30/on-a-personal-note/) I’ve been practicing a portfolio career of being a very active angel investor (Ballpark Ventures has about 25 investments), mentoring at Springboard (soon to be TechStars), doing various Speaking gigs and being a Non-Exec Director of a handful of more mature UK businesses.
To sum up this little role, I wrote:
So, trying to draw this together in one cogent theme, I’m planning to spend the next 10 years helping the UK to become a world class part of the tech scene and one which regularly produces mega-successes like the next Twitter, the next Facebook or the next Amazon. There’s plenty of reasons why The Valley has the advantage over us – early stage funding and a huge natural early adopter market, are my personal bugbears. But if we think big and harness the creativity and talent available, I believe it’s a realisable dream.
I’m delighted to say that I’ve been offered the opportunity to help realise this vision on a more macro-scale, by joining the UK Government’s Venture Capital Unit. The remit of the Unit is to help UK companies attract funding from abroad and thus help resolve the funding gap I was writing about above. My focus will be on tech companies, though the Unit as a whole (headed by veteran entrepreneur Chris Wade) embraces Clean Tech, Life Sciences and Hardware.
To be quite frank, it is the only job that anyone could have offered me that I would have accepted at this stage in my career. It fits perfectly with my personal mission, so when I was approached about the role it didn’t need a lot of thinking about and I find the opportunity to make a real difference to the UK tech scene very exciting.
In the first instance, my focus will be on developing a portfolio of the very best UK tech companies to showcase what a fantastic place the UK already is. And in time, my new colleagues and I will use our best efforts to help find overseas investors, to complement the UK investment community, to help these companies flourish. If you run such a company, or know of anyone who should be on this prestigious list, drop me a line here Russell AT mobhappy DOT com and we’ll get the ball rolling.
The writing’s on the wall. Mobile is the future, and it requires different skill than the web. Entrepreneurship is more fetishized than ever, making standard hiring tough. The result is days like today where Yahoo, Twitter, Salesforce, and Box all bought startups, and Facebook and Microsoft were reported to be in talks for major acquisitions. Big is a scary thing to be right now.
The tech giant story goes something like this. You start as a visionary founder with a crazy dream. You recruit your friends to give it a shot. Suddenly there’s a breakthrough or some traction, and everyone wants to work for you. You’re small and nimble. Employees are trusted to make quick decisions, and the whole company can pivot on a dime to pursue a new opportunity.
But to beat competitors to the punch with the muscle to accomplish your dreams, you have to get bigger. Bureaucracy sets in and decisions take longer. You have too much momentum to shift directions. Allocating resources to chase a hunch gets tougher. You’re no longer the startup; you’re the giant. Despite your perks and hefty paychecks, no one wants to work for the giant. They want an adventure. The adventure you already had.
Then some punk kids come out of nowhere with the company you would have founded if you started five years later. You could try to build it now, but that’s too slow and they’re already winning. Or you could try to partner with them or someone else, but that’s messy and unreliable. You end up with a choice: They either eat your lunch or you buy their lunch. They disrupt you, or you acquire them.
So you buy them. Then you either keep their product running and reap the benefits while knowing they’re not a real danger to you anymore like Facebook did with Instagram. Or you shut down their product, fold their team in, and have them keep your core products relevant and evolving, like Box did today buying Adobe Acrobat-killer Crocodoc.
This same story has played out over and over again throughout the lifespan of Silicon Valley. But there are new factors putting even more pressure on the big guys to swallow up the little guys.
On the web, you threw everything at the wall, and anything that stuck even a little got left in the product. With plenty of screen real estate and instant rollouts of changes, you could afford to do too much. But mobile is minimalist. People want one app to nail one use case. It has to work in bite-size sessions. Bloat is painfully apparent.
You need not just mobile designers, or even mobile-first designers. You need mobile-best designers. The advent of the web happened slowly, and several generations of startups were built on it. A star product lead from a few years ago could work magic again. But mobile came on fast. Not necessarily in the advances in technology, but in adoption. Even just a year ago, mobile was thought of as an option. Now some giants like Facebook have more users on mobile than the web. You either “get” mobile, or you’re doomed. If you can’t build it, and you can’t hire it, you’re pretty much forced to buy it. Yahoo didn’t buy GoPollGo to concentrate on polling. It did it because the startup was mobile in its heart.
Blame it on the finance sector’s collapse, the seed funding explosion, Y Combinator, Instagram, and tech blogs like us. Chalk it up to an entitled generation where everyone wants to be their own boss, not a loyal soldier. Or say it’s mobile and the cloud’s fault for making it so easy to get a business to market. But whatever the cause, great tech talent is fragmenting. People are willing to gamble on the chance of having a huge impact on the world and getting rich at the same time. The people you want to hire aren’t applying and interviewing, they’re running their own companies.
Meanwhile for VCs, everyone wants to be the toast of the town by being the seed investor in a hot startup. That means anyone with a good idea, or some combination of an okay idea and a good track record/connections/academic pedigree can raise money and take a swing. And why not? Best-case scenario: You change the world, grow into one of the new power-players of Silicon Valley, and maybe sell or IPO for a boat-load of money. Worst-case scenario: You fail and lose (mostly) someone else’s money. You end up with a fundamental learning experience that will build character, maybe make you a better person, and quiet your professional wanderlust forever.
Plus now, thanks to the old giants’ scrambling to stay young, there’s a mediocre-case scenario: You sell while you’re still small, take a cushy job at a big company, work on something making a difference, and learn skills while you bide your time for your “next adventure.”
You could argue that all these acquisitions and acqui-hires are kneecapping innovation. That they’re preventing potential giants from ever hitting their stride. But few people are fighting for the abstract cause of “Innnovation” with a capital I.
Thanks to disruption insurance through acquisitions, it could be hard to truly kill Yahoo — a company many thought was marked for death years ago. Mark Zuckerberg disrupted Myspace in a blink of the Internet’s eye. But if he keeps buying talented teams and phenonema like Instagram rather than letting them mature into real threats, it could take a lot longer to displace Facebook.
Giants want to keep their dreams alive. Founders want to chase them. Acquisitions make both less likely to wake up to a nightmare.
Excerpt from: As Tech Giants Scramble For Talent, It’s Buy Or Die
Chinese Internet companies Baidu, Tencent and Qihoo 360 are reportedly competing to purchase Sogou, Sohu‘s search business. Sina Tech’s report cites unnamed sources in the investment industry (link via Google Translate) and Sogou CEO Wang Xiaoquan has already taken to his Sina Weibo account to brush off the report as “unreliable,” but it’s worth noting that rumors of two recent acquisitions–PPS by Baidu and Alibaba’s purchase of a stake in Sina Weibo–both turned out to be true.
According to Sina Tech’s sources, Sogou, the third largest search engine in China, is currently stymied by a development bottleneck and can’t grab any more market share away from Baidu and Qihoo 360. Baidu has 67.21 percent market share and Qihoo 360 holds 14.94 percent, compared to Sogou’s 9.15 percent slice, according to data from CNZZ. The company has been considering a sale for the past six months, with Qihoo offering $140 million including stock and cash options, while Baidu is offering an undisclosed but higher amount of cash. Meanwhile, Tencent has entered the fray mainly because it doesn’t want Qihoo 360 to get its hands on Sogou.
The sale has been held up in part because of dissension within Sogou’s top ranks. CEO Wang Xiaochuan is reportedly at the head of the faction that wants to sell to Qihoo 360, but Sohu chairman Charles Zhang prefers Baidu’s offer. Sina Tech sources say, however, that Qihoo 360′s offer looks poised to triumph. If Qihoo 360 does indeed buy Sogou, the deal will boost the combined company’s market share to about 25 percent. Qihoo 360 will also reap the benefits of Sogou’s unique “smart input” method, which currently has 195 million active users.
“If the two merge it will really subvert the current structure of the search market. It’ll become a power struggle between two competitors,” said Sina Tech’s source.
A Baidu spokesman declined comment. Qihoo 360 and Tencent have also been emailed for comment.