Email from Max Levchin: The next great immigrant inventor

Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal, Affirm, Glow, and Slide, sent the below message to White House email lists. Didn't get the message? Sign up here for updates

In 1991, with just a few hundred dollars to our name, my family and I immigrated to the United States from the USSR, and landed in Chicago a couple of days after I turned 16 years old.

Coming from a family of scientists, I was always strongly encouraged to seek out the best education available. Graduating high school in 1993, I went to study Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of America’s best schools in the discipline.

The Internet’s popularity had just begun to explode, opportunities were limitless, and everyone around me was dreaming up startup company ideas. I started no fewer than four companies while finishing up my degree, and every single one of them failed. Undeterred, I drove cross-country to Silicon Valley, and co-founded my fifth company — PayPal.

Recruiting as many college friends as I could to join the venture, the next few years were spent building the foundation of what is now a $45 billion company, employing over nearly 17,000 people.

Because of PayPal’s success, I was afforded the opportunity to support and fuel the start of many other great companies. I was able to co-found Glow and Affirm, and I was the first investor and chairman of Yelp — a company that now employs more than 4,000 people. I’ve served on corporate boards of Yahoo!, Yelp, and Evernote, as well as the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Advisory Board. I’ve had the privilege to invest in over 100 startups, and advise numerous others.

I believe that the most promising entrepreneurs from around the world should have the same opportunity I had — the chance to deliver on their potential, here in America.

That’s why I am thrilled that the Obama Administration has a plan to make it easier for the world’s best and brightest immigrant entrepreneurs to start the next great companies right here, in the United States. And you can have a voice in how the new process will work.

My story isn’t unique — America is a nation of immigrants and has always been a magnet for strivers, innovators, and entrepreneurs from every corner of the globe.

Immigrants co-founded as many as a quarter of the high-tech startups in communities all across this country — and over half of the startups in Silicon Valley. One in every 10 people employed at a privately-owned U.S. company works at an immigrant-owned firm — that's nearly 4 million people. Immigrants or children of immigrants founded more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies.

And the next great companies are being conceived right now, in countless dorm rooms and garages around the world. So many of these entrepreneurs yearn to grow their companies here in America, where the opportunities are still limitless. And when these companies are started and capitalized here, it creates jobs for Americans and grows our economy.

Learn more about how the Obama Administration is taking action today to welcome more immigrant entrepreneurs to the United States — and submit your feedback before this plan is finalized.

Max Levchin
Co-Founder of PayPal, Affirm, Glow, and Slide