Quick Bites | The benefit of attracting smart migrants

The infographic below shows which countries that have the most immigrant founders of US billion start-ups are from. It’s a fascinating insight into the economic power contributed by some migrants, including the so-called “best and brightest,” who have flocked to the US for centuries lured by economic opportunities. 

Source: Visual Capitalist


The majority of US unicorns—private startups worth more than USD1 billion—have at least one immigrant founder, according to the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP). These rankings are based on unicorn valuations as of May 2022. As valuations regularly fluctuate, some companies may have gained or lost unicorn status since that time. The 382 founders accounted for in the report have combined to start 319 of 582 US-based unicorns, some 55%.

While some of the companies and founders are well known, like SpaceX from South Africa’s Elon Musk, hundreds of lesser-known unicorns have been founded from the top talent of just a handful of countries.

Far in the lead is India with 66 startup founders and Israel with 54 startup founders (Israel being remarkable considering its relatively tiny population). Together, they account for 31% of all unicorn founders listed. More than half of the immigrant unicorn founders came from just 6 countries: India, Israel, the UK, Canada, China, and France.

Though some of these founders came to the US as successful business leaders, the report noted that many immigrated as children or international students.

In addition, there are another 51 founders (not included in the above statistics) that were not immigrants themselves but are first-generation Americans born to immigrant parents. Data from the report also shows that 80% of unicorns have an immigrant in some key role, whether it’s as a founder, a top-level executive, or some other crucial position. Today, one of the biggest companies in the US is Nvidia, which recently broached a trillion dollar market cap and whose founder is from Taiwan.



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