I was born in Bombay, but I moved to the U.S. for college, to study computer science. Once I was done with that, I wanted to found a company, but I couldn’t. I was on a student visa, so it wasn’t legally possible. I moved to Singapore in 2006, because it seemed like a more accepting place, and I built a company there: Socialwok, an enterprise collaboration platform, similar to Slack. We won a TechCrunch competition in 2009, which led to a lot of interest from companies in Silicon Valley. We didn’t get any huge acquisition offers, but we caught the eye of someone at LinkedIn. A few months later, I moved to Silicon Valley to work for them.
I stayed at LinkedIn for six years, and I was happy there. But I didn’t feel free in my new home. My H1B work visa was restrictive, so I wasn’t able to start a new company of my own. Plus, the green card process in the U.S. is based on the country of your birth, and since I was born in India it might have taken up to 20 years for me to get permanent residence. During Obama’s time in office, I hoped that things would change, but that never happened. And then Donald Trump’s rhetoric during the 2016 election made things seem even more hopeless.
I could have continued working in the valley, but having more freedom during the best years of my life mattered more to me than being in the States. My wife and I started looking for a place where we’d have more freedom to chase all our crazy dreams.
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