H-1B Visa Suspension Strikes at ‘Heart of What We Do,’ Says LightSpeed’s Janmohamed

published on July 17, 2020

You are an immigrant yourself and i know you have some strong feelings about this how do you think that this will impact the tech economy yeah first off emily thank you for having me here it's such a pleasure um i'll start by saying

That this is actually deeply personal to me i am actually an immigrant myself i came to the united states 20 years ago from canada my family is is also immigrants they they moved to canada

From east africa and and before that my ancestors moved to east africa from india so immigration has been a a part of our lifeline and fabric but uh 20 years here in the united states i've

Been on almost every single visa that you can imagine been an engineer been a product manager and now an investor and on a personal note my wife and i actually became us citizens a couple of weeks ago so

It's it's it's very troubling to see what happened to the 400 000 people who were immediately affected and then perhaps the millions of people who will be affected later on

I should note that lightspeed venture partners which is a global firm with with offices around the world in india and israel in uh in china and also here in silicon valley

A lot of us are also immigrants either children of immigrants or immigrants ourselves hailing from places around the world like india and china united kingdom australia et cetera so for us this is this this

Strikes at the heart of what we do and lightspeed has over the years over the last two decades we've we've got a strong track record of having backed many immigrants who came to the us uh

Either as um as part of their studies or either searching for a new job worked at companies like oracle like microsoft like cisco over the years and then started their own company

Uh and those companies across lightspeed's portfolio have created 35 000 jobs or more here in the united states and many more multiples of that around the world and so i i believe that this this policy

Is short-sighted it unfortunately will stifle innovation here in the united states uh it will hurt us on the global stage long term and if you look at some of the track records of company of people who

We have backed over the years people like dhiraj pandey who came here from india as an immigrant worked at oracle started nutanix a five billion dollar enterprise infrastructure company

Max limchin who came to the united states as a child uh started a firm and before that paypal ajit singh who started two unicorns including nutanix and thotspot which between them employ over 7000

People around the world 3 000 people here in the united states or even folks like ariel cohen and elon twigg who came from israel started trip actions uh a corporate travel unicorn and employ hundreds of people here in the united

States it's just it's just devastating to see what what will happen over the long term there's a lot of studies that show that people who come here um have have a higher propensity to start companies and

Those companies eventually end up employing a lot of americans the list is long the list is long indeed um business goes on business goes on and i know that you've been focused on

Advising companies about how uh to deal with so much uncertainty uncertainty ahead you know we were just talking about postmates earlier in the show do they go public at this time or or do

They sell to uber you've got a company's facing some pretty critical you know long-term decisions here how do you think companies should be approaching this

There's there's a lot that's happening in the world right now one is covid second is immigration uh third is a potential uh economic downturn i think uh companies should be thinking

Long term not short term but also really thinking about how they could manage their short-term cash needs and balance that against uh coming out of the

Out of the you know a potential downturn much stronger and for us from our portfolio perspective we've been spending a lot of time with our portfolio founders really thinking about how to

Maximize cash runway how to make sure that they have enough cash for the next at least two years how they're thinking logically about hiring how they're thinking logically about

Growth over the next uh few quarters and then next year and then how they invest in in technology so that when they the when we do come out of some of this uncertainty they're stronger they're

More much more efficient and much better capitalized to take advantage of of the eventual recovery when it does happen meantime talk to us about where you are

Most optimistic about seeing growth obviously lightspeed has both a large enterprise and consumer portfolio i know you're an investor in cameo for example which is taken off in the

Pandemic we just had the ceo on last week but you worry that some of these companies that are benefiting right now when people go back to work eventually when life returns to some sort of new normal

Then trends change again so what do you think what are you putting your bets on for the long term yeah right now we're definitely seeing some areas that are seeing

Very very strong traction as a result of covid but we also believe that in both enterprise and consumer it takes on average about 21 days for users behavior to change and so once behavior has changed it's

Hard to unchange that behavior and so you're right cameo is a is a great benefactor of what's happening with people sitting at home and looking to to just to communicate socially to

Celebrate milestones to celebrate anniversaries weddings birthdays by by sending a a cameo from a celebrity that's definitely one one company that has seen uh seen a

Strong uptick we're also seeing in in other companies um like daily harvest uh you know a strong behavior change around ordering organic smoothies and organic food and

Really just changing behavior on the enterprise side where i spend most of my time actually all of my time we're seeing things that will be structurally different

Over the next three years as a result of covid for one if you think about what satya nadella ceo of microsoft said a few weeks ago three years of digital transformation has actually happened in three months

And what this means in layman's terms is that the shift to the cloud the cis the shift to software as a service has accelerated and you can see some of that in the public markets really really pushing up the prices of

Some sas companies but for us we look at where that actually creates new opportunities and the first derivative of any application change is security and

One area where we're seeing a huge amount of tailwinds as a result of kovids is uh is certainly security one of our companies netskope built the security cloud which is a globally secure network that

Is now trusted by 25 percent of the fortune 500 they're seeing increased demand in the past few months we're also looking into areas like online education my kids are on and out school right now

Which is a video delivered uh um on schooling i mean we're seeing a lot of areas that we can actually invest in and lastly of course remote works where there's a lot of you know we're on zoom right here

Right and i'll note that without uh immigration eric yuan would not have come to the united states joined webex and started zoom i mean that's a great example of a of an

Immigrant who's created a 75 billion company but if you look at how we're changing the way that we collaborate whether it's over video or whether it's over chat like slack and microsoft teams

There's also new opportunities that pop up around those new platforms so we've got a company called move works which is built around chat and ai to resolve employees help desk and service test issues

Can you reset my vpn password can you get me access to zoom hey i'm having problems logging into salesforcecom typically that would be done over the phone or that would be potentially done in person at a genius bar but move works

Which sits on top of slack and microsoft teams is is actually resolving those issues over chat for employees in 30 seconds instead of two days

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