Dear Sophie: How can I improve our startup’s international recruiting?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.

Dear Sophie:

We’ve been having a tough time filling vacant engineering and other positions at our company and are planning to make a more concerted effort to recruit internationally.

Do you have suggestions for attracting workers from abroad?

— Proactive in Pacifica

Dear Proactive,

Yes, I have many suggestions on what you can do to support international talent interested in moving to the United States. Immigration is a great benefit for attracting the best and the brightest team members from around the globe. And providing immigration security through visa practices and green card programs supports retaining these valued individuals. Consider sponsoring international students and other qualified candidates in the upcoming H-1B lottery in March.

As it now stands, the H-1B lottery will be random this year, not pay-to-play. We anticipate the electronic lottery process will follow these dates:

  • March 9 at 9 a.m. PST: H-1B registration process opens.
  • March 25 at 9 a.m. PDT: H-1B registration process closes.
  • March 31: You’ll know if your H-1B beneficiaries were selected electronically in this initial round of the lottery.
  • April 1: First date to file H-1Bs selected in the lottery to request a 10/1/2021 or later start date.
  • June 30: Last anticipated day to complete filing of selected H-1B petitions in this initial round of the lottery.
  • After June 30: Possibility of a second lottery for registrations submitted in March.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

Through the H-1B and other proactive immigration-support measures you can take, your international team members will enjoy a greater sense of immigration security. This allows them to focus on their job rather than worrying about their immigration status. Here are my recommendations for drawing international talent from abroad and fostering productivity and loyalty.

Establish your company’s immigration policy

I recommend working with an experienced immigration attorney who can help your company develop an immigration policy based on your company’s core values, recruiting and immigration budget, and growth plan. Think of immigration as a benefit and a way to differentiate your company from others when recruiting top talent. Providing immigration benefits and immigration security goes a long way toward building team member loyalty and longevity.

For some companies, the best policy may be to have no policy, but it’s important to be deliberate about it and how that will affect your ability to make decisions and budget. For other companies, they implement a limited immigration policy to, for example, hire 40 engineers as soon as possible. Even with a decentralized workforce, a new recruit may be happy to move from Ukraine to Idaho even if your company is not based there.

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Elon Musk inspired a black market for invites to audio app Clubhouse

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A black market for Clubhouse invitations, which are free, has emerged with people posting they’ll sell invites via Twitter, eBay and Craigslist for $15, $50, even $100.
The much-hyped app produces live-streamed, audio-only “rooms” where the app’s users can listen to real time conversations. There’s no transcriptions or recordings available after they end, meaning you’re stuck reading the reactions on Twitter if you missed it. 
Musk — who interviewed Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev on Clubhouse on Sunday — is far from the only celebrity to join. The app has previously hosted conversations with figures like Oprah Winfrey and Jared Leto, as well as many Silicon Valley tycoons.
Despite being less than a year old, the company says it has at least 2 million users and it was last valued by its venture investors at $1.4 billion. 
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The app is still in beta, so it’s not open to the general public just yet but everyone who joins gets two invitations they can extend to others. Currently, people can only join by signing up for the waitlist in the app store, or scoring an invitation. 

$50 via Zelle or Cashapp — De’Vaughn Jones (@APPLEJACKS_33) February 1, 2021

Devaughn Jones, a Twitter user selling invitations for $50, said he’s had a few people interested in buying, but thought their offers were too low. He came up with the idea of selling them after seeing others do the same on Twitter.
“If there’s a market for it, why not try my hand?” he said. 
Another user, Daniyal Shehbaz, sold two invitations for $15 each. He said it’s fair for people to pay considering how much work it took him to secure his own invitation.
“It was pretty hard to get my hands on one,” Shehbaz said. “It took around four to five hours of just constant DMing people and asking in comments.” 
It’s worth noting that, once you invite someone onto the app, your name is tied to theirs. On a Clubhouse user’s profile, it says who they were invited by. If they break community guidelines or behave inappropriately, people can see who let them onto the platform. 
There may be a limited time for users to capitalize on their unused invitations.
“We’re working to open up to everyone as fast as we can,” Clubhouse CEO Paul Davison told CNBC. 
Until then, Shehbaz believe access to Clubhouse content is pretty much priceless. 
“The amount of knowledge you can learn from an hour with a brilliant mind is sometimes more then you can learn in a decade,” he said.

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See the pitch deck that landed startup Lacework $525 million in the largest investment round for a cybersecurity company in the last year

Summary List PlacementHow do you convince investors to give a startup $525 million? 
“You have to have a lot of proof points,” Lacework CEO Dan Hubbard told Insider, after his Silicon Valley startup raked in a half-billion-dollar round after previously raising a total of $74.4 million. 
The six-year-old Silicon Valley company addresses the booming area of providing cybersecurity to companies growing and moving their operations to public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure.
Perhaps the most important proof point is the total addressable market (TAM) that Lacework is tackling – a figure that gauges revenue opportunity – is climbing 20% year over year and reaching $13 billion in 2024. Analysts back that up.
Analyst Daniel Ives, managing director of equity research at Wall Street analyst firm Wedbush Securities, told Insider on Friday that “there’s $200 billion up for grabs in the next five years in cloud security.”
“We have the right product in the right market at the right time,” Hubbard told Insider last week. “The problem has come to us.” 
The company says it has seen revenue triple each of the past two years as more businesses build and run applications on the major cloud platforms. The company did not disclose revenue or specific valuation, but says the latter is above $1 billion. 
PitchBook shows the funding round was the largest in the cybersecurity industry for the past year, and the 22nd largest in all US industries over that span. 
It could have been even larger, Hubbard said. “There was an incredible amount of interest. There are going to be some people who feel left out.” 
Mike Speiser, managing director at Sutter Hill Ventures, compared the startup to his firm’s runaway success investment Snowflake, which has rocketed to a market cap of some $76 billion after its September IPO. 
Here’s the pitch deck Lacework used to land the mammoth funding round. Some slides with customer and competitive data have been removed by the company to protect proprietary information.


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