The head of Mark Zuckerberg’s enigmatic political lobby took the stage of TechCrunch’s Disrupt New York conference. “It’s incumbent on us to make the knowledge economy as inclusive as possible,” said FWD.us head Joe Green.
FWD.us joins a crowded landscape of politically aggressive trade associations pressing Silicon Valley’s agenda on Capitol Hill. Since the organization’s launch with a rare op-ed from Zuckerberg, there have been few details about FWD.us’s agenda, though that hasn’t stopped it from gathering an exhaustive list of technology’s most influential executives, including the recent additions of Bill Gates and Sean Parker.
FWD.us’s stated mission is to better prepare America for the knowledge economy, taking up the cause of high-skilled immigration as a first step. ” In a knowledge economy, the most important resources are the talented people we educate and attract to our country,” wrote Zuckerberg. To that end, Green took the stage with Vice President of Engineering at Dropbox, Aditya Agarwal, who shared a heartstring-tugging personal story about the madness of America’s current immigration system.
“We learned something really, really simple: do not start a company in this country if you do not have a green card,” Agarwal said. The sentiment is unfortunate, since immigrants have founded many of Silicon Valley’s most iconic companies, from Google to PayPal.
Immigration reform is priority number one for the new congress, and is currently snaking its way through the bureaucratic process. A draft of comprehensive reforms hit the senate earlier this month, which promises to give the technology industry most of what it wants, including more visas for science graduates and a special visa for startup founders. After congress returns from recess, it’ll be taken up again and according to our sources on the Hill, will likely be ratified sometime in the summer, if it passes at all.
There are still far more questions than answers about this new (potentially powerful) political interest group. Immigration will be their first test, and we’ll be watching. See their presentation below: