Om Malik is good people. He is also as of today, after a cornucopia of visas and a decade as a Green Card holder, an American citizen.
For those of you not familiar with Om Malik, he happens to be one of the forefathers of professional tech news blogging, founding GigaOm in 2006 when he realized he was seeing more engagement on his personal website than at his then-employer Business 2.0.
Like many immigrants, his journey is inspiring: After graduating with a chemistry degree from St. Stephens College in New Delhi, Malik got his start in the news business as a typesetter in India, and worked his way up to a reporter position at India Abroad – based out of New York.
While he’s come to be known as a writer of in-depth, sharp technology analysis, Malik is the first blogger to have covered the launch of Twitter, and the first to have broken the news of TechCrunch’s acquisition by Aol. And more.
As weird as it sounds, a common dictum around TechCrunch is, “Write every post thinking that Om is your audience.”
Our aspirational audience was naturalized this morning, taking his Oath of Allegiance with a thousand other people at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, California. The group was “a rainbow of colors,” according to Malik, and, in a divergence from current Silicon Valley immigration rhetoric, not all engineers. “We all looked so different from each other,” he told me over the phone. “All a representation of what an immigrant wants and dreams of.”
When asked why it took him a relatively long time to apply for citizenship, instead of just renewing his Green Card, he replied, “I just knew it was time.”
Malik, as he outlines in this post, takes a more holistic and nuanced approach to immigration reform. He believes that a combination of education and revamped immigration laws will have the most impact on the 11 million plus undocumented workers who reside outside Silicon Valley. “Everybody has a different interpretation of immigration problems and it’s a highly personal experience,” he told me, “If anyone tells you there is a uniform solution to it, there isn’t. As far as I’m concerned, it worked for me. And I don’t know how to fix the problem.”
When asked if he personally had experienced immigration challenges, he replied, “I chose not to remember any of that.” And further, “It was all worth it. You have no idea how happy I am.”
Did he have any advice for immigrants just starting on their path to American citizenship? “Just do the right thing day in and day out, that is the only way that you can feel like you deserve to live here.” Malik underscores the fact that it’s taken him two decades to figure it out, “There’s only one way to succeed: Show up, work hard, and do everything right. Regardless of who you might be or what kind of job you may have.”