To hear some of America’s lawmakers and pundits talk, it should be nearly impossible for someone with a bright idea to succeed in today’s technology sector because the sector is dominated by a few big companies. But, despite broad criticism that big companies create “kill zones” that choke off potential competition, venture capital investment and tech startup activity are at record highs. That’s because tech companies of all sizes – from Google and Amazon to startups and small businesses – are part of an interconnected ecosystem of booming economic growth, job creation, and innovation.
Over the last three decades, the U.S. tech sector has had one of the highest rates of new business formation and job growth in the world’s biggest and most diversified economy. More than 8,000 new companies attracted over $130 billion in venture capital financing in 2018, the highest sum in a decade. More than 80 percent of startups planned to add new hires to their payrolls this year. Tech-specific economic growth and job creation is driven largely by the research, development, and training provided by large U.S. tech companies.
Something we don’t see in these statistics is this: Large tech companies, like Google, are a training ground for America’s most prolific entrepreneurs, who are creating the companies of tomorrow.
Large tech companies train top talent and create networks and collaborative opportunities that fuel the next generation of companies. Google alumni have started over 2,000 startups in nearly every sector of the U.S. economy, including healthcare, financial services, education, real estate and workplace productivity. Employees that worked on autonomous vehicles and maps at Google have gone on to found the self-driving startups Nuro and Aurora, valued at $2.7 billion and $2.5 billion respectively and autonomous vehicle infrastructure companies like Applied Intuition that has raised over $50 million.
In addition to founding Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, Google alumni are also behind innovative startups like Blueberry Pediatrics, which enables parents to access pediatricians on their smartphones, and Aquabyte, which leverages machine learning to make fish farming more efficient and sustainable. These are just a handful of tech companies that might not even exist without Google’s vast investments in research, development, and training.
In 2015, I left Google and started Xoogler.co, which helps Google alumni, who are called Xooglers, connect and leverage their experience, knowledge and network to launch or finance their innovative ideas into the world to change it for the better. Xoogler.co, which now has over 7,000 members, has helped Xoogler startups connect with over 900 potential investors, and we even have Google’s support to grow these investor relationships. These relationships help Xooglers take theoretical ideas into the marketplace and support businesses as they grow.
Xoogler.co organizes “Demo Days” around the world to help Xoogler startups attract investors and recruit employees. Today’s Demo Day on Capitol Hill will showcase the work of Medcorder, Spate and Wilbur Labs that are living proof that companies like Google often provide the right connections, experience, and resources for a startup to become a success. In addition, Kapwing, which presented at last year’s Xoogler Demo Day in San Francisco has raised over $12 million. Kapwing’s founders, Julia Enthoven and Eric Lu were Associate Product Managers on Google’s Image Search and with that experience are now building a collaborative platform for creating images, videos and GIFs.
From my vantage point, I see that the tech startup economy is thriving, in large part, due to companies like Google. Xooglers and their startups are supporting continued growth and innovation in the technology sector, and helping to maintain America’s competitive edge in global markets.
To allow groups like ours and others to succeed, I would urge regulators not to break the virtuous circle of innovation, investment, mergers and acquisitions that exists between startups and Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. These different parts work together to drive economic growth while also creating the next wave of American jobs.
While the call to break up these companies make for sound bites, they don’t make for sound economic policy. Without Google’s size, the founders of tomorrow’s startups won’t have the chance to learn, grow, develop, start and launch tomorrow’s next big idea or company.
Christopher Fong is the founder of Xoogler.co, assisted hundreds of ex-Google startup founders and invested in over 25 early stage startups over the past three years.
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