Up-and-coming tech titans are shelling out massive salaries to retain the best immigrants in the world. Netflix is paying an average of $239K per year, and Airbnb is dolling out $163K, up from $134K and $106K in 2012, respectively.
The public data was recently compiled into a searchable tool, Visa Explorer, which reveals the salaries paid to high-skilled visa holders (H-1Bs) at many on the top tech companies.
There has long been a myth that greedy tech firms have lobbied Congress for more immigrant visas so they can replace American software engineers with cheap foreign labor. The evidence suggests otherwise.
Salary database company, Glassdoor, pulled data for Breitbart News on senior software engineering salaries at Netflix, Airbnb, and Google. While they are difficult to compare, since there are many job titles for the category of senior engineer, I took the median salaries of every job title that indicated a senior software engineering role in the U.S. Visa database and compared it to Glassdoors small sample of Netflix salaries. They are virtually identitical and certainly within the margin of error ($225K vs. $237K at Netflix).
At least at Netflix, immigrants are most prized for unusual skill sets, such as acquisition of movie content (which pays $300K and up).
A recent analysis published in the National Bureau of Economic Research backs up the idea that foreign workers and native workers compliment each other. An immigrant like Google c0-Founder Sergey Brin has ended hired a lot of Americans.
Indeed, many of the highest paid immigrant jobs at tech firms are going to entrepreneurial positions that create revenue for more standard job openings.
Interestingly, the biggest players in the Valley are showing no gains in immigrant salaries. Average immigrant salaries at Google fell slightly from $127K in 2012 to $124K in 2015, according to the U.S. Visa Explorer, while median salaries for software engineers have flatlined at $130K since 2012, according to Glassdoor. That suggests that Google has appeal to immigrants beyond the salary, and tier-2 tech giants must pony up in order to compete.
Critics of high-skilled visas often argue that the U.S. graduates more than enough students with science, technology, math, and engineering (STEM) to fill employment vacancies around the country. This is, in fact, true: America produces far more STEM degree holders than their are job openings.
But, being the best in the world means hiring the best in the world. It is a statistical fact that there will be talented people born in other countries. To be best in the world, Silicon Valley needs to swoop them up before they join the competition.
As such, there will always be a tech-talent shortage until literally every single top-tier technologist works in Silicon Valley. Evidently, Netflix and Airbnb are willing to pay a lot of money to get as close as possible to hiring every talented person they can find.