The Iranian nuclear deal announced last week may have unexpected benefits for America’s talent-hungry technology sector.
Iran has a robust and young population: around two-thirds of Iranians are under the age of 30. Millions of young Iranians are desperately underemployed, and have spent years honing the necessary skills to bypass Iran’s strict controls on the Internet. (RELATED: World’s Most Infamous Hookup App Catches On In Islamist Iran)
As a result, the average Iranian twentysomething is far likelier to know his way around proxy servers and other digital security tools than his American peers. This ease and know-how could be a boon to innovative companies seeking a strategic technological advantage.
With the new nuclear deal, The Wall Street Journal reports, U.S. tech firms may finally have a chance to recruit Iran’s cleverest digital natives. A series of U.S. laws passed since Iran’s 1979 revolution have discouraged American companies from hiring Iranian citizens at significant volume. The deal has the potential to roll back some of those restrictions. (RELATED: The 5 Biggest Winners Of Obama’s Big Nuke Deal — Aside From Iran)
Google and other Silicon Valley giants are already attracting graduates of top universities in Iran, including Sharif University and the University of Tehran. And young Iranians are just as eager to join major American companies. As one investor told the Journal, today’s youth “all want to be Steve Jobs,” not the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Current laws require the State Department to screen every single U.S. job candidate with Iranian citizenship, and determine whether they pose a threat to American security. But the nuke deal, and a gradually improving relationship between the West and Iran, could make that process easier over time — bringing the same hope to Iranian techies and European energy investors.
Americans of Iranian descent, many of whom migrated in the tumult of the revolution, have played a key role in the U.S. business landscape for years. It doesn’t hurt that California is home both to America’s tech industry and its biggest Iranian expatriate community. Prominent Iranian-Americans in science and technology today include Pierre Omidyar, who founded eBay.com, and NASA’s famous “mohawk guy” Bobak Ferdowsi.
Just like migrants from other highly educated countries like China, Russia and India, if they manage to win America’s trust, Iranian tech workers have the potential to bring U.S. industry success for decades to come.
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