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Apart from well-established South African communities in places such as San Diego, or the tight group of professional golfers in Florida, South Africans don't network the way they do in the United Kingdom.Instead, mutual recognition often happens like this: "Hey, that guy running the University of Notre Dame seems to have a Saffer accent.
Building and innovating The poster-child for the 1980s immigration generation is Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors and Space X – the rocket company charged with leading the replacement of the space shuttle.In the same field, Chris Wright, a transplant from Johannesburg, is described as "Hollywood's go-to lawyer" – somehow securing "genius" work visas for everyone from Piers Morgan to Playboy playmate Shera Bechard.The "O-1" work visa is normally reserved for foreigners of "extraordinary ability", including Nobel prize, winners, but Wright has controversially expanded its use to include celebrities.But they've done it as individuals, and – with the notable exception of commercial spaceflight pioneer Elon Musk – almost invisibly.In December, the Silicon Valley Business Journal made a remarkable statement regarding four of their first five winners of the US's high-tech chief executive officer awards, which feature competition from the likes of Google's Larry Page.And another South African, Dr Liam Pedersen, has grabbed what could be the most exotic job in the US.
He leads a Nasa research team to develop the brains of "intelligent" space robots that will explore the solar system in search of extraterrestrial life.
Come to think of it, so does the dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Ja, and what about the guy who was in charge of California's High-Speed Rail Authority?
It said: "Here's something interesting about our executive of the year awards, something that hadn't occurred to us at the time that these four executives were selected – they are all originally from South Africa." In Silicon Valley alone, South African-born high-tech chief executives include Vinny Lingham, founder of Yola and Gyft; Willem van Biljon, co-founder of Nimbula; and Pieter de Villiers, founder and chief executive of Clickatell, the world's largest online text messaging service.
And these weren't even among the award winners.
And to test his "autonomous navigation" systems, Pedersen (42) gets to test the robots in places like Antarctica and alpine lakes in the Andes.