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Silicon Valley: No dogs or thick accents allowed?

Paul Graham, the angel investor who created the high profile Silicon Valley tech accelerator Y Combinator, sparked an angry brushfire on the Internet Tuesday after comments he made on the undesirability of "foreign accents" for startup CEOs were published in Inc. magazine.

“One quality that’s a really bad indication is a CEO with a strong foreign accent. I’m not sure why. It could be that there are a bunch of subtle things entrepreneurs have to communicate and can’t if you have a strong accent. Or, it could be that anyone with half a brain would realize you’re going to be more successful if you speak idiomatic English, so they must just be clueless if they haven’t gotten rid of their strong accent. I just know it’s a strong pattern we’ve seen.”

As the Twitter backlash accelerated, Graham modulated his comments to emphasize that he was talking about incomprehensibility rather than just foreignness: "And I am talking about failure to communicate here. I don't mean strong accents in the sense that it's clear that someone comes from another country. I'm talking about accents so strong that you have to interrupt the conversation to ask what they just said."

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