Tag Archives: Engineers

Russian Engineers Are Fleeing the Country

Russia’s best tech talent is fleeing the country. Pushed out by a draft for the war in Ukraine, nearly a quarter of the nation’s best developers have left, according to a report in The New Scientist:

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Hundreds of Russia’s top software developers appear to have left the country during its military invasion of Ukraine. The exodus of tech talent started even before Russian president Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilisation in September, spurring an estimated 200,000 men to flee amid the prospect of being drafted to join the war effort, and it could spell trouble for Russia’s future.

Almost 23 per cent of Russian developers who made the most contributions to coding projects on the software development platform GitHub changed their location information or deleted their profiles between February 2021 and June 2022. That figure is nearly four times as high as that of developers from neighbouring countries who aren’t directly involved in the conflict.

These engineers are the key to dominating the industries of tomorrow. Without them, Russia will struggle to compete.

“Their permanent departure from the Russian labour pool or from the Russian economy can have detrimental effects,” says Samuel Bendett at the Center for New American Security, a national security think tank in Washington DC. “There aren’t that many IT workers in Russia to begin with.”

Tech workers who remain in Russia face an uncertain future, as they might be drafted to replenish the Russian military’s ranks.

This research agrees with what I’m seeing every day in the technology industry.

Just last night, a young VC from Russia told me most of his friends have already left the country. One abandoned a job and two apartments to start over from scratch abroad.

They don’t want to be killed or have to kill someone else. And with Putin rounding up young men to fight, even a visit home is out of the question.

These highly skilled workers have more options than anyone else. So it’s no surprise that they’re the first ones off a sinking ship.

The biggest beneficiaries so far seem to be nearby countries. Georgia, Armenia, and Turkey have attracted large numbers of talented young Russians since the invasion of Ukraine.

The United States should stop at nothing to attract these talented young men.

We have nowhere near the number of engineers our massive technology industry needs. Anyone who’s tried to recruit developers knows how hard it is.

These young Russians are top technical talent there for the taking. And the US can offer pay far beyond any company in Turkey or Georgia.

Attracting Russia’s best and brightest is also the ultimate PR coup. Look Mr. Putin, your most talented young people are leaving you and coming to us!

The White House is welcoming Russian asylum seekers. We should double down on this strategy, with a particular emphasis on finding top engineers.

There will be nothing sweeter than using Putin’s own people to beat him.

What do you think of Russia’s brain drain? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Photo: “Russia trip, Apr 2008 – 57” by Ed Yourdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.