Silicon Valley, French-Style

As Jean Gabriel stirs sauce in the kitchen of his San Francisco restaurant, he seems to fit the stereotype precisely: the French immigrant who brings the finer things in life to America. But a new wave of French immigrants are cooking up something different, and the main ingredient is the silicon chip. CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone reports for Eye On America.

Old music and new software is what brought French composer Georges Jaroslaw to Silicon Valley. He wrote a computer program that brings CD-quality sound to old recordings.

"We have a saying in France. We say we have good ideas but we can't realize them," Jaroslaw says.

To build a business selling his creation, he had to come to Silicon Valley, joining some 40,000 French immigrants in America's high-tech heartland. They're among thousands of others from around the world who have come to work in Silicon Valley.

While some worry that the wave of immigrants is taking jobs from people here, computer companies argue there are not enough trained Americans to fill all the jobs created in this booming industry. And the budget bill that just passed will allow the number of foreign computer engineers working in the U.S. to almost double.

Some foreign workers, such as Olivier Zitoun, create more jobs.

A native of France, Zitoun came the United States and hired ten people -- most of them Americans -- to market a new high-tech device.

"It's like a PC in a box that will connect you over the Internet," Zitoun explains.

Zitoun's creation will let anyone make long distance phone calls for free - and, he says, it's "perfectly legal."

The little box switches calls from regular phone lines to the Internet.

Zitoun gave up his flat in Paris for an apartment on San Francisco's Telegraph Hill. For success in the high-tech industry, he says, there was no choice.

"You have to be here if you want to be big quickly," Zitoun says.

The computer industry says recruiting talent from abroad has kept America dominant in the high tech business. However, the immigrants admit to feeling some culture shock, at first -- "and then you're fine," Jaroslaw says. "And I am fine now."

As for Zitoun, he says he is living the American dream.

Both men are far from alone. In the valley that's become an international crossroads, the French get together regularly to network. And how else? Over good food and wine.

Reported by John Blackstone for CBS News 'Eye On America.'

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