The Silicon Vikings event on Thursday the 21st of February, hosted by K&L Gates at Embarcadero Center, brought many Nordic guests that wanted to get a better understanding of the legislation, taxation, and banking procedures in USA.


Julien Christiaens, Business Development and Relationship Manager Europe at Bank of the West, the co-organizers of the event, had gathered four panelists, Peter Trieu, Tax Director at Rowbotham & Company; Thierry Gabadou, Vice President and International Clientele Manager at Bank of the West; Linda L. Usoz, Partner at K&L Gates, and Christopher Sharpe, at Zephyr Real Estate, to answer questions about law, tax, banking, and real estate.


The panelists and moderator, Christopher Sharpe, Peter Trieu, Julien Christiaens,
Linda L. Usoz and Thierry Gabadou 

Since the laws, and taxation system are different here, from what you are used to in your home country, it is always good to be prepared and plan ahead. That way you can avoid newcomer mistakes, and find the best way to deal with a certain issue related to your move to Silicon Valley.  

For instance you are considered to be a U.S. resident when you have been physically present in the U.S. for 183 days, or if you hold a Green Card. Different taxation rules apply once you are a resident, and it is very important to know about these rules to avoid unnecessary penalties.

As a resident you are obligated to report your worldwide income. You can save a few bucks if you are proactive with your taxes. For example, if you want to sell your home in the Nordic region, do that before you move. As a resident you have to pay tax for that. Some events are free from tax, but you are still obligated to report them. If you for instance inherit, or receive a gift from your parents, it is not a taxable event, however you still need to report it.

It is very important to have a good credit score in the U.S. If you want to purchase a home, a car or take a loan, a good credit score makes it possible. The best way to start building your credit score is to apply for a credit card. This is the tricky part here, if you apply for a credit card you need a credit score, and you can’t build a credit score without a credit card. A global bank, like for example Bank of the West, would be able help to you. A global bank is more convenient for other reasons as well. “You are not only a U.S. resident, you are also a global resident,” says Thierry Gabadou.

You might know right away where you want to live, or maybe you have questions about different neighborhoods. A realtor would be able to assist you with that, and find housing in the areas that best suits your interest. If you plan to stay in the U.S. for more than three to five years it can be a good idea to buy a home.

As a startup founder setting up shop in Silicon Valley, and planning on recruiting a team, it is very important that you learn about the regulations around employment. For instance while conducting an interview there are several questions you normally would ask in the Nordic countries that would be against the law in the U.S. "You can't ask someone how old they are, you can't ask if they have kids. There is a whole list of questions you can't ask," says Linda Usoz.

Thank you to the panelists for sharing their expertise in these important areas and a big thank you to the moderator Julien, the host K&L Gates, and the co-organizer and main sponsor to Silicon Vikings, Bank of the West.

Afterwards, everyone stayed to network, and ask their specific questions to the panelists. I had the chance to speak to Mart Kelder from Skype. He moved to San Francisco a month ago, and said the session was very useful.

If you want to contact the panelists please send an email to and we will send you their contact information.

Nina Olsson

Viking Reporter

If you want to listen to the panelists, watch the video of the event.