Can we trust these data? The scholars upon whom Murray relies have their personal and professional biases, but, ultimately, their need to create coherent narratives explaining who influenced whom means that their books aren’t primarily based on their own opinions but rather on those of their subjects. For example, the best single confirmation of Beethoven’s greatness might be Brahms’s explanation of why he spent decades fussing before finally unveiling his First Symphony: “You have no idea how it feels for someone like me to hear behind him the tramp of a giant like Beethoven.”
In Paul Johnson’s just-published and immensely readable book Art: A New History, you can see how even this most opinionated of historians must adapt himself to the judgments of artists. Much of the book’s entertainment value stems from Johnson’s heresies, such as his grumpy comment on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: “No one ever wished the ceiling larger.” Still, Johnson can’t really break free from conventional art history because he can’t avoid writing about those whom subsequent artists emulated.
For example, Johnson finds Cézanne (who ranks 10th in Murray’s table of 479 significant artists) painfully incompetent at the basics of his craft. Yet, Johnson has to grit his teeth and write about Cézanne at length because he “was in some ways the most influential painter of the late nineteenth century because of his powerful (and to many mysterious) appeal to other painters …”
P.S. A commenter kindly points to two papers that provide data on this subject. One by Ola Bengtsson and David H. Hsu looks at 1780 pairs of tech start-up founders and venture capitalists over about a decade centering around about 1998-2007. These are start-ups that at least got VC funding. About 48% of the start-ups are in California and 18% in Massachusetts.
Among founders, a surname analysis shows 3% Chinese and 7% Indian. There may be some miscellaneous Asians that they didn't break out. (Among venture capitalists, they find 4% Chinese and 4% Indian.)
Another analysis came up with 87% of founders white, 12% Asian, 1% black. These are both national surveys. The percent Asian in California is higher according to the second study: 18%.