Ashok asks, "My friend in Silicon Valley is the CEO of a tech startup and he has indicated that my skills are so badly needed by him. Since the company is still in early stages and they have venture capital just enough to pay for rent and equipment, he can only offer me stocks in the company if they go to next stage of funding. Can they sponsor me for H1?"
Absolutely not. In order to file a H1B petition for you, the firm needs to present financial statements to prove that they are a viable business and will be able to pay you a fair wage for the duration of your stay. Clearly, this firm is incapable of doing that. The US Government cannot allow you to enter the country under these circumstances because without a proper pay package you might become a liability on US taxpayers.