Monthly Archives: January 2017 Founder Dies

Lee O’Denat

Lee O’Denat, founder of the extremely popular website has died in San Diego.

Police were called to a local San Diego business yesterday for a man reported as being unconcious. According to the San Diego County medical examiner’s office O’Denat died at the scene. The medical examiner attributed O’Denat’s death to heart disease. Obesity is believed to be a contributing factor. was founded in 2005 by O’Denat and his wife Brianna Padilla as a distributor of urban mixtapes for aspiring hip hop artist. The website was repeatedly attacked by hackers who eventually took it down. O’Denat was not deterred and later restarted it as a content aggregator or collector of contributed content. focused on hip hop artists trying to come up in the industry. But the site also featured video about personal beefs, street fights, relationship infidelity, pornographic video models other stunts all highly popular in the urban and inner city.

O’Denat himself was beefing with the website he modeled his site on known as was also distributing similiar material. O’Denat admitted this created animosity between the two websites. “Once we went 100 percent video, showing that original hood stuff, we prevailed,” said O’Denat.

SeanP. DiddyCombs premiered his Cîroc vodka promotional video on For three years in a row BET voted World Star Hip Hop as the “top hip hop and urban culture website.” Paramount Studios was reported to have been working a on film about the site with Russell Simmons named as the producer. has been criticized as exposing the worst of black inner city culture.The Baltimore Sun TV blogger David Zurawik  said, “Now in its sixth year, WorldStar is seen by many critics as yet another example of the coarsening of American culture and life, another low on a downward continuum that extends from the Jerry Springerstyle trash-talk shows of the 1980s and 1990s through to the and RadarOnline websites of today.”

Other media critics and observers agree with Zurawik saying “…because of its African-American identity, it has the potential to be used by some viewers to create or fuel stereotypes of urban America as an out-of-control, chaotic space dominated by young, violent, African-American men.”  Editor at large Nsenga Burton associate professor at Goucher College and editor at large of The Root described the WorldStar site as “basically shock video. They comb the pop cultural landscape for videos that are shocking on multiple levels and feed into peoples’ voyeuristic tendencies.”

O’Denat was the father of three children and was affectionately known as “Q” to fans. The site’s  Facebook page anounced his death and described him as “ a brilliant businessman who championed urban culture, ultimately creating the largest hip-hop website in the world.” O’Denat was 43 years old.

Sprint Buys a Piece of Tidal

Cellphone carrier Sprint just dropped $200 million on JayZ for a nice chunk of his Tidal music streaming service.

JayZ purchased Tidal in 2015 for the purpose of getting artist a greater share of the music royalties. He was effective in getting numerous artists to join the service including his wife Beyonce. But his investment seemed to turn sour from day one as Tidal encountered one crisis after another. The service has been mired in lawsuits from various artists including the Prince estate. Tidal has also been accused of falsifying the number of  subscribers. Several executives have been fired or resigned. And to top it all off the service has yet to turn a profit.

It appears that after two years of negotiations Sprint has made a substantial investment in Tidal. For their $200 million Sprint takes a 33 percent stake in the company. That cash will help shore up Tidal which has had problems paying music labels. For almost a year Tidal has been looking for a partner and briefly flirted with both Apple and Samsung before Sprint returned to the table.

For Sprint the deal could be used as an incentive to grow its subcribers by offering access to early tickets sales or private shows from some of Tidal’s artist/owners. This type of incentive has worked with other cell carriers. This not new territory for Sprint which partnered with Spotify for bundle offerings within its “Framily plans” in 2014.

According to the additional cash will allow Tidal to create of a $75 million marketing fund for Tidal artist exclusives and initiatives. This initiative could mean more exclusive releases coming to Tidal in 2017 along with more concerts and music videos. estimates Tidal’s market value to be nearly $600 million.

Officially Sprint and Tidal have not released any details as to how the two would mutually benefit but Sprint says more information will be “available soon.”

Breaking It Down

JayZ is fighter. Tidal has not been the jewel he thought it was when he purchased it but it is a jewel just the same. With all the problems and the money issues the streaming service has JayZ understands that music will always be in demand. He just has to figure how to tap into that demand. His fight is to find Tidal’s niche. Let me tell you this, if Apple and Samsung both were considering buying the company then it becomes obvious that it has value. This value includes a nice list of artists that both own a piece of Tidal as well as provide content.  So what is the niche? Well that answer is yet to come but one thing is for sure; $200 million will certain help find it. Sprint understands that to survive in the cellphone industry it must expand its offerings. Keep in mind that cellphone carriers are in a life and death struggle to survive against the constant rise of smaller carriers serving market niches with better prices and no contracts.  Offering the latest cellphones just doesn’t cut it anymore. Content is king. Tidal has content.


Department of Labor Sues Oracle and Google

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against Oracle Corporation for discriminatory pay and hiring practices and Google for withholding pay and compensation data.

According to the DOL Oracle systematically pays white male employees more than minorities, women and Asians doing the same job. The suit goes on to accuse Oracle of favoritism in hiring Asian workers for technical and product roles over others applying for the same jobs.

Oracle is a federal contractor that  provides services, software and hardware to the U.S. government and is required to maintain equitable and fair hiring practices.

In response Oracle claims the suit is politically motivated. In a statement to an Oracle spokesperson said; “The complaint is politically motivated, based on false allegations, and wholly without merit. Oracle values diversity and inclusion, and is a responsible equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. Our hiring and pay decisions are non-discriminatory and made based on legitimate business factors including experience and merit.”

Oracle claims to have more that 400,000 customers in 145 countries. Oracle is second only to Microsoft specializing in developing and marketing database software and technology, cloud engineered systems and enterprise software products.

If Oracle is be found to be discriminating the cost could be significant. The company could have its federal contracts cancelled and face a ban on receiving future contracts from the federal government.

Google has some questions to answer as well. The DOL   filed a lawsuit seeking the release of compensation data from Google. Google was asked by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs  (OFCCP) to submit the data in 2015 but so far the Google has not complied. The data being demanded deals directly the company’s equal opportunity program and practices. Because Google is a federal contractor it is required to provide the information.

Unlike the Oracle lawsuit the DOL does not accuse Google of discrimination. Instead it alleges that Google failed to cooperate with the DOL as it conducted its audit. Instead the company sent a letter to the department declining to provide the asked for data. 

Federal contractor audits sometimes expose evidence leading to anti-discrimination lawsuits. Another government contractor, Palantir Technologies,  was sued last September by the Department of Labor for discriminating against Asian job applicants.

The suit against Palantir was set in motion after a compliance review by the OFCCP. The OFCCP found that Palantir had been in violation of  Executive Order 11246 since January 2010. The order details equal employment opportunities and non-discriminatory practices. The DOL alleges that Palantir’s hiring process “routinely eliminated” qualified Asian applicants for software engineering roles in the resume screening and telephone interview phases. Palantir is alledged to have hired a majority of people from its discriminatory employee referral system. Palantir denies the allegations.

Google claims to be withholding the information for privacy reasons. However the company has provided hundreds of thousands of documents in cooperation with the DOL audit. 

A Google spokes said in statement that; “We’ve worked hard to comply with the OFCCP’s current audit. However, the handful of OFCCP requests that are the subject of the complaint are overbroad in scope, or reveal confidential data, and we’ve made this clear to the OFCCP, to no avail. These requests include thousands of employees’ private contact information which we safeguard rigorously. We hope to continue working with OFCCP to resolve this matter.”

Diversity Continues to Elude Tech Industry

Image by Stuart Miles

For all the hoopla and declarations by companies promising to improve diversity not a lot is happening. As matter of fact some companies have delayed or outright resisted releasing certain diversity data.

According to the Wall Street Journal Twitter, Pinterest and delayed their diversity reports for more than a year. finally released its diversity data in December. The numbers showed little has changed. According to the company the release was delayed to accomodate the hiring of a diversity leader. That job went to Tony Prophet who will focus on initiatives to bring greater diversity to the business software company. Prophet came over from Microsoft where he was was co-executive sponsor of Blacks at Microsoft and founding executive of BlackLight, an organization for black marketers at Microsoft.

Google and Facebook have tried to increase diversity but failed to make any real progress. According to  Googles’s chief of diversity, Nancy Lee, maybe leaving the company.

Lee joined Google in 2006 to focused on Google’s diversity efforts as the director of people operations in 2010 becoming vice president of that division in 2013. Lee managed to increase the number women in the company by one percent but the number of blacks and Latinos did not change at all.

Facebook’s diversity data is also nothing to brag about. The latest diversity report showed that only 2 percent of its U.S. workforce is African-American and only 4 percent are Hispanic. Facebook has made respectable progress in hiring minorities into leadership positions. According to the company 9 percent of new senior leadership hires in the U.S. are African-American and 5 percent are Latino. Women in leadership positions at Facebook has increased from 23 percent to 27 percent in a year.

But the lack of diversity is not the sole fault of the tech industry. There are other factors that must be taken into account.  Many black and Latinos computer science majors choose not to go into the tech field. Why?

According to the Census Bureau American Community Survey forty percent of Asian graduates pursued technology careers compared to only 16 percent of black graduates and 12 percent of Latinos. .

Ten percent of black computer science and engineering graduates end up with office, administrative support or accounting jobs, compared with 5 percent of white graduates and 3 percent of Asians.

Maya A. Beasley, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut studied U.S. Department of Education data for her book; Opting Out: Losing the Potential of America’s Young Black Elite.”  According to Beasley black students were less likely than white students to continue in the major if they felt that there were underperforming. In addition African-American students who stayed in the major were less likely to apply for technical jobs choosing instead to pursue nonprofit or business work instead. Others failed to seek out jobs in technology because of the percieved atmosphere and culture of technology companies as unwelcoming to blacks.

Beasley said; “Any student of color looking at the numbers from the tech giants is going to be turned off and wary about taking a job there because it tells you something about what the climate is. They don’t want to be the token.”

Another major issue is the recruiting process. Many tech companies are seeking talent at the top universities where blacks are not heavily represented. The pipeline to talented students does reach to many historically black universities.

Another issue in the hiring process is the interview. Black colleges may not be properly preparing black students to get the jobs. Technology recruiters conduct interviews by giving code writing candidates whiteboard interviews. A whiteboard interview consists of solving a problem by writing code on a whiteboard. Unlike Asian and white recruits black students are unprepared for this challenge.

Yet another obstacles may the student’s name. Research has shown that many recruiters shy away from black sounding names. This is a common problem among hiring mangers who may have an unconcious racial bias. 

Breaking It Down

How is it possible for a major university to find the most incredible black athlete in the most tragic schools and neighborhoods in the country but you can’t find a black student capable of learning computer science? How is this possible? That same questions applies to major tech corporations. High tech companies like Intel, Microsoft, Cisco and the hundreds of other should be able to apply the same search and recruiting skills that a college basketball or footbal coach uses to find capable recruits and apply them to your human resources recruiting. College and pro sports teams identify and track promising atheletes from junior high school to the day of the pro draft. Using extensive record keeping, and yes technology, to track and predict their potential. Why can’t technology companies do the same? Find these promising young men and women in middle school and groom them as your future workers. Get involved when they are young and show interest in their future. Get involved in black and minority schools, public schools. The model is there and the pay off could be huge. If you would just try.

ShearShare – App of the Week and Start-Up of the Year

ShearShare Founders Courtney and Tye Caldwell

Business success is about finding the sweet spot where supply meets demand. The right recipe mixing supply and demand creates opportunity. Thats is why ShearShare is the App of the Week and Start Up of the Year.

ShearShare is the brainchild of Courtney and Tye Caldwell. This ingenious couple created an app that allows barbers, beauticians, manicurist and stylist to find a space to work. An empty barber chair or hair station does not make money. But using ShearShare a shop owner can fill that spot and a barber or beautician can have a place to work, on demand.

ShearShare has exploded on the scene in 250 cities and in 11 countries and expanding to another 32 cities. ShearShare plans to be in every state where booth rentals are allowed by June of 2017. ShearShare was named Start-Up of the Year for 2016.

One of things that makes this app so powerful is the fact that it solves a problem by using technology to address a changing industry. Stylists were no longer renting space for very long. Many stylist became more transient. This is where supply and demand became genius for this Texas couple.

Tye is the owner of  Salon74 by Tye.  Calls came into his Plano, TX salon from stylists seeking to borrow a seat in his salon for a day or two. These calls came in from local stylists and out of state. A good stylists or barber is hard to find and the good ones have dedicated and loyal clients. But people move. And smart stylists wanted to continue to service their clientele. Let me give you an example; former President Barack Obama flew his barber in from Chicago every two weeks.  Short term rental of salon space was not an industry practice but it was a good idea.

Tye saw the opportunity. “We were still trying to fill our empty salon suites the old way, by having stylists sign long-term contracts,” said Tye. “But we soon realized that we could make some money on our space rather than none. We said ‘let’s try it out, it can’t hurt.’ Then it kept happening over and over again. We were manually matching stylists to salons at first, but at state number 5, we thought there had to be something out there to scale this. There has to be an app for that.”

The result of this action lead to the creation of an app that allows mobile and home beauticians an opportunity to work for their clients in a professional setting while at the same time creating revenue for the shop owner.

ShearShare is available for Android and Apple devices.


App of the Week – Life Pocket

Inspiration is a powerful force. Understanding a problem and how it impacts you and those you love is even more inspirational. One teenager from Kenya possessed this inpiration and understanding and used it to make a change in the world. That is why Life Pocket is the App of the Week.

The Kenyan teenager we speak of is Caroline Wambui. Wambui was deeply affected by the loss of her uncle to kidney failure. No one in Carolines’s family was a match for a donation. There is also a cultural taboo against organ donation in Kenya. The country, like so many other African nations, does not have a national organ donor program.

Caroline Wambui with smartphone

Kenyan’s and other Africans die needlessly because of the lack or a donor database. Many others are forced into extremely dangerous organ markets.

But fortunately Kenya has a robust technology program that is bringing technology education to schools. The Kenyan government has instituted a laptops for schools policy. Contributions from numerous multi-nationals and local startups are working to improve Kenya’s educational system by introducing technology.

Caroline, because of this effort, used her education in technology to find a solution to the problem that led to her uncle’s death. It took two years but this young lady created the app Life Pocket.

The Life Pocket app registers and links patients with organ donors, doctors and hospitals for the purpose of making life saving organ donations possible.

Damaris and Caroline working on the app in a computer lab at the Embakasi Girls School.  (Photo by Guillaume Bonn/ Getty Images Assignment for intel)

Life Pocket  was just a dream until Damaris Mutati, Caroline’s teacher at the Embakasi Girls Secondary School became involved. Mutati introduced technology to her students. She understands that technology education is vital to the young people of the African continent.

Caroline enlisted the help of her fellow students to develop Life Pocket. Mutati demonstrated a burning passion for tech education. She participated in two programs run by U.S. chipmaker Intel in Kenya. Intel’s programs, Teach, and She Will Connect, assisted teachers seeking to introduce IT knowledge to African children.

But Intel did not stop there. The company’s staff volunteered to teach a coding workshop at Caroline’s school introducing the students to Intel XDK a unified development environment that enabled the students to design, create, test and deploy HTML5 apps.

Because of the efforts of Mutati and the involvement of multi-national corporations like Intel technology education has taken hold in Kenya and across Africa. One student, Caroline Wambui, has already changed the world because of it.

Race and Technology –

Image from Ferris State University

Segregation lives online. During the Civil Rights era segregation, separate but equal, Jim Crow and racial separation was what the fight was all about. Racial equality and justice for all was the battle cry. The fight continues and the new battle field is the Internet.

Information is the currency of the digital age. We live in a world where the money comes from information that is created, accumulated then bought and sold. That information allows the user to discriminate willfully and without consequence. Old prejudices are finding new youth and vigor online. People of color are being harrassed in their own neighborhoods, kept out of other neighborhoods and jobs by racists using technology

Many communities have social sharing websites that is supposed to increase neighborhood cohesion and safety. But some neighbors are using it as channel for racist actions and ideas. Websites like have experienced racial profiling on their websites and seeing neighbors target neighbors for the color of their skin. is a website that helps creates “private social networks for neighborhoods.” The website offers a free web platform on which members can post messages about almost anything to people who live in their immediate neighborhood. But too often the social sites are used as tools of suspicion and harrassment.

What has become common on are postings that openly label African-Americans and other people of color as suspicious for simply walking down the street, driving through the neighborhood, or knocking on a door. Users of have accused black municipal workers and others of being burglars. People have even posted pictures of black people seen in their neighborhood on the websites.

But it gets worse. Try finding a job in the age of the Internet. People with “black sounding” names  are 50 percent less likely to get a call back for a job compared to a white sounding name. In other words, Joel will get a job interview, Jamaal will not.

Having a black sounding name and being from the wrong neighborhood makes life even more difficult.  Studies indicate that if you live in a certain zip code (i.e,predminantly black) you could also find yourself not getting that call for a job internview. Data collection makes this possible.

Data collection and analysis can determine the make up of a zip code that includes racial make up, income, crime rates and a lot more. Its called demographics.

In 2013 a lawsuit was brought against the State of Nebraska accused the state of discriminating against its African-American employees. The lawsuit claimed that the state offered less health insurance coverage to state workers living in certain zip codes in and around Lincoln and Omaha; black neighborhoods. According to the lawsuit 96 percent of the state’s estimated 450 African-American employees lived in those zip codes.

Internet segregation is as ugly and obvious as it as ever been and the there seems to be no shame or restraint in its practice. We live in a social media, share it all environment and the biggest social media provider of all is Facebook. Facebook has millions upon millions of African-American users and yet Facebook is guilty of allowing its tools and programs to be used to discriminate against people of color.

Facebook’s technology makes it capable of hyper-targeting advetising. And this has created a way for racist to eleminate any possiblity of the “wrong”person” seeing any ad they want to publish. Facebook has profited from selling these racist ads. Facebook calls it “Ethnic Affinity” marketing. But there are other words for it. How about “red lining?”

Red lining is a practice that is used by lenders where they will not provide financial services to certain areas of a city. These are often black comunities where African-American businesses are choked off from loans and other financial services. Real estate red lining has been ruled illegal.  All people must be provided the same opportunity in housing and home financing. But that is not always the truth.

A recent report fom shows how easy it is to discrminate against minorities in housing. Vox revealed exactly how Facebook’s targted advertising works to exclude people of color from housing opportunities. They did this by setting up a housing ad to eliminate African-Americans, Latinos and Asians from seeing the ad. This is illegal but still goes on today.

The problem is far deeper than you might imagine. Cities and municipalities also discriminate against people of color in housing as revealed by the report.

Erin Boggs, Executive Director of the Open Communities Alliance revealed that there are towns that give affordable housing preference to people who already live there. The result is that if a town is mostly white it will likely stay that way.

This type of segregation eliminates blacks and other minorities from housing, jobs and other opportinitues with a single click of the mouse.

According to the the Internet is as segregated as the real world. In the report it was revealed that people who visited non-racial websites tended to click on other non-racial websites while those that visited racially focused websites tended to visit other racially focused websites. This is commonly called self-segregation.

If you thought that Jim Crow was a dead and racial segregation was a thing of the past you haven’t been online lately.

Now you know.



Breach Brief – U.S. Military Special Ops Healthcare

U.S. military healthcare professionals working with the Defense Department may have had highly sensitive personal information exposed by an employer IT error. Some of these personnel have top secret security clearances.

Chris Vickery of Mackeepers  found 11GB of exposed files, including the names, locations, Social Security Numbers, salaries, and assigned units for scores of healthcare professionals working at the U.S. military’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM).


Many of the personnel files exposed in the data breach belong to SOCOM’s Preservation of the Force and Families (POTFF) program. The program is designed to have unit specific healthcare professionals and counselors working to ease the psychological and physical strains that affect military special ops troops and their families. 

Vickery pointed out the exposed data and sloppiness of the government contractor known as Potomac Healthcare. The company is owned by the Booz Allen Hamilton. In his blogpost Vickery claimed to have to contact the company twice before any action was taken to remove the information.  

“It is not presently known why an unprotected remote synchronization (rsync) service was active at an IP address tied to Potomac. I do know that when I called one of the company’s CEOs this past Thursday to report the exposure, he did not seem to take me seriously,” said Vickery.

Booz Allen Hamilton employed the now infamous Edward Snowden who leaked documents to the press in 2013, revealing the extent of US government spying.

Black Women in Technology Doing Their Own Thing

Aniyia L. Williams, Founder, CEO of Tinsel

Women are different creatures. Their sense of beauty and aesthetics is keen. Because of this they are often caught at the collision of technology and style. The perfect outfit can be ruined by the functional style of technology. One black women has recognized that style and technology do not have to clash. Aniyia L. Williams is the founder and CEO of Tinsel. Williams creates technology enabled jewelry for women that blends the two. Tinsel products  are designed to ensure that women can enjoy technology with style.

Williams is an alumna of Code2040 a program who’s stated goal is to promote African-Americans and Latinos as true technology innovators and entrepreneurs by the year 2040. The leaders of this program believe that  “the nation as a whole will be stronger when the contributions of communities of color are sought out and included within the innovation economy. As result, in 2040, we envision a nation as a whole that is more equitable, innovative, and prosperous.”

Tinsel Dipper Ear Buds

Williams is a remarkable women who is proud of her multiple talents. Her personal website lists them as not only the founder of Tinsel but also marketer, musician, hair magician. techie, foodie and mother.

In addition to Tinsel Williams serves as Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) with her alma mater CODE2040, she works with Google for Entrepreneurs, and is a board member of the non-profit audio engineering group Women’s Audio Mission.

Aniyia Williams decided that style and function can work together with technology in the mix. Williams’ Tinsel design company is the product of a common dilemma that is headphones that lack feminine style and are a problem to keep track of and store.  There had to be an answer.

Tinsel Audio Necklace

Williams answer to the problem was to put great-sounding earbuds inside a fashionable necklace that kept them ready use, out of sight and still looking great with any outfit. A great idea but Williams had never started a business before nor created discreet, miniaturized audio equipment. This was her challenge.

Williams went to work on her dream even while hiding her pregnancy from her employees and investors. But that is another exciting story.

Williams startup was bare bones but her target goal was to get a prototype ready. She was dedicated to creating a quality product and studied audio engineering so her product would deliver quality sound while still looking great. Williams made maximum use of her connections  like her former boss at Vox CEO Tom Katis.

The results of one black women following her dream has resulted in a company that pioneers the converging region of style and technology. Williams worked with co-founder Monia Santinello to push Tinsel to the front as a fashion/tech brand.

Another remarkable fact of the Tinsel brand is that it is almost all women who have built it. “A man just doesn’t come from a place of knowing what happens when you wake up in the morning and decide to put on a piece of jewelry,” Williams said. “It’s not just about having the technical chops, it’s about deeply understanding the use case and the demographic.”

Tinsel’s first product named the Dipper launched an Indiegogo campaign  to generate much needed capital and to prove to potential investors that Williams had truly found a market worth backing. The campaign was a success bringing in more than $50,000 in pre-orders.

With this success Tinsel is now up and flying as a fashion/tech company. Check out the company website to see its products.

Now you know.

Celebrity Cyber Report – Run-DMC Sues, Walmart and

Run-DMC (Image from

Darryl McDaniels, one of the surviving members of the legendary 80’s hip-hop group RUN-DMC has filed suit against online retailers,,Walmart and others for trademark infringement.

According to the lawsuit “The products sold by the Defendants confuse the public as to the source of the products and suggests that RUN-DMC endorses the products. The Defendants are trading on the goodwill of RUN-DMC.”

This and similar lawsuits highlights the problems that arise when online retailers allow third parties to sell products through their websites. recently filed a lawsuit in Washington state court to shut down the sale of counterfeit items on its site.

The scourge of counterfeit products has impacted many tech companies including Apple computer. In October Apple filed a lawsuit in Northern California claiming that nearly 90 percent of supposedly  genuine Apple products being sold on by a third party were fake. 

Ebay, the largest online marketplace, is also having its problems with counterfeit products. 24/ reported recently that 500,000 counterfeit products were sold to eBay customers.

Run-DMC’s lawsuit claims  the issue goes beyond third party sellers. The suit accuses of selling and marketing some of the fake Run-DMC items itself in addition to fulfilling orders made to its partners.

According to the complaint fake RUN-DMC products include shirts, patches, wallets, hats and glasses. “The Defendants have earned substantial revenue due to their unlawful use of Plaintiff’s trademark,” the complaint reads.

RUN-DMC was made up of Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels, and Jason Mizell from Hollis, Queens New York. Mizell, also known as “Jam Master Jay,” was killed in 2002. His murder remains unsolved.