Monthly Archives: June 2017

Intel Drops $4.5 M on HBCUs to Increase Retention in STEM College Majors and Careers

Written by Robin White Goode for BlackEnterprise.com, June 27th, 2017

 

Intel Corporation announced the Intel HBCU Grant Program, a three-year, $4.5 million initiative, to help retain students in STEM pathways at six historically black colleges: Florida A&M University, Morgan State University, Howard University, Prairie View A&M University, North Carolina A&T State University, and Tuskegee University.

“The key goal of the program is retention, in college as well as in STEM careers,” Barbara Whye told me, Intel’s chief diversity and inclusion officer and vice president of Human Resources. “We’re working to increase retention rates in partnership with the universities.”

This is not an easy goal. The New York Times has previously reported that black people make up 1% of the tech workforce at Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twittermaking this demographic the least represented of all underrepresented groups.

Intel’s Commitment to Diversity

In January 2015, Intel announced its goal to reach full representation in 2020, across all categories, from entry level positions, to the senior vice president, as well as among the Intel Fellows—which is the highest technical role at the company—Whye says. “Full representation” is determined by what’s available in the employee “market.” For example, if 25% of those with engineering degrees are women, Intel’s goal is to employ 25% or higher women engineers by 2020.

Intel is one of 80 companies that agreed to a White House pledge last year to increase diversity; of those companies, it’s been reported that only seven have released data about their progress, of which, Intel is one.

“We are serious about this commitment,” Whye says. “We’re one of the few still monitoring and reporting transparently about our progress. We’ve committed $300 million to invest in diversity and inclusion in our Intel workforce.”

The Intel HBCU Grant Program

The Intel HBCU Grant Program may hold promise in supporting the company’s achievement of its goals. The six HBCUs were chosen because they grant degrees relevant to Intel—in computer science, electrical engineering, and computer engineering.“These degrees fit within our relevant space. About 80,000 workers at Intel have engineering degrees,” Whye says, who also has a B.S. in electrical engineering.

She also explained that the program was developed with input from the schools themselves.“We spent nine months on the ground with the university presidents, in conversation. A lot of times, companies design programs for universities instead of having conversations with those universities, but we talked through its development.”

Another great aspect of the program is that it’s based on what research has shown to contribute to student success. Whye explained that, in order to increase retention for STEM students, key success factors are access, awareness, opportunity, role models, hands-on research, a quality curriculum, and knowing how this work makes a difference. “The program is designed around these key success factors,” Whye says.

The three-year program will also bring professors from the six campuses to Intel, so they can engage in annual workshops, and take back what they learn to their schools.

Internships and two-year scholarships are integral to the program. Black employees at Intel will also have the option of getting involved, by “adopting” one of the six schools or mentoring a student.

For more information about the Intel HBCU Grant Program, visit this website.

Twitter Names Black Woman to VP of Diversity

Candi Castleberry-Singleton (Twitter)

Candi Castleberry-Singleton has been named vice president of inclusion and diversity at Twitter. Castleberry-Singleton replaces Jeffrey Siminoff who resigned in February.  Castleberry-Singleton has a long track record in the field of diversity and inclusion. Previously she worked at some of America’s top technology companies including Motorola where she was vice president of global inclusion and diversity. At Sun Microsystems she led the Global Inclusion Center of Expertise. She also worked in sales and marketing at Xerox.

In a statement Castleberry-Singleton said, “I’m so excited to join the team at Twitter to lead inclusion and diversity efforts for employees and the Twitter community. I look forward to bringing what I’ve learned to Twitter.”

Twitter, like many tech companies, have faced criticism for the lack of diversity in its workforce. Twitter has been hit with high turnover in its diversity leadership position. The company has seen three diversity chiefs depart since 2015.

Castleberry-Singleton takes over a position in a company that is popular among African-Americans.  Pew Research reported that  28 percent of African-American and Latino Internet users use Twitter compared to 20 percent of Internet users who are white use it.

Twitter is the second major tech company to turn to an African-American woman to solve their diversity issues. Recently Apple named a black woman, Denise Young Smith, to head it’s diversity efforts.

Castleberry-Singleton is the founder of the Dignity and Respect Campaign an organization that focuses on providing open and respectful workplaces for all ethnicities.

A native of Los Angeles, Castleberry-Singleton possess extensive educational credentials with an MBA from Pepperdine University and a bachelor’s degree in legal studies from UC Berkeley. She also completed the Stanford University Executive Human Resources program.

 

 

How to Safely Buy a Used Smartphone

African-Americans rely heavily in their smartphones. We use these devices for everything from email to banking to reinforcing our faith.  So buying used technology like a smartphone, laptop or tablet could be a disaster if you don’t know what you’re doing. Saving money is the objective for African-Americans but saving yourself some headaches ranks right up there as well.

How should black people buy used technology? What should we be looking for? How do we avoid scams and just outright junk?

First of all stay away from Craigslist.  I am not saying you can’t get some good deals but Craigslist is crawling with scam artists. Why take the chance? Look into refurbished products. The refurbished technology market is a great place to shop and many of the tech devices are factory refurbished. This means that they are repaired and re-conditioned by the maker to their standards. And many come with the proper guarantees and warranties to ease your fears. Some products you find on the refurbished market are simply returns that have never been used. Others had minor damage from shipping or were flawed and repaired for re-sale.

You probably know that a new smartphone could run you as much as $750 for the new top of the line models.  As a matter of fact Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 8 smartphone will break the bank at over $900. You can sometimes get a discount on a new phone by signing a contract but you still pay in the long run.

As I said, the best kind of used smartphone is a refurbished phone. They are fully tested, factory reset, and certified. Buying a refurbished phone, usually last year’s model, is close to the experience of buying a new phone. Let’s be real, there are often minor upgrades to this years model over last year’s. But the price difference can be hundreds of dollars. And do you need all the fancy tricks, bells and whistles anyway?

Buying a refurbished iPhone from Apple is a great move. Apple takes great care and pride in it’s used products.  For example, your used iPhone will have a new battery, the outer case will look and feel brand new and probably is. It will come in a brand new box with all the needed accessories. All that and a one year warranty. Try that on Craigslist!

If possible always buy directly from the manufacturer or certified re-seller. These companies are highly motivated to sell problem free used products.

So where do you buy factory refurbished smartphones? Try Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, Samsung, or Walmart.   Also check eBay and Blinq.com.

If you buy a used phone from another source make sure you follow these tips.

  • Check the device throughly for damage and functionality. Make sure it works as it should. Sort of take it for a test drive.
  • Check for tell tale signs of it being stolen like being unable to unlock it or not having accessories like the charging cord.
  • Check for contacts, messages and photos on board. This may indicate the phone was lost or stolen.
  • Apple iPhone comes with several apps that can only be deleted through jail breaking. These apps are camera, photos, music, clock, settings, messages, phone, mail, Safari, App Store, weather, reminders, calculator, calendar, iTunes, Newsstand, videos, Compass, Game Center, contacts, stocks, voice memos, Notes, Passbook and Maps. If any of these are missing don’t buy!
  • Search the iPhone for “Cydia.” This application is present on almost all jailbroken iPhones as it gives access to Cydia apps.
  • Connect your iPhone to your computer and use the iTunes “Restore” function. Once the restore process is complete, you can be certain your phone is not jailbroken.
  • Never buy a phone that is not fully charged.
  • Finally the U.S .wireless industry trade group, CTIA, has launched a tool called the Stolen Phone Checker, which lets you look up whether a phone has been reported lost or stolen. You simply go to the website and enter the IMEI, MEID or ESN number. Keep in mind that these companies keep a database of stolen phones and will not allow the phone to connect to any service if it is reported stolen.
If you want to buy an unlocked phone capable of being used on any service then you may want to check into Amazon. The ‘sell you anything’ company is expanding its unlocked phone marketplace.  Unlocked phones are a growing market because people want to save money and have the flexibility to go with any service they desire. And let’s not forget that many carriers are no longer offering the subsidies and free phones with a contract like they used to.
 
 Now you know.
 
 

 

 

Stanford Study Reveals Cops Target Black Drivers

Driving while black is still a major health risk to African-Americans. Of course you may get into an accident but you could also get killed by police during a routine traffic stop. Traffic stops kiled Sandra Bland and Philando Castile .

Could these deadly encounters be linked to cops targeting black drivers? A group of researchers from Stanford University may have answered this question. This group of researchers spent two years analyzing traffic stop data from all 50 states.

Once their study was completed the group launched the Open Policing website to host the results of their study but also all the data collected.  Their research includes over 100 million stops from 31 states. The website offers an  interactive map  displaying the results from each state allowing users to easily access and compare that information in areas across the U.S.

But what is the data telling black people? Or all people for that matter. The data tells black people and people of color what we already knew. Black and Hispanic drivers are pulled over more often and are searched based on less evidence than white drivers. According to Stanford researchers the data shows not only a racial disparity in police practices but is also evidence of racial biases in traffic enforcement.

To get to the meat of the issue the researchers had to use statistical analysis to filter out racial discrimination from effective policing. And the result?  Black people get pulled over more than white people. It is a common reality of African-American life.

The research showed that black drivers are stopped at a higher rate than white drivers regardless of the driver’s age or gender. Analysis also showed that police ticket, search, and arrest black drivers 20 percent more often than white drivers. Being of brown skin is even worse. Hispanic drivers are 30 percent more likely to be ticketed than white drivers. Black and Hispanic drivers are also twice as likely to be searched compared to white drivers.

Breaking It Down

Why do I keep doing this? Again and again we see the data that is telling black people what we already know. Driving while black is semi-illegal. This particular study deserves praise because of the work that went into it. The data and analysis is clearly presented and shows powerful academic effort. Thank you Stanford University. The data does not lie. Traffic enforcement is being used as a tool of intimidation of black people. As a black man why am I nervous when I see a cop in the rear view mirror? I’m not talking about the “Am I speeding?” nervous. No, I’m talking about “Am I about to have an unpleasant or even deadly encounter with a police officer?” nervous. Police are abusing their authority to intimidate black drivers. It leaves black parents praying that their child survives being out with the family car. White people need not worry about this. There is but one way to look at these numbers; intimidation. It was revealed that the police of Ferguson, MO used traffic stops, illegal search and seizure and excessive force on the black population. What we are seeing from the Stanford study is the evidence that Ferguson police are the norm and not the exception.

See also: Cellphones and Streaming Media Capture Capture Police Killing Black Men,  “The Counted” Website Tracks Cop Killings.

 

Google for Jobs

African-Americans, like most job seekers, turn to search engines and job sites like Indeed when looking for work. Google, the worlds largest search engine, has  announced Google for Jobs. The new service seeks to leverage Google’s advanced machine learning capabilities to sort through millions of job listings to better match opportunities with candidates.

This new service could help with black unemployment rates which are almost always higher than the national average. Why? Perhaps your name is too black. But ask any African-American and they will tell you straight up that job hunting is an unfair game.

Google for Jobs does not plan to offer its own job listing service. What it is doing is collecting job listings from third party sites like Facebook, Linkedin.com, Glassdoor, Monster, and ZipRecruiter.  Google will then filter jobs using various criteria and bundle together openings for similar jobs that might be listed under different names.

Major employers like FedEx and Johnson & Johnson have been piloting the program. According to Google CEO Sundar Pichai the companies saw an 18 percent increase in applications compared to previous methods. The service works by sending the user to the job site posting to apply. But the job listing market is a big business with a market size estimated at $4 billion annually. According to a report by Bloomberg, Indeed.com job search site raked in over $300 million in revenue in the first half of 2015. Google could be testing the waters before it dives in. 

Google for Jobs could play well among black people by revealing more opportunities for employment. According to a study African-Americans have come to rely on online job search information sources more than any U.S. racial or ethnic group. But evidence indicates that not only are black sounding names shunned in the recruitment process but blacks require more education that whites when applying for the same jobs.

National Bureau of Economic Research report showed that applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback. Applicants with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback. The launch of Google for Jobs is planned in the next few weeks.

 

 

Troubled Uber Hires Black Woman to Manage It’s Brand

In case you haven’t heard Uber is having it’s troubles right now. First there was the video of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick berating an Uber driver leading to his apologizing and asking for leadership help. Then there was the scandal involving Uber using technology to avoid government monitors. Uber drivers are suing the company for unpaid wages. Now an Uber board member has resigned after making a blatantly sexist remarks during a board meeting about sexism in the workplace. And now Kalanick has resigned as CEO but will remain on the board of directors. The company is in turmoil to say the least.

Enter Bozoma Saint John. Saint John is joining Uber as the new Chief Brand Officer. Saint John is departing Apple to accept the position. At Apple Saint John was head of global consumer marketing. She also headed up music and entertainment marketing at PepsiCo, where she struck a massive $50 million sponsorship deal with Beyonce.

Embattled Uber CEO Kalanick said in statement to Fortune, “Boz has a long track record of successfully creating emotional connections between people and the products they love. Her creativity and deep understanding of consumers will allow us to build the same love and appreciation for Uber’s brand as we’ve built for Uber’s service.”

This is a good move for Uber. The company is facing severe scrutiny for alleged sexual harassment in the work place. The claims have forced Uber to hire former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an internal investigation. But hiring a black women for the job of cleaning up the brand and adding diversity to the executive staff can only help the battered company. This year alone Uber has had top leadership quit. This includes its number two executive Jeff Jones who departed over concerns about management culture.

Fortune Magazine recognized Saint John as one of its 40 Under 40 last year for her work at Apple Music. Speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women: Next Gen summit in November 2016 Saint John addressed her efforts at trying to fit in as teenager at a Colorado high school. This after spending a good portion of her childhood in Ghana. “I couldn’t be blond, I couldn’t be white,” she said. “At 13, I learned what it meant to walk into a room and not care what everybody thinks of you.”

According to an Uber report issued in March no Black or Hispanic employees hold leadership positions on the technical side. The company said of the findings, “This clearly has to change. A diversity of backgrounds and experience is important at every level.” 

 

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – Dennis Rodman, Drake and Kanye

Dennis Rodman and PotCoin.

Smoking weed has always been big business. And now it is also slowly becoming a very legitimate business. Anytime Microsoft comes looking for a piece of the pie you know its legit.

Dennis Rodman has stepped into the weed game endorsing a new virtual currency to pay for your weed. Rodman showed up in North Korea on a ticket paid for by PotCoin. A new digital currency that bills itself as “Banking for the Marijuana Industry.” Rodman Tweeted a thank you to PotCoin for “financing his mission.”

PotCoin issued a press release announcing the “mission.” According to PotCoin Rodman will tell us all about it when he returns to the states. But we would be remiss if we did not point out that smoking weed is perfectly legal in North Korea. Something I am certain those nice folks at PotCoin are well aware of.

Sporting a PotCoin-branded t-shirt and baseball cap, Rodman released a short video  touting his visit as “all about peace.” This is not the first time Rodman has promoted a company by visiting the most closed country on earth.  Previously Rodman’s visit to the North was sponsored by an Irish betting company. Of course with this visit PotCoin crypto-currency shot up in value.

See also: Snoop Dogg Launches MerryJane.com 

Drake and Kanye Under Hack Attack

 Hackers love celebrities. So why not Drake and Kanye? According to reports a group calling itself the “Music Mafia” hacked Drake’s Twitter account. The same group also released two of Kanye’s unreleased recordings on YouTube and are threatening to strike again. Music Mafia’s website is offering more un-released music for sale using the Bitcoin virtual currency. 

Music Mafia, after claiming responsibility for the leaks,  had been laying low until this week. The group hacked Drake’s Twitter account on June 2nd  and posted a link to their website. The Tweet was quickly deleted.

Then Music Mafia leaked Kanye’s new music. According to the hacker website they are in possession of  unreleased  “songs from artists recorded years ago” as well as new tracks and music videos. Music Mafia is also offering members of the public exclusive leaks. 

Music Mafia offered the unreleased tracks of Calvin Harris’ ‘Slide’, Future’s ‘Ransom’ and a few other songs. But are now threatening to release more music from Kanye, Maroon 5 and PartyNextDoor,  for payments in Bitcoin.

The hackers seem to be are offering the stolen cuts only after they collect an unknown number of Bitcoins. The thefts are being carried out by highly professional hackers who have done well covering their tracks.The Music Mafia website is registered in the Kingdom of Tonga. But that tiny country’s servers appear to be hosted in Iceland by a company specializing in secure and anonymous web hosting. The only way to get in touch with them is through the decentralized and encrypted Bitmessage communications platform.

The Tech Industry’s Missed Opportunity: Funding Black Women Founders

By Bari A. Williams

Originally published on FastCompany.com May 5th, 2017

Author Bari A. Williams

This is a tale of two tech startups.

The first is a messaging app that allows a user to send a one-word greeting to a friend and nothing more. There is no messaging functionality, filtering features, or ability to provide a longer message. In time, it will come to send notifications for followers, with the message, “Yo,” and a link.

The second startup is also a messaging app. It operates much like Gmail and Outlook’s “recall message” feature, but for text messages, and is well positioned for dating app expansion. All of the text messages a user has sent to exes, old friends, parents, and colleagues can be recalled by using this app as a primary messaging app.

The first app, Yo, received mainstream press attention and $1.5 million dollars in funding from a well-known VC firm with Facebook alum. Its founder is a white man.

The other app, On Second Thought, is available in almost 200 countries but has yet to have a major VC funding round. Its founder, Maci Peterson, is a black woman. “Some large VCs thought we were too early, some never responded, some we couldn’t get meetings with,” she explains. The company bootstrapped first, then raised money from a friends and family round, included angel investors, and won money from pitch competitions.

The different outcomes for these two startups highlights the hurdles that black women founders often face. Investors aren’t taking risks on startups run by the nation’s most credentialed, accomplished, and ambitious group. In an industry filled with tales of boys behaving badly, there is a growing group of women who are just looking for their break. The tech industry, one that thrives on creative solutions and innovation, is ignoring the opportunity for fresh ideas for new products, and improvements on existing ones.

THE LOST OPPORTUNITY OF BLACK WOMEN FOUNDERS

Black women are the most educated group in the nation, and black women are the highest percentage of any group enrolled in college, as per the 2011 U.S. Census Bureau. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 60% of black women are active in the labor market, but are grossly underpaid (Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is on August 1 this year).

They are also the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the country. According to data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, there was a 265% increase in black women-owned business between 1997 and 2014, outpacing growth among all women-owned firms, which grew in revenues by 72% during the same time period. Black women are responsible for over 1.5 million businesses and generating over $44 billion a year in revenue, while being responsible for the livelihood of roughly 400,000 workers.

UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM

Women start companies at twice the rate of men, yet women comprise only 16% of tech founders.  According to a study by First Round Capital, founding teams including a woman outperform their all-male peers by 63%, but female CEOs get only 2.7% of all venture funding, while women of color get virtually none: 0.2%.

The fact that black women are educated and entrepreneurial yet so underfunded is a confluence of broadening thoughts of diversity, use of technology, and economic policy. The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 increased limits for tax write-offs for startups, such as the ability to deduct cell phone bills and depreciation, and health care costs. This was great news for black women, who tend to be younger when they found their companies, have more debt, and less access to capital. Black women have greater difficulty receiving funding from investors and creditors, and difficulty securing lending due to racial bias.

But tax write-offs don’t make up for the funding gap. When black women are funded, they get the short end of the stick, with the average raise round totaling just $36,000. Compare that figure to the composite of the average white male startup founder, who banks an average of $1.3 million in funding. The secondary problem with not receiving mainstream large VC funding? Scaling.

There is a compounding problem with not receiving venture capital funding from heavy hitters. Certain venture capital firms can turn products, and their founders, into stars. Backing from a big VC firm can bring increased media attention. That creates a buzz that ensures any advertising generates more interest, as the public has heard of the product, founder, or both.

Without this “machine,” a founder has to work harder to get the word out about a product that hasn’t been adequately cosigned by the tech elite, which makes an already uphill climb even more difficult. According to digitalundivided’s Project Diane, more than 50% of black female founders received less than $100,000 in funding, which implies that these women are tapping resources outside of traditional venture networks such as loans from family and friends, retirement accounts, credit cards, and personal savings.

An example of this is Blavity, a website for black millennials that covers everything from music and movie reviews to how to organize with and for Black Lives Matter. The site was founded in summer 2014 by Morgan DeBaun, who bootstrapped her business for the first year. “Is it possible [VCs] may be biased and would fund the same thing if presented by someone else? Of course. My co-founders worked at Palantir, Bain, and LinkedIn, [and have] Stanford educations,” she explains.

The larger problem DeBaun faces is securing funding to expand and scale the business. Creating and curating content is expensive, particularly in the competitive tech entertainment industry. Still, DeBaun is hopeful; Blavity has held two successful conferences in the past year that have attached investor attention.

WORKING AROUND THE PROBLEM AND SOLVING IT FOR THE FUTURE

On the off chance a black woman founder is funded, the money comes from within her community. In recent years, several black-owned VC funds and firms have opened their doors, with a focus on funding black-owned businesses that wouldn’t find funding elsewhere. Some key funders include Magic Johnson Enterprises, with director of investment Ryan L. Smith heading up funding opportunities including Jopwell, ShotTracker, Walker & Co, and Uncharted Play; Erik Moore at Base Ventures; former Hollywood agent and entertainment VC Charles King at Macro VenturesMonique Woodard at 500 Startups, focusing on black and brown founders; and Arlan Hamilton at Backstage Capital.

Some other ventures these funders have invested in include Blavity, 21Ninety, On Second Thought, Airfordable, and Pigeonly. Five of the companies are headed by black women founders.

Having money to keep the lights on and grow the business has been key for the women running these companies. While having the support of one’s community is crucial, particularly for receiving initial support and feedback on the product offerings and positioning, without the backing and mainstream support provided by access to funding, these transformational companies won’t be sustained.

Considering that the nation will be majority minority by 2044, blacks are the largest and most engaged group of early tech adopters, black spending power is at $1.25 trillion, and Hispanic buying power is at $1.3 trillion (which includes those identifying as Afro-Latinos), it would be wise to invest in these businesses for the good probability of return on investment. This demographic determines the “cool” factor of a product once released, and provides access to influencers and a group that can determine the next “it” technology.

A possible solution is diversifying large VC firms. Associate and partner ranks are on par with tech company diversity employee numbers, and those sourcing investment opportunities for the large VC firms resemble the companies they tend to invest in.

While many firms support the efforts of their portfolio companies to diversify in terms of employees and c-suite, there is little being done in terms of their own firms. It takes those in touch with the community to spot talent, novel ideas, and the ability to scale and profit from those diverse perspectives. Employing and empowering more diverse VC associates and partners would be a viable start. It is also good business.

VC firms could also raise a fund or allocate a portion of their current fund to only investing in people of color. If paired with a diverse associate or partner devoted to sourcing founders of color to invest in, this strategy could bring us closer to parity.

Technology has the ability to change lives, not just for the founders but the consumers, creating access and opportunities to worlds and resources never seen before. To promote not just equity in the industry, but industry progress with new technology and audiences, venture capitalists will have to pay attention to these forces of nature: fund them, provide advice, media support, and watch them soar. The industry will be better for it.

Bärí A. Williams (@bariawilliams) is head of business operations, North America, at StubHub. She previously served as lead counsel for Facebook and created their supplier diversity program.

See also: Silicon Valley Cash? Not for Blacks and Women