Tag Archives: IBM

Ime Archibong Hooking Up Facebook

Ime

Ime Archibong

Facebook, the world’s biggest and most powerful social network, hooks up people with people.  Ime Archibong hooks up Facebook with the world. As Facebook’s director of product partnerships Archibong has a dual mission, one, making sure Internet access is affordable and two, raising awareness of the benefits of being online.

Mark Zuckerberg launched Internet.org two and half years ago in a Herculean effort to connect everyone in the world to the web. Zuckerberg calculates that nearly 4.9 billion people are not connected. Roughly 10 to 15 percent of these people live in hard-to-reach places completely without access. Another major obstacle is Internet affordability. Many impoverished people simply have a hard enough time eating every day.

Archibong is leading the effort to change this. “If your mission is to create a world where people are more connected and people have the power to share, and you’re aiming to connect everyone, you can’t just stop at the folks that are here in North America or the folks that are on the Internet right now, because we are actually in the minority worldwide,” said Archibong. “The question is how do you get those next 4 billion people, who have never been connected, online and make sure they can get the same benefits, tools and experience that you and I are privy to, as a result of having connectivity.”

Internet.org has a varied strategy to get everyone online. Facebook has cut deals with phone carriers in various countries to make over 300 basic web services available for free; Facebook included. Through a research and development  group called the Connectivity Lab, Facebook is developing futuristic methods to deliver the net, including lasers, drones, and new artificial intelligence enhanced software. The technology, once perfected, will be open source allowing others to commercialize it.

Connectivity Lab’s work is a top priority for Zuckerberg.  Among his plan is to launch a satellite above sub-Saharan Africa by year’s end. Drone testing is also scheduled to begin soon. Facebook’s artificial intelligence mapping software will help determine where people need their phones to work. Facebook has deployed a team of developers to inland villages in an effort to hack together methods for getting people online.

Zuckerberg has been roundly criticized for his effort. Critics have accused him of an attempt to colonize the Internet believing he can do a better job than governments and major corporations of connecting people to the Internet.

Among Archibong’s responsibilities is traveling the world meeting with Facebook’s community of 9,000 developers spread out across 136 companies.

“One of the things we spend a lot of time doing is trying to think about the platforms we can build that ultimately will serve global entrepreneurs and developers, because we do think that they are the ones, they have the context, they understand the nuances, they understand what they should be building that’s going to best serve the local communities,” said Archibong.

“Meeting and talking with a lot of these folks trying to get context about what’s special to them, what’s special about their region … and what we can do from a Facebook perspective to arm them with the tools, the data, with the information to help serve their community a little better.”

Archibong is optimistic about Facebook’s  efforts to give billions more people access to the Internet. “I have this notion that people create special things when they’re able to connect with each other and understand each other,” said Archibong. “Some of these future platforms that we’re leaning into are truly going to unlock that value for people around the world, and change the way that we interact with each other, change the way that we interact with devices and actually change the way that devices connect with devices.”

Ime Archibong was born the child of Nigerian immigrants in Kansas and raised in North Carolina. Both his parents are professors. He graduated from Yale where he played on the basketball team and double majored in electrical engineering and computer science.

Archibong previously worked at IBM as a software engineer.

 

Obama Hosts Technology Demo Day

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www.whitehouse.gov

President Obama hosted the first ever White House Demo Day on his birthday. The purpose of Demo Day was to accelerate diversity in the U.S. tech sector and highlight the administration’s dedication to this goal.

The event hosted more than 90 entrepreneurs from 30 different companies. Many participants were expecting to see and demonstrate start up technology efforts from various entrepreneurs. The diverse group of participants represented the spectrum of  women and minorities struggling to get recognition from the established tech community. In a show of support the White House and ventures capitalist announced several programs and initiatives to advance diversity in tech.

One group of 40 top venture capital firms representing over $110 billion dollars invested in almost 7,000 start ups announced their commitment to a more inclusive entrepreneur environment. In a letter from the New Enterprise Association, a group that includes Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital,  and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, committed to monitor diversity within their individual firms and the companies they invest in.  The significance of this letter cannot be understated when women and African-Americans face huge obstacles to employment and investment in Silicon Valley.

Big name technology companies also made their presence known. IBM, Microsoft, Airbnb and Indiegogo are falling in step with the likes of Apple, Intel, Facebook and Pinterest by announcing that they will adopt the Rooney Rule. The rule comes from the NFL and states that a women or minority must at least be interviewed for senior positions in their companies. As many as 45 venture capital firms have adopted the Rooney Rule. But there are some who believe that even though the rule is well meaning it won’t work.

Google and Facebook announced a new program aimed at improving their diversity. Facebook launched the Supplier Diversity Program, that will focus on increasing the number of women and minority-owned business in the company’s supply chain.

In another announcement the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the expansion of its InnovateHER 2016: Innovating for Women Business Challenge. The program is national competition intended to identifying products and services designed to uplift and empower women and families. The contest is conducted through a string of local business competitions that includes a final round of live presentations. The idea is to spur innovative efforts by and for women.

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Emmitt McHenry, Inventor of the .com

Emmitt McHerny

Emmitt McHerny

On Sunday March 15th the .com Internet domain name system turned 30 years old. Emmitt McHenry, a black man, gave us the .com system we use today.

Before anyone ever heard of the Internet it was a simple government cold war project. The original purpose of the Internet was to create a communications network that could survive a nuclear attack.

In 1979, McHenry and his associates launched Network Solutions an engineering company. But, like many black owned companies, they could not secure financing. McHenry and his partners mortgaged their properties and maxed out their credit cards. The company managed to thrive. But the jewel in the Network Solutions crown was a contract with the National Science Foundation. The contract was for the U.S. government’s first domain name addressing system for the Internet.

McHenry created a complex computer code that allows ordinary people to surf the web and receive e-mails without having to study computer science. We know McHenry’s invention today as .com.

McHenry’s work appeared to pay off on Dec. 31, 1992. Network Solutions was the only bidder on a National Science Foundation grant to further develop the domain name registration service for the Internet. Network Solutions was granted an exclusive contract to be the sole domain name registrar for .com, .net and .org.  These are top level domain (TLD) names that were a continuation of the work Network Solutions was already doing. 

network_solutions_logo_2632In addition Network Solutions also maintained WHOIS . The central database of assigned names. Network Solutions was awarded the $1 million a year contract to manage the domain names registration service for the Internet. It turned out to be both a blessing and a curse.

A black owned company was the only company authorized to develop and issue Internet web addresses. Network Solution developed .com, .net, .edu, and .gov.

Al White, a friend of McHenry’s who was hired as to head up corporate marketing said, ““You have to understand,” explains White. “We had no competitors for the bid. Not AT&T.  No one.  No one really knew what this Internet thing was, so it was not on anyone’s radar.  And had it not been for the head of the NSF at that time, it would not have been on ours either.”

Besides the domain names Network Solutions was dealing with other sensitive government engineering projects. As the Internet began to explode McHenry realized the company needed to  grow. His problem was the $1 million a year government contract was proving to be a burdensome yoke. No matter how many .com names his company registered they could not raise the price.

Demand for domain names continued to explode and Network Solutions grew to 400 employees. McHenry applied to the government to charge directly for the domain names. The government refused and continued to pay the company $1 million a year regardless of how many names it registered.

“Slowly some people began to understand or at least be curious about the Internet,  and we started to get more and more requests for the domain names,” said White.  White pointed out the expensive task of building the technical infrastructure to handle such an emerging industry was costly to create, to say the least.  “We had no income producing model for this,” White explains.  “The agency (NSF) would not let us charge for issuing the names.  That was part of the deal, and we had no idea the thing would move the way it did.  When you hear it now it seems crazy but, yes, we actually gave away all those domains for free.  Had to.”

For help McHenry approached wealthy African-American’s for investment capital but was refused. McHenry tried financial institutions and Wall Street. Again he was turned down. McHenry got some help from a white fellow engineer but it simply was not enough. McHenry was being squeezed. The demand for domain names continued to explode while the government insisted if he could not keep up they would void the contract.

The financial squeeze came to a head in 1995 when McHenry sold Network Solutions to Science Applications International Corp (SAIC) for $4.8 million. Suddenly, within months, the government gave SAIC the rights to charge $70.00 per year for each domain name. In addition the company received a royalty on any other created domain names. This was the exact same request McHenry made of the government.

Literally millions of people and companies were requesting domain names. As a result a bidding war started for SAIC which was swimming in cash. The big winner was a company called VeriSign Inc. Within a year SAIC turned its $4.8 million purchase of Network Solutions into a $21 billion windfall.

Today Emmit McHenry is founder and CEO of NetCom Solutions International, Inc. a telecommunications, engineering, consulting, and technical services company. The company has received awards from IBM, NASA and Lucent Technologies. It has revenues of $260 million and over 200 employees in Chantilly, Virginia and Oklahoma City. 

McHenry is not bitter about his .com experience. “We misjudged the fact that demand would drive the telecom infrastructure,” says McHenry. “But I don’t regret anything. We spent a lot of time being engineering purists and we didn’t focus on the capitalist potential.” Still, McHenry insists, “a man should never regret selling at a profit.”

Earl Brotten, a close friend of McHenry who also works at NetCom Solutions, has heard McHenry whisper; “I coulda been a billionaire.”

Now you know

 

 

Roy Clay Sr., The Godfather of Silicon Valley

Roy Clay Sr. Technology Pioneer

Black History Month is a celebration. The month is dedicated to the abilities and accomplishments of African-Americans. It also speaks to the determination of black people to be part of American greatness even in the face of racism. 

The African-American Cyber Report is about technology and black people. We cannot put the words African-American and technology together without speaking the name Roy Clay Sr.

Roy Clay Sr. is known as the Godfather of Silicon Valley. Mr.Clay was at the cutting edge of computing and technology before Microsoft and Apple were ever dreamed of.

Born in Kinloch, Missouri Clay lived in a home with no indoor plumbing, his neighborhood had no streetlights and black boys faced police harassment if found outside the small town after dark.

Clay was educated in the Ferguson, MO. school district. The same community where Michael Brown was killed by a police officer. Clay himself had unfortunate run ins with the police. But unlike many other young black boys before the civil rights era Clay was inspired rather than discouraged.

Speaking of his hometown Clay said; “Everybody cared.” Clay said his first teacher “inspired me to do well. By the time I left that little school, I thought I could learn to do anything.”

Clay went on to be the one of the first black men to attend Saint Louis University in 1946 when there was no such thing as computer science. He graduated in 1951 with a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics.

It was shortly after his graduation in 1951 that he was first introduced to computers. In those days computers often took up entire buildings, had to have carefully controlled environments and rarely ran long before crashing. Today’s technology was nothing more than science fiction.

In 1958, Clay found himself working as a computer programmer at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, now known as the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. His job was writing software that demonstrated how particles of radiation would spread through the atmosphere after an atomic explosion.

Clay was present at the birth of the technology industry in the U.S. Today the buzz word is code writing. Bot Clay was writing code even before the emergence of the civil rights era. In 1963 he was employed by Control Data Corporation working on a computer language known as Fortran. For us laymen Fortran is a general-purpose, imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing.

Word of Clay’s work got back to David Packard co-founder of Hewlett-Packard and in 1965 he recruited Clay to set up HP’s computer development business. Packard’s idea was to build computers that worked with other HP instrumentation products. Clay was vital to this effort because Packard knew almost nothing about software. 

“He trusted that to me,” Clay said.

HP 2116A “mini” computer

Clay led the team that brought HP’s computer, the 2116A, to market in 1966. He also wrote the software for the 2116A as well. That computer Clay and his colleagues designed was about the size of a typewriter. It not only reduced the size of the computer but improved its reliability.

But Clay was unconventional and his practices did not always sit well with the other half of HP, Bill Hewlett. He built an atmosphere around HP’s computer-development business that inspired creativity. His  staff would start the day by playing golf at sunrise and would often not get to the office before 9:00 am.

Hewlett, not pleased with Clay’s methods,  said to Clay, “That’s not the HP way.” That attitude changed when Hewlett discovered Clay’s team still working away at 10 p.m. on a Saturday when he called for help with his computer.

Clay was a vital piece to the rise of HP to technology prominence.  He established the software development facility, managed the computer division and guided the companies emergence as an HP Computer company. Clay became the highest-ranking African American at HP. 

The computer industry began to emerge and its home was the northern California region that became know as the Silicon Valley. Roy Clay Sr., because of his work, became known as the Godfather of Silicone Valley. His work in the computer field caused an industry to grow. When industry grows so do the investments in that industry. Clay was the guiding hand behind the technology  investments made by capital investor group  Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers . The group invested in Tandem Computers, Compaq Computers and Intel Corporation. Today Intel corporation is the leading maker of computer chips for just about every computing device you can buy. In 2013 Intel reported over $52.7 billion in revenue.

In the mid-1970’s, Clay discovered that Underwriters Laboratories was going to require a safety test on electrical products to ensure that they wouldn’t shock or cause a fire. Clay was an entrepreneur and he formed his own company, Rod-L Electronics. Clay could very well be one of Silicon Valley’s first technology start ups.

At Rod-L he invented the first electronic equipment safety testing device to be certified by Underwriters Laboratory (UL).  Clay soon partnered with his former employer HP as well as IBM, AT&T and Xerox. His ROD-L tester was soon found on each company’s computer production line. The ROD-L sticker  was found on these companies computer products as evidence that they were certified by UL. According to Clay, “If it didn’t have Rod-L on that rear panel, it meant it was not a real IBM computer.” The Rod-L tester is still the standard today.

Clay also focused his intellect and leadership abilities on local politics by serving as the first African-American on the Palo Alto, California City Council in 1973. Palo Alto, in the heart of the Silicon Valley, is home to Stanford University as well as Hewlett-Packard. He also served as the city’s vice-mayor.

Clay was motivated to action by the Nixon administration policy proposal of “benign neglect.” This policy was aimed at urban African-American communities and designed to withhold resources from these neighborhoods. Clay’s response was to organize networking events for Black technology workers. He believed, “The way to get through “benign neglect ‘was to get African-Americans in positions to do things so we can get others in positions to do things.”

But with so much accomplished in his life Clay has to be introspective.  Clay grew up in the community of Kinloch, Missouri next door to Ferguson where Micheal Brown was killed by a police officer. Clay had his own incident with police when he was young and was told by the police; ” “Nigger, don’t let me catch you again in Ferguson.” Clay’s mother told him after the incident, “You will experience racism for the rest of your life, but don’t ever let that be a reason why you don’t succeed.”

Clay’s mother was prophetic and he took it to heart. Clay’s first attempt to find employment after college was at McDonnell Aircraft. Not knowing he was a black man Clay was invited to interview for a position with the company.  Once they got a look at him he was told “Mr. Clay, we are very sorry but we have no jobs for professional Negros.” Clay would not be defeated and five years later he was hired for the job.

In 2003 he was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Council’s Hall of Fame. Mr. Clay was honored for his pioneering professional accomplishments alongside his former employers Bill Hewlett and David Packard of HP and Robert Noyce the co-founder of Intel.

Today Roy Clay Sr. still lives in Palo Alto and is CEO of Rod-L Electronics.

Now you know.