Tag Archives: Silicon Valley

Tech Diversity Still a Struggle

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) payed another visit to Silicon Valley last week with the intent of holding tech companies feet to the fire for more diversity. Apple, PayPal, Twitter, Square, and Airbnb were on the schedule. The CBC has made this trip twice before but this time they expanded the number of members on the trip to include Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).

Waters said during a panel discussion at Lyft,  “I’m not urging, I’m not encouraging. I’m about to hit some people across the head with a hammer.” Waters, referred by some CBC members as the “The Enforcer”  said, “I’m talking about some regulation. I’m talking about using the power that our voters have given us to produce legislation and to talk about regulation in these industries that have not been talked about before.”  Waters threat can only be considered valid if the Democrats regain control of the House and Senate in November.

Diversity numbers for tech companies are stagnant at best. But some companies have shown improvement. Uber showed that its corporate workforce (excluding drivers and support contractors) consisted of 2.6 percent black employees in 2018, up from just 1 percent in 2017. Twitter reported having 3.4 percent black employees in 2017, compared to 3 percent in 2016.

But Uber’s Chief Brand Officer, Bozoma Saint John, believes the key to diversity in the tech sector is held by white men. Saint John believes it is up to “white men to look around in their office and say, ‘Oh look, there’s a lot of white men here. Let’s change this.'”

According to CNN Saint John asked; “Why do I, as the black woman, have to fix that?There’s 50 of you, there’s one of me…I want white men to make the noise.” Saint John labeled the idea that diversity problems are rooted in a lack of suitable female and minority job candidates as “bullshit.” She believes the problem lies with hiring practices that favors what is comfortable to those doing the hiring.  In January Uber hired its first Chief Diversity Officer, Bo Young Lee.

The CBC also made other requests of Silicon Valley companies during the visit. In addition to the demand for more diversity the CBC asked that tech companies help fund more affordable housing for communities in need and combat the impact of gentrification. Other legislation the group is also considering includes the Community Reinvestment Act requiring financial institutions to meet the needs of the low-income communities. CBC members are also raising money to assist girls, people of color, and the poor receive STEM educations. 

Breaking It Down

Although I applaud the efforts of the CBC to improve diversity I don’t believe this is the right way to do it. Threats are not going to change a lot in this situation. Especially threats that are toothless unless the Democrats flip Congress.

If blacks and people of color are to make gains in tech employment we need to focus on creating a rich pipeline of candidates. Yes, there are plenty of talented black software engineers and project managers in the job market. But we need to incorporate Silicon Valley companies into the education process. I would urge Rep. Waters to introduce legislation that would benefit tech companies who invest in black campuses as teachers. Encourage them to create programs that move a talented student of color progressively from the classroom to an internship and eventually full time employment. Find a way to gently conjole these companies into recruiting and training capable candidates for jobs that may not have considered.

My anger with this issue, and I have said this before, is that major sports companies can go into the worst schools in the nation and select the next great linebacker or point guard. But tech companies ignore this business model. Its right before their eyes and yet they remain blind. Rep. Waters, if you read this, that is where you need to be. Don’t threaten them but show them the way.

 

 

 

Kenneth Chenault Joins Facebook

Kenneth Chenault

American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault has joined Facebook as its first African-American Board member. Chenault will officially join Facebook on February 5th after 16 years as AmEx CEO. 

Chenault, described by the Wall Street Journal as “one of the country’s most prominent African-American corporate leaders,” will become the first non-white member of Facebook’s board of directors. 

This move by Facebook is an effort  to address the diversity issues that face Silicon Valley. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer told the Congressional Black Caucus in October that Facebook would hire a black board member “in the foreseeable future.” 

Chenault has been a recruiting target for Facebook years according to Mark Zuckerberg. In a Facebook post Zuckerberg wrote, “I’ve been trying to recruit Ken for years. He has unique expertise in areas I believe Facebook needs to learn and improve, customer service, direct commerce, and building a trusted brand. Ken also has a strong sense of social mission and the perspective that comes from running an important public company for decades.”

Facebook, the worlds largest social network, is fighting to clean up its image when it comes to race. The company has faced withering criticism around its ethnic affinity marketing technology that allowed marketers to exclude minorities from ads related to housing. It is unclear how the Chenault hiring will impact this area.

 

 

Net Neutrality: The War is Not Over!

The war for net neutrality is not over. Far from it, it’s just beginning. The latest move by the FCC, headed by Ajit Pai, is just the latest battle in a war that will eventually end up in the Supreme Court.

Pai and Republican members of the FCC voted to repeal Obama era rules meant to keep the Internet free and open to all. This is a critical moment in the history of the Internet.  The commoditization of information has taken a step forward. Pai and other pro-business Republicans claim the Obama administration had hijacked the Internet hindering innovation. The new FCC rules mean what you can access now depends how how much Internet you can afford. But defenders of the open Internet have taken up the call for battle.

States get involved.

Already one state has begun to fight for net neutrality within its borders. California, the home of Silicon Valley, has begun the process to enforce in-state net neutrality. State Senator Scott Wiener announced plans to introduce California’s own net neutrality rules. Wiener is considering the best regulatory options with plans to introduce a law early next year. Wiener wrote in Hackernoon, “By repealing net neutrality requirements, the Trump-controlled FCC is allowing Internet service providers to decide which websites will be easily accessible and which won’t. Providers are now free to manipulate web traffic on their networks, which means they can speed up or slow down traffic to certain sites and even block access.”

Weiner is contemplating requiring cable companies to accept state net neutrality laws as part of their agreement for doing business in California. California is one the world’s biggest economies and his action, if passed in a powerfully Democratic state, would force ISPs to accept net neutrality laws.

New York is also joining the battle. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced that he will sue the FCC to stop the new net neutrality laws. Schneiderman tweeted; “ll be leading a multi-state lawsuit bringing the resources of AGs across the country to bear in the fight to protect the Internet and the millions of Americans who rely on it.”

It’s unknown how many other states will be joining Schneiderman but several states joined a letter calling for a delay of the vote due to evidence of fake comments during the public feedback process. That letter included the signatures of 18 attorneys general from the states of Virginia, Delaware, Hawaii, California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, Oregon, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Washington, Vermont and the District of Columbia. Schneiderman says he is expecting others to join that group.

Congress may act.

Member of congress could take action as well to stop the rule change. Under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), Congress is empowered to issue a resolution of disapproval that overrules the FCC’s decision. But don’t expect that to happen quickly if at all. The CRA only gives Congress a 60 day window in which to act. Any action must have presidential support or backing from two-thirds of the House and Senate. That has yet to be seen and Trump can’t decide if he likes net neutrality or not.

Democratic legislators Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusettes  and Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania have introduced a resolution of disapproval after the FCC vote. Markey has already followed through with the support of 17 other Senators. Doyle said in statement, “I’ve tried repeatedly to convince Chairman Pai to abandon his plans to dismantle the Open Internet Order, most recently by organizing a letter from 118 Members of Congress urging him not to take this vote. And now that the FCC has voted to kill net neutrality and give ISPs a green light to control access to the Internet, I will introduce legislation under the Congressional Review Act to overturn the order and restore net neutrality.”

Doyle is not the only member of Congress that Pai simply ignored before voting to repeal net neutrality. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Angus King, an Independent also from Maine  sent a last-minute letter asking Pai to cancel the net neutrality vote. “Repealing the FCC’s net neutrality rules will undermine long-standing protections that that have ensured the open internet as a powerful and transformative platform of innovation and economic opportunity,” they wrote. “We respectfully ask that the commission cancel the vote on the proposed order as scheduled and give Congress and the FCC the time to hold public hearings in 2018.” As you know Pai went ahead with the vote.

Not all Republicans are on board with the new net neutrality rules. Of the 239 Republicans in the House 107 have voiced their support for ending net neutrality. The position of the remaining members is not currently known. Some Republican lawmakers have been critical about the FCC’s process without specifically calling for a delay. Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota believes net neutrality belongs in the hands of lawmakers, not the FCC.

Next Battle Field: The Courts.

This battle is headed for the courts. Several advocacy groups, lacking faith in a Republican controlled Congress, are plotting their strategies to take on Pai and the FCC.

Critics claim they have a number of reasons to sue. These groups may argue that because the rule change comes only two years after Obama put them in place the decision is arbitrary.

Supporters of net neutrality are also arguing that ISPs should continue to be treated as Internet pipes or conduit that only carry data. This data includes movies and videos from major content providers like Netflix and Facebook updates. Advocates also argue that the FCC is wrong to categorize ISPs as as content providers, which are far less regulated. At least three public interest groups, Public Knowledge, Common Cause and FreePress are preparing to sue.

The Internet Association, a trade group and that counts Alphabet Inc., parent company of Google, Facebook Inc., and Pandora Media Inc. as members said it was reviewing Pai’s order “and weighing our legal options.”

Senior Vice President of Public Knowledge Harold Feld argues that Pai’s plan to re-categorize ISPs from common carriers, regulated as a public utility, to more lightly regulated “information services” will fail in court. Feld believes that the primary role of ISPs is delivering content. As carriers of data they are not offering email or online storage.”Their description of how the Internet service provider works is …. not true,” said Feld.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple’s Diversity Chief Departs After Just Six Months

Denise Young Smith

Denise Young Smith, a 20 year Apple veteran, is departing her job as the first Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion after just six months. Smith has announced she will be accepting a position as executive in residence at Cornell Tech in January.

Smith’s departure was planned but comes on the heels of a controversial comment made in October.  Smith was speaking on a diversity and racial injustice panel at the One Young World Summit in Bogotá, Colombia. She was asked by Quartz’s moderator Aamna Mohdin  if she would focus on any specific group in her diversity efforts. Her reply was not well received. Smith said she wouldn’t single out any one demographic for advancement. Her comment, transcribed by TechCrunch is as follows;

“I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color or the women or the LGBT or whatever because that means they’re carrying that around… because that means that we are carrying that around on our foreheads. And I’ve often told people a story—there can be 12 white blue-eyed blonde men in a room and they are going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation. The issue is representation and mix and bringing all the voices into the room that can contribute to the outcome of any situation.”

Silicon Valley has a serious diversity problem and Apple is not immune. Apple’s workforce numbers show that only 9 percent of Apple’s workforce is African-American, 12 percent Hispanic, 19 percent Asian and 56 percent white. It’s not a pretty picture when you consider that most non-white employees are found in  Apple’s retail stores. Smith was expected to at least make progress on the issue but not a lot has changed. However, she was working on developing Apple’s diversity scholarship program.

Realizing she had fumbled the issue Smith emailed her team following the comments;

Colleagues,

I have always been proud to work for Apple in large part because of our steadfast commitment to creating an inclusive culture. We are also committed to having the most diverse workforce and our work in this area has never been more important. In fact, I have dedicated my twenty years at Apple to fostering and promoting opportunity and access for women, people of color and the underserved and unheard. 

Last week, while attending a summit in Bogota, I made some comments as part of a conversation on the many factors that contribute to diversity and inclusion. 

I regret the choice of words I used to make this point. I understand why some people took offense. My comments were not representative of how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it. For that, I’m sorry. 

More importantly, I want to assure you Apple’s view and our dedication to diversity has not changed.  

Understanding that diversity includes women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and all underrepresented minorities is at the heart of our work to create an environment that is inclusive of everyone. 

Our commitment at Apple to increasing racial and gender diversity is as strong as it’s ever been. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, but there is much work to be done. I’m continually reminded of the importance of talking about these issues and learning from each other. 

Best,

Denise

Breaking It Down

This was  a sad day for the idea of diversity in Silicon Valley. People of color thought Apple had appointed a warrior to fight the diversity fight. Perhaps they did. Perhaps Smith misspoke. People do that. But her statement reveals how severe the diversity problem is in Silicon Valley boardrooms. A boardroom that she was apart of. Did she feel not focusing on a single group was an effective strategy? Again, perhaps. But diversity is about bringing in different colors of skin as well as ideas. Its about inclusion. I believe her when she said she believes in that. What she failed to realize is that ‘blue eyed blond white men” are not what her job asked her to bring in. This is just not what diversity advocates want to hear from a person in her position. Wrong choice of words Ms. Smith but lets move on. Smith is a women. A black women. A successful black women. A successful black woman at the world’s most successful company. She was in a position to change things, to make difference, To find other women and minorities who are as capable as her and look like her. I’m not going to label her a failure. But she clearly stumbled.

 

 

Silicon Valley Responds to Trump and Hate

Silicon Valley, the very heart and brain of the nation’s tech industry, is sending a strong message to both Donald Trump and white supremacist, NO!

Since the neo-nazi and alt-right demonstration in Charlottesville the nation has come to realization that hatred and bigotry is alive and well and supported from the highest office in the land. But tech companies are reacting to shut racist down

Apple CEO Tim Cook blasted Trump for his words supporting racist in an email to Apple employees. In the email cook said,  “I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights.” Cook continued on to say, “Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans.”

Cook announced that Apple will donate $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League.

Cook and Trump have locked horns before over his immigration and climate change positions. At the same time Cook has been working to influence Trump’s policies on issues from tax reform to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

Apple has also shut down Apple Pay on all white supremacist websites selling clothing and accessories.

Google, the world’s largest and most powerful search engine acted quickly to cancel the Daily Stormer neo-nazi website’s domain registration. Google acted in a mere 3 hours after it signed up. A Google spokesperson stated that the Daily Stormer was “violating our terms of service.” Web hosting service GoDaddy also rejected the neo-nazi website. GoDaddy tweeted that is giving the site 24 hours to move to another domain provider for violating of its terms and services.

White supremacist bands are also being silenced online. Billboard.com reported that Spotify is removing “hate rock” from its streaming service. Other tech companies and forums shutting racist out include Reddit which bans ban hate groups, gaming chat app Discord also shut down racist accounts and GoFundMe shut down a campaign to support the man accused of driving a car into protesters this weekend in Charlottesville killing one women and injuring 19 others.

PayPal all took steps to shut down white supremacist outlets and Twitter even suspended an account that provided updates for the site.

Other financial services companies are also rejecting hate group’s commerce en masse. Square, Visa and Discover Card have all stopped hate groups from using their service to accept payments. Other companies rejecting neo-nazi activity on their platforms include Cloudflare which stripped away the Daily Stormer security and protection against hackers

But can all this action to shut down hate really make a difference? Some believe that hatred will survive online regardless. Neo-Nazi and hate groups have already moved onto the dark web according to news accounts. In the debate on racism, hate and the groups that support it some believe that sending these groups underground is counter-productive. The argument is to keep these groups out in the open so they can be monitored closely. Others, including the ACLU, have argued in support of hate groups to express themselves freely. The ACLU was key in helping the neo-nazi demonstrators win a court battle for permission to carry out the Charlottesville march.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said in a statement that hateful and bigoted speech must be heard. “Racism and bigotry will not be eradicated if we merely force them underground,” Romero wrote. “Equality and justice will only be achieved if society looks such bigotry squarely in the eyes and renounces it.”

Facebook and Intel Report Diversity Improvement

Maxine Williams, Facebook’s Executive Diversity Chief

Facebook’s surprising diversity report showed marked improvement in hiring of women and minorities. While the report shows that Facebook is still overwhelmingly white and male the improvements show that Maxine Williams, Facebook’s Executive Diversity Chief, is having an effect on the company.   Facebook’s report revealed 35 percent of its staff  are women, up from 33 percent a year ago. The number of number of women in leadership positions is up a percent to 28 percent.

Even with these improvements retention of female employees in the tech sector is a another challenge. Women are leaving the industry after hire in the face or sexism and other bias. So these numbers for Facebook can only be considered an improvement if women stay on with the company.

The report shows an increase of Hispanic employees of 4 to 5 percent and African-Americans by 2 to 3 percent. However the guys at the top are still white men making up 71 percent of the company leadership. No change there.  The rest of the company leadership is held by Asians at 21 percent with other groups holding only 2 to 3 percent.

How is Williams making change happen? Along side the diversity report Williams blogged about initiatives she believes are improving Facebook’s hiring and workplace culture. She pointed out the  “Diverse Slate Approach,” which encourages consideration of applicants who don’t look like the hiring managers.  According to Williams Facebook has discovered that “the more people you interview who don’t look or think like you, the more likely you are to hire someone from a diverse background.”  Facebook’s “Managing Inclusion,” training program teaches managers to consider what issues affect under-represented groups.  Facebook believes that this training helps to build an understanding of how these employees or applicants arrived in tech the industry and what obstacles remain.

Williams believes Facebook is moving in the right direction but said, “We aren’t where we’d like to be.”

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich

Another major tech company is also touting its diversity improvements.  Intel has reported that its diversity program is actually two years ahead of schedule.  In a recent blog post Intel CEO Brian Krzanich claims Intel is two years ahead of its original diversity plan. “We set out to achieve by 2020 an inclusive workforce that reflects the diversity we see every day in the world around us,” he wrote. “Doing this would bring the number of female, Hispanic, African-American and Native American employees in Intel’s 50,000-strong U.S. workforce to full representation.” According to Krzanich the goal is now moved up to 2018.

Krzanich, in a stand against racism, resigned from President Trump’s American Manufacturing Council after comments the president made about the events in Charlottesville that one left one woman dead. According to Krzanich he wants to “…call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues…”

Intel’s mid-year report shows the company’s five-year plan is on track to bring full representation of  women, African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans in both technical and non-technical jobs. According to Intel full representation is defined as the “full market availability of women and underrepresented minorities.”

“In December of 2014, our gap to full representation was 2,300 employees. Today that gap has narrowed to 801 people, a 65 percent improvement, said Krzanich.

But like Facebook and other tech companies white and Asian men still represent  almost all top management positions. More than 90 percent of Intel’s mid to senior-level technical roles are white and Asian men.  Intel is also dealing with a retention problem with women and minorities. The company says it has added “diversity playbooks” and other programs to help managers hire and retain under-represented groups.

Although diversity in the tech sector is a real issue, and progress is epically slow, there is progress. According to workplace culture and company review platform Comparably  companies are doing better.

Comparably has come out with a list of the top ten companies that are doing better than most in the area of workplace diversity. The scores of these companies are on a 0-100 scale and based how female employees rate their experience at the company. The diversity score is based on how employees of color rate their experience at a company. Here is Comparably’s list for women.

For diversity

 

 

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – Kevin Hart, Lionel Richie

Comedian Kevin Hart in association with Lionsgate will launch a streaming comedy app entitledLaugh Out Loudon August 3rd. Content for the show appears to be plentiful with Hart’s comedy front and center. Among the shows planned are “Campus Law,” which places recent grads in security guard jobs at their alma mater.  Another sitcom planned for the service is “Dead House,” where a human joins a reality show alongside four zombies. Comedian Jo Koy will host a series that highlights viral pranks called “Inglorious Pranksters.”  Another show,”Black Geo,”  is a comedy series that satirically investigates the origins of black culture.

“Laugh Out Loud” will also offer all theDef Comedy Jam” seasons as well as standup sets from the comedy festivalJust for Laughs.” The service will also offer comedy from YouTube star GloZellVine stars King Bach and DC Young Fly, Emmanuel Hudson and MADtv performer Anjelah Johnson. Kevin Hart will have his own comedy series as Lyft driver using hidden cameras entitledKevin Hart-Lyft Legend.” In the show Hart plays old and hilarious Lyft driver Donald Mac. 

The ” Laugh Out Loud” app will be available on Apple and Android for free on August 3rd for $3 a month allowing users to stream shows ad-free. 

Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie with “Heal” Founder Nick Desai

Singer, song writer and all around music legend Lionel Richie has decided to invest in new health care appHeal.” Richie is no stranger to tech investing as he was an early investor in the software colossus Microsoft. Richie has turned his sites and money on the new start up to bring the kind of quality medical care he remembers to others.

A native of Tuskegee, AL, Richie said, “If you’re born and raised in Alabama in a small, tight-knit community, you know all the doctors, you know all the nurses… No one said meet me at the office at 8 o clock in the morning and wait.”

That’s what drew Richie to “Heal.” He believes this technology and new business model could return a degree of service that seems to have disappeared from American healthcare.

“Heal” is a doctor-on-demand service that provides personalized doctor visits booked through an app on a user’s phone for $99 per visit.

Speaking about his first meeting with “Heal” founder Nick Desai Richie said, “When I met with Nick, he said ‘Here’s the pitch: we want to bring back affordable healthcare with doctors coming to the house in less than two hours.’ I said… are you kidding me… from there it was pretty much a question of how he could he pull this off? And when I realized they had actually pulled off the logistics of it, that was it… It was pretty much what I love.”

Richie, like many celebrity tech investors, has taken the time to get to know some of technology’s most influential movers and shakers as friends. Richie counts both Yuri Milner and Elon Musk as friends. It was Milner who got the music legend involved in the start up world. 

“Yuri is my entrée,” said Richie. “Yuri is the one who got me with the bug… I find that when I speak to him he has one one more fascinating thing to tell me after another.”

Richie likes the the fact he does not have to leave L.A. to find tech investment opportunities. “Silicon Valley and its innovation is moving here. That innovation is a new wave of creativity. And I can’t help but want to be a part of that future, said Richie.

“Heal” is free and available for the Apple and Android devices.

Celebrity Cyber Report – Serena Williams, Wendy Williams and JayZ

Serena Williams

Serena Williams and SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie (Image courtesy of Recode)

Tennis superstar Serena Williams has taken on the challenge of diversity in the technology industry. Williams has joined the board of directors of SurveyMonkey along with Intuit CEO Brad Smith.  Williams says she wants to help solve the diversity problem in Silicon Valley.

SurveyMonkey employs about 650 workers. Women represent 27 percent of its technology jobs. Just 14 percent of its total payroll consists of African-Americans according to numbers the company provided.

“I feel like diversity is something I speak to,” Williams said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Change is always happening; change is always building. What is important to me is to be at the forefront of the change and to make it easier for the next person that comes behind me.”

Although Williams exact goals are not clear she feels that her presence on the board can help open up the valley to more diversity.

Williams is pregnant and engaged to technology entrepreneur, Alexis Ohanian co-founder of the online forum Reddit. Williams expressed her disappointment in the lack of diversity in high paying technology jobs.

SurveyMonkey, like many technology companies, are looking for a way to change the diversity equation. Williams’ appointment is part of the solution, according to SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie. “My focus is to bring in change agents around the table who can open our eyes,” he said.

Williams’ became linked to to SurveyMonkey through her friendship with Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, another member of SurveyMonkey’s board.

“I have been really interested in getting involved in Silicon Valley for years, so I have been kind of in the wading waters,” Williams said. “Now, I am jumping into the deep end of the pool. When I do something, I go all out.”

Wendy Williams

Day time talk show host Wendy Williams is reaching out to her audience using a new app. Williams just launched ‘Wendy Digitala new entertainment and lifestyle app. Williams is deploying the technology to strengthen her already powerful connection with her audience. 

‘Wendy Digital’ will allow her audience to get to know her better by extending the show to their smartphones and mobile devices increasing interactivity. The app will offer staples of her television show that includes the very popular Hot Topics. Fans will able to participate in the often saucy discussions. The app will also offer shopping from her HSN Collection and outfit of the day or “OOTD.” The ETrivia function permits her audience to test their celebrity knowledge and win prizes. Wendy is using the app to share a little of herself by offering ‘Suddenly Wendy” that gives her fans exclusive video and behind scenes  views of “Wendy’s World.” 

‘Wendy Digital’ is free and available for Apple and Android devices.

JayZ and Tidal

JayZ continues to struggle with his Tidal Music Streaming service. The company announced the loss of yet another CEO. Tidal confirmed that it had jettisoned its third CEO in two years, Jeff Toig. In a statement to Billboard.com  the company wrote, “As part of Tidal’s continued expansion this year we will be announcing a new CEO in the coming weeks. We wish Toig all the best in his future endeavors.”

Toig took the reigns of CEO in January 2016 during its rocky launch. Toig replaced Peter Tonstad who replaced Andy Chen.

JayZ purchased Aspiro a Swedish ­technology company and its Winamp ­streaming service in 2015 for $56 million dollars. He renamed it Tidal and added powerful music stars like his wife Beyonce, friend Kanye West, Daft Punk, Nicki Minaj, Prince and many others. All seeking a away to get their fair share of music streaming revenue.

However, Tidal has struggled in the highly competitive music streaming business. Most importantly Tidal has struggled to attract and hold paid subscribers. Tidal has an estimated one million paid users falling far behind streaming leaders Spotify, 50 million subscribers and Apple Music, 20 million subscribers.

Adding to JayZ’s headaches is a report from a Norwegian newspaper saying Tidal has been inflating subscriber numbers to the media, the public and investors.

 

Apple Diversity in the Hands of a Black Woman

Denise Young Smith

Apple has named Denise Young Smith, Apple’s Global Head of Human Resources  to Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. The newly created position will be responsible for opening up Apple’s work place to more women, minorities and the LGBTQ community.

Smith is a twenty year veteran of Apple and because of her new role will have direct access to Apple CEO Tim Cook who is also gay.

Apple’s latest diversity report reveals it’s workforce is 68 percent male and 56 percent white. Apple’s workforce breaks down as follows, 12 percent identify as Hispanic and only 9 percent as black or African-American. Smith’s primary challenge is to improve those numbers. As VP of diversity she will examine Apple’s hiring practices and culture with a focus on ensuring Apple is not losing potential employees early in the hiring process.

Smith’s job will not be easy. Silicon Valley tech companies are stubbornly white and male dominated. Diversity appears to be an intractable problem for many major technology companies. Human resource experts point to the talent pipeline and the lack of outreach to black colleges as one source of the diversity problem. Companies like Google have attacked this problem by bringing HBCUs into the fold. Google has recently teamed with Howard University to create Howard West on the Google campus.

Smith is a graduate of Grambling State University and previously headed up the global HR team. Smith also ran HR for Apple’s global retail operation.

Tech Jobs Underpay Black Women and Minorities

Unless you’re a white man working in the tech industry you can forget getting top pay. Hired.com recently published a study indicating that two out of three women working in the technology industry are paid less than men. That’s an improvement over last year when 69 percent of women were paid less compared to 63 percent this year.

But black women appear to be the hardest hit by pay disparities. According to the study African-American women make only 79 cents for every dollar a white man made. Black men made only 88 cents for every dollar paid to white counterparts. This pay gap can cost African-American tech workers as much as $10,000 a year in salary.

Because of the intense interest in increasing diversity in the tech industry blacks are 50 percent more likely to get hired but they are likely to be offered less pay. The study revealed Latino candidates are 26 percent less likely to get hired than a white candidate and Asians are 45 percent less likely. However they are still paid more than blacks but less than white hires. For example Latinos received only $5,000 less that white hires while Asians averages $2,000 less than whites.

Courtesy USAToday

Hired’s study revealed an interesting situation. The average white software engineer in San Francisco and New York asked for $126,000 in annual salary and usually recieved an average offer of $125,000. But blacks seem to be asking for less salary and getting it. Blacks in the San Francisco bay area/Silicon Valley asked for $115,000 and in New York $113,000.

Why are black technology workers asking for less money? According to the report’s author, Jessica Kirkpatrick, blacks maybe asking for less because people base their salary expectations on what they are currently earning. According to Kirkpatrick blacks lower expectations are a reflection of past salary history and being denied raises and promotions.

This pay disparity is not going unnoticed. Google is currently under scrutinity because of accusations that it is underpaying women.  Google recently announced on Equal Pay Day that it hadclosed the gender pay gap globally.But testimony from a Department of Labor official in federal court stated that Google systematically  discriminated against women. The official went on to say that Google’s discriminatory practices were “extreme” even for the tech industry. Google has been under pressure from the federal government to produce pay data to ensure the company is in compliance with anti-discrimination laws. Google has failed to produce the information so far and called the government request a “fishing expedition.”