TECH: 20 Millennial Innovators of Color You Should Know

(photo credit: Culture Shift Labs)

by Kunbi Tinoye via urbangeekz.com

It’s common knowledge that the tech industry has a diversity problem. Employee demographics clearly show a dearth of women and untapped minorities in the leading technology firms. Then when black and Latinx founders do decide to start businesses of their own they often struggle to raise capital. Research by the #ProjectDiane, for example, reveals African-American female founders raised a mere 0.2 percent of venture funding from 2012-2014. With that being said, there are many young and talented innovators and entrepreneurs of color making waves.

Last month a handful of these trailblazers attended the Culture Shifting Weekend‘s ‘Millennial Breakfast’ at SAP in Palo Alto. Founders were given a platform to talk about their startups to a room full of industry heavyweights. The mission is simple. Create a safe space for diverse talent to secure support, expertise, and partnerships with key players in the tech ecosystem. Co-founder and CEO of On Second Thought, Maci Peterson, at the Culture Shifting Weekend. Peterson was just one of the founders who presented her startup at Millennial Breakfast.

Lloyd Carney, CEO of Brocade Communications Systems, was just one of the influencers in attendance. Carney, a Jamaican immigrant, recently sold his company for $5.5 billion. Other attendees included Danny Allen, VP Diversity & Inclusion, SAP; Jacqueline Jones, Strategic Partnerships, Global Inclusion, LinkedIn; and Rachel Spivey, Diversity Specialist, Google, among others.“I added an element to the event,” said Andrea Hoffman, CEO of the management consultancy Culture Shift Labs, who organized the annual Silicon Valley event.

“We had a Millennial Tech Entrepreneurs and Influencers Breakfast that was sponsored by Vista Equity Partners. It was an experiment and it went really well. There’s more to come from in terms of millennial tech entrepreneurs of color.”From software to recruitment, check out this list of 20 black and brown millennial innovators and founders who all presented their startups (except two bonuses #19 and #20) at the Millennial Breakfast.

1. Stephanie Lampkin – Blendoor

Stephanie Lampkin is a TEDx speaker and founder & CEO of Blendoor, a recruiting application that reduces unconscious bias in hiring. With a 14-year professional career in tech, she is all too familiar with the difficulties faced when one doesn’t look like the typical software engineer. Through technology and data, her mission is to reduce bias and challenge the assumption that homogeneous environments are a meritocracy. Stephanie holds a BS in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford University and an MBA from MIT Sloan.

2. Harold Hughes – Bandwagon

Harold is the founder & CEO of Bandwagon, an online marketplace and fan community designed to improve the game day experience for sports fans everywhere. As a leader in the growing startup community in Greenville, South Carolina, he is the co-managing Director of Collective: a coworking space for small teams and entrepreneurs. He is also Director of the Founder Institute-Greenville chapter, a member of NEXT, and involved in the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. He recently participated in the Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange Program in Durham, NC. Continue reading

Landmark Civil Rights Documentary “Eyes on the Prize, Parts I and II” Starts Re-airing Tonight at 9pmEST on WORLD Channel

1866f2f9-89fb-4e0f-a33a-248712672b02

Public television’s WORLD Channel will present the complete Emmy-Award winning Eyes on the Prize I and II starting tonight, January 17, 2016. A 30-minute special feature, Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, will launch the encore presentation of this historic two-part series and explore its impressive relevance today.

Eyes on the Prize, created by Executive Producer Henry Hampton, is a critically-acclaimed and in-depth documentary series on civil rights in America.  With the current national spotlight on issues of race and inequality—as well as the marking of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott—the time is right for this series about the nation’s civil rights history to be front and center as part of an essential dialogue.

America continues to struggle with the recurring crisis of race-related violence; Eyes on the Prize and II can provide perspective for a new generation and be a touchstone for citizens who lived through the decades that the films depict. Journalist and writer Al Letson hosts new introductions to each episode.

“We are elated that this landmark series will once again be broadcast across the country, reaching millions of viewers—many of whom may never have seen the original airing. The series focuses on solutions to the conflicts that we face today.  Eyes on the Prize shows leadership, grass roots organization and personal sacrifice as the recipe that can create lasting change.  It is our hope the television programs together with our comprehensive outreach campaign will spark a national dialogue about this critical topic,” says Judi Hampton, president of Blackside, and sister of the late Henry Hampton (1940-1998).

4e72d076-51be-4e60-a279-a71fc2b99a7b

The WORLD Channel presentation, made possible with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Ford Foundation, includes Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, a new, original 30-minute special, which will lead into the premiere January 17 of Eyes on the Prize, setting the groundbreaking documentary series in the context of today.  Narrated by music artist Aloe BlaccEyes on the Prize: Then and Now features Eyes on the Prize filmmakers, present-day activists, human rights leaders, and scholars. The special revisits key historical moments and explores commonalities with current national events.

“The WORLD Channel is honored to be presenting this signature series,” says Chris Hastings, Executive Producer of the WORLD Channel. “It’s a history that must be understood.  With Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, we ask questions and draw comparisons about the struggle to achieve equality today. As conflicts and challenges continue, Eyes on the Prize remains essential viewing for all Americans.”

As part of the initiative, WGBH Education is developing a digital resource collection supporting Eyes on the Prize and civil rights themes in history and social studies curricula, to help the civil rights movement come alive for students today. This collection will be available on PBS LearningMedia in January.

Based at WGBH Boston, the national public media producer, WORLD Channel delivers the best of public television’s original documentary films and news to US audiences through local public television stations, including America ReFramed, AfroPopPOV and Local, USA.  The special Eyes on the Prize presentation also will be made available to all public television stations for local broadcasts (check listings) after the WORLD premiere.

EYES ON THE PRIZE I and II

Almost three decades since its premiere, the groundbreaking series Eyes on the Prize I and II will return to PBS this January.  Eyes on the Prize I will premiere on The WORLD Channel six consecutive Sundays – January 17, 24, 31 and February 7, 14, 21 at 9:00 p.m. (EST). Eyes on the Prize II will air eight consecutive Sundays—February 28, March 6, 13, 20, 27, and April 3, 10, 17 at 9:00 p.m. (EST).

Produced by Blackside, Eyes on the Prize tells the definitive story of the Civil Rights era from the point of view of the ordinary men and women whose extraordinary actions launched a movement that changed the fabric of American life and embodied a struggle whose reverberations continue to be felt today.  This multi-part Academy Award nominated documentary is the winner of numerous Emmy Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award, an International Documentary Association Award, and a Television Critics Association Award.

Through contemporary interviews and historical footage, Eyes on the Prize I and II, traces the civil rights movement from the Montgomery bus boycott to the Voting Rights Act; from early acts of individual courage through the flowering of a mass movement and its eventual split into factions.  The late Julian Bond, political leader and civil rights activist, narrates.  Descriptions of each episode follow below:

Continue reading

Alicia Keys, John Legend, Pharrell and Others Perform at “Shining A Light: Concert For Progress on Race in America” Airing Tonight on A+E Networks & Several Others

John Legend at "Shining A Light" Concert

John Legend at “Shining A Light” Concert

A+E Networks and iHeartMedia are simultaneously airing “Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America” on Friday, November 20 at 8PM ET/PT.  The sold-out concert was recorded at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA on Wednesday, November 18th, and the two-hour special event will air across the entire A+E Networks portfolio in more than 130 territories globally, including A&E, HISTORY, Lifetime, H2, LMN and FYI, as well as on more than 130 iHeartMedia broadcast radio stations nationwide and the iHeartRadio digital platform.  Additionally, AOL has joined in the simulcast making the historic special event available to anyone with internet access across the globe on AOL.com.

Artists Aloe Blacc, Andra Day, Nick Jonas, Tom Morello, Smokey Robinson and Big Sean join the previously announced performers including Zac Brown Band, Eric Church, Jamie Foxx, Rhiannon Giddens, Tori Kelly, John Legend, Miguel, Pink, Jill Scott, Ed Sheeran, Sia, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Pharrell WilliamsLL Cool J, Marshall Faulk, Morgan Freeman, George Lopez, Mario Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Kurt Warner and Nick Young are among the presenters joining the telecast.

Alicia Keys has joined John Legend and Pharrell on extraordinary journeys to Baltimore, Ferguson and Charleston, where they met with a diverse group of residents in communities at the center of the national conversation on racial inequality and violence.  Joined by NPR’s Michele Norris with John Legend in Ferguson, award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien with Pharrell Williams in Charleston and ABC News’ Byron Pitts in Baltimore, these visits included intimate discussions and special private performances by each for those most effected.  These incredibly moving, heart wrenching and eye-opening moments will be featured throughout the two-hour concert, as well as in the one-hour special, “Shining a Light: Conversations on Race in America,” airing immediately following the concert on A&E Network and AOL.com at 10pm ET/PT.

To see Alicia Keys perform Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We Will All Be Free”, watch below:

The concert will kick off A+E Networks’ campaign to confront issues of race, and promote unity and progress on racial equity, inspired by the response of the Mother Emanuel family members in Charleston and others working for reconciliation and change around the country.

The concert and the ancillary programming will help raise money for the Fund for Progress on Race in America powered by United Way Worldwide (ShiningALightConcert.com).  The fund will provide grant funding to individuals and organizations fostering understanding, eliminating bias, as well as provide support to Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church and the broader A.M.E. denomination. The fund will support efforts to address racism and bias through public policy change, individual innovation, and community mobilization.

Tickets for the concert on November 18 sold out within 3 hours of the on-sale date raising more than $150,000 to benefit the Fund for Progress on Race in America powered by The United Way Worldwide.

To see a clip of John Legend’s performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” from the event, watch below:

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Jon Platt Named CEO of Warner/Chappell Music

Jon Platt 2015

Jon Platt speaks onstage at the 2015 SESAC Pop Music Awards at New York Public Library on May 4, 2015 in New York City. (Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for SESAC) 

Jon Platt will lead Warner/Chappell Music going forward.  As part of a transition plan, Platt, who joined Warner/Chappell in 2012, will be promoted to the company’s CEO on Nov. 1 from his current position as president, North America. Subsequently, in May 2016 (most likely when Cameron Strang’s contract ends), Cameron Strang, currently chairman & CEO, will step down to devote his full focus to serving as chairman & CEO of Warner Bros. Records.

Platt is known for being a doubled-edged sword, having great creative skills combined with top-notch leadership. On the creative side, he has helped attract such artists and songwriters as Jay Z, BeyoncéVance Joy and Echosmith to Warner/Chappell.

“Jon has a deep understanding of the creative process, an outstanding devotion to songs and songwriters, and an innate ability to nurture the next generation of talented publishing executives,” Warner Music Group CEO Steve Cooper said in a statement. “His combination of artistic sensibility and commercial savvy is very rare, and is clearly why so many of the world’s greatest songwriters want him as their partner and champion.” Cooper added that Platt will enhance Warner/Chappell’s “position” as the best home for songwiters.

Over the last five years, Warner/Chappell’s revenues have steadily declined, from $582 million for the year ended Sept. 30, 2009 to $503 million for the year ended Sept. 30, 2013, before rebounding last year to $517 million. In the first nine months of this year, Warner/Chappell revenue stands at $359 million, down from $387 million, or 7.2 percent.

Platt’s ability to attract top flight songwriters should help boost the company’s bottom line. Over the last several years, Warner/Chappell has added such songwriters as Pharrell Williams’ pre-2010 repertoire, Taio Cruz, Aloe Blacc, Sean Douglas, Belly, Mano, Julia Michaels, Steve Kipner, Nico & Vinz, Slash, Dave Mustaine, Mike WiLL Made It, Lady Antebellum, Liz Rose, and Lee Miller, as well as the Roc Nation publishing catalog.

“Ever since Jon came on board in 2012, he has played a pivotal role in our success story, making enormous contributions to the company’s rapid development,” Strang said in a statement.”Warner/Chappell is now ready for the next phase of its ongoing evolution, and Jon is exactly the right executive for the job. He is a force of nature: a brilliant creative collaborator; a principled leader; and an inspiring mentor. He will be a terrific CEO, as he brings his dynamism and expertise to our songwriters, teams and business around the world.”

Cooper added that “with a smooth transition underway at Warner/Chappell, Cameron will lead our plan to build on [Warner Bros. Records] existing success, turbocharge its long-term growth and deepen our commitment to A&R and artist development.”

Prior to joining Warner/Chappell Platt, who received SESAC’s Visionary Award in May, spent 17 years at EMI Music Publishing, where he signed an early-career Jay Z, Kanye West, Usher, Drake, Ludacris, Mary Mary, Young Jeezy, Fabolousand Snoop Dogg, according to Warner/Chappell’s announcement.

“Warner/Chappell is an iconic music company with an incomparable roster of extraordinary songwriters,” Platt said in a statement. “Our mission is to develop, grow, reward and sustain a prosperous and healthy creative community — the community of songwriters who make it possible for music to have such a special place in all of our lives. My vision for Warner/Chappell is one of peerless commitment to the songwriter and unmatched advocacy for the value of music.  I see us leading the industry in our service not only to our songwriters, but also to the partners and fans that help make their livelihoods possible.”

article by Ed Christman via billboard.com

D’Angelo, Ed Sheeran to Lead Bill Withers Tribute at Carnegie Hall on October 1st

Ed Sheeran and D'Angelo

D’Angelo, Ed Sheeran and Sheryl Crow top the initial lineup for “Lean on Him,” an upcoming tribute concert to Bill Withers at Carnegie Hall (Photos: Dave J Hogan/Getty; Paras Griffin/Getty)

D’Angelo, Ed Sheeran, Ledisi and Aloe Blacc are among the artists who will help welcome Bill Withers back to Carnegie Hall on October 1st and pay tribute to the soul musician, who was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The initial lineup for the show, aptly dubbed “Lean on Him,” boasts Sheryl Crow, Amos Lee, Michael McDonald, Dr. John, Keb’ Mo’, Gregory Porter and Kathy Mattea. More artists will be announced in the coming weeks.

Withers will make a rare public appearance at the show, which will find the cast of musicians recreating some of his best known hits and his classic 1973 LP, Live at Carnegie Hall, in its entirety. Greg Phillinganes — who has worked with Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson — will helm the show as house band leader and musical director.

General admission tickets for “Lean on Him” are currently available through the Carnegie Hall website, while VIP tickets can be purchased via MusicOf.org. While a run-of-the-mill VIP ticket runs $300, a backstage pass is available for $2,000, and a five-course wine-paired dinner with Withers, his wife Marcia and no more than 40 other ticket buyers costs $10,000.

All net profits from the concert will benefit the Stuttering Association for the Young, an organization close to Withers, who has stuttered since childhood.

“Lean on Him” is the brainchild of City Winery and Knitting Factory founder Michael Dorf, who, over the past several years, has produced a slew of notable charity tribute concerts at Carnegie Hall. Earlier this year, the Roots, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Rufus Wainwright and more paid tribute to David Byrne and the Talking Heads; previous concerts have honored Prince, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Neil YoungR.E.M., the Who, the Rolling Stones and Paul Simon.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/dangelo-ed-sheeran-to-lead-bill-withers-tribute-at-carnegie-hall-20150803#ixzz3hnoveD00 

Snoop Dogg, Bobby Wagner, Matt Barnes and Others Declare #ImUnloading Against Gun Violence with 401K Divestment Movement (VIDEO)

Snoop Dogg, Matt Barnes

Snoop Dogg, NFL Star Bobby Wagner, NBA Star Matt Barnes and singer/songwriter Jhene Aiko support gun industry  divestment in #ImUnloading PSA

In a partnership between Unload Your 401k and anti-gun violence campaign, No Guns Allowed, entertainment icon Snoop Dogg and tech leader Ron Conway are joining forces to call for divestment from the gun industry. Through the surprising union, they are using #ImUnloading in a new Public Service Announcement to turn their pledge into reality, joined by athletes Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks and Matt Barnes of the Los Angeles Clippers; actress/singer Margot Bingham; singer/songwriter/producer Aloe Blacc; singer/songwriter Jhené Aiko; and League Of Young Voters’ Executive Director, Dr. Rob Biko Baker.

Gun Violence is an epidemic, with 20 children every day admitted to hospitals with gunshot wounds.  In an effort to create change, Conway is calling on the C-Suite of tech companies to offer socially-responsible, “no guns allowed” investment options, and Snoop Dogg is enlisting the support of the entertainment industry and his fans to declare #ImUnloading in the name of those touched by the tragedy of gun violence.

“I’m unloading for my loved ones that I’ve lost,” Snoop Dogg said. “I’m going all in for gun-free investing.”

The PSA, from Campaign to Unload and States United to Prevent Gun Violence, is the second installment of support for Unload Your 401k, a program designed to raise awareness of divestment as a unique and powerful strategy to help make a meaningful change in preventing gun violence.

“There is a straight line from gun industry investment, to gun industry profits, to funding of the NRA. Half the value of these companies comes from mutual funds and most of the ‘investors’ in these funds have no idea they are inadvertently part of the problem. Now they can be part of the solution,” said Jennifer Fiore, executive director of Campaign to Unload.

“Greedy gun corporations are benefitting from the pain in our community,” said Baker. “It’s important that we vote with our money.”

UnloadYour401k.com offers visitors an easy way to look-up their 401k retirement plan to see if it is supporting the gun industry and its lobbying group, the National Rifle Association.  Employees now have the tools available to get their money out of gun investments.

“It is long past time for government to act to reduce the epidemic of gun violence in America, but it is also long past time when we can believe that they will,” said Julia Wyman, executive director of States United. “Americans want change and thanks to our partners in this effort, more Americans will be aware of their economic power to take power into their own hands.”

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Octavia Spencer, Aloe Blacc Help Raise $1.5M for City Year Schools Program

city-year-octavia-spencer

(Pictured: Nolan A. Sotillo and Octavia Spencer with a City Year AmeriCorps member; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

According to Variety.com, more than 1,400 guests at the 4th Annual Spring Break: Destination Education fundraiser held at Sony Studios on Saturday helped raised $1.5 million.  The money benefits City Year, an organization that strives to keep kids in high school until they graduate.

“I love the idea of kids helping kids and these young ambassadors are saying, ‘Hey, look I’ve been through it, I made it through it, you can, too,’” said Academy Award-winner Octavia Spencer, who is involved with the program. “I think it is a tragedy the number of kids that don’t make it to graduation.”

Spencer said she has visited some of the 22 schools that the program reaches in Los Angeles and loves the work they’re doing. “Education unlocks the keys to all of life’s doors. You don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to be of a name, you just have to have that foundation. It’s all about giving kids that foundation,” she said.

The packed event featured games for kids and adults, including an E! News booth contest trying to win the opportunity to introduce musical guest Aloe Blacc who performed later in the evening.

Others showing their support included: Aaron Paul, Betsy Brandt, Diego Boneta, Jason Bateman, Jenna Elfman, Minnie Driver, Sean Hayes, Timothy Olyphant and Usher.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson