Tag: blacks in technology

TECH: Award-Winning Journalist Kunbi Tinuoye Launches UrbanGeekz.com, Website for Underserved Minorities in Technology, Business and Science

UrbanGeekz CEO and Founder Kunbi Tinuoye (Photo: Jerome Dorn)
UrbanGeekz CEO and Founder Kunbi Tinuoye (Photo credit: Jerome Dorn)

Kunbi Tinuoye, former broadcast journalist and correspondent for the BBC, MSNBC and TheGrio.com, and current on-air contributor to Arise News’ business show Xchange, has recently launched UrbanGeekz.com, a groundbreaking digital news platform dedicated to African-Americans and other underrepresented minorities in technology, science and business. The site offers reviews, interviews, commentary, and original video on startups, geek gadgets, social media, scientific advancements, entrepreneurship and insight into Silicon Valley and the global technology industry. The cutting-edge online publication also provides authoritative lifestyle and entertainment content.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, UrbanGeekz.com, live only since February 9th of this year, has already partnered with telecom giant AT&T and Black Enterprise Magazine to provide content to and about the underserved communities in the tech space. The website also has created a much-needed outlet for dialogue on the most pressing and relevant issues in STEM-related fields: conversations surrounding the preparedness of students to pursue STEM careers, the lack of diversity in the STEM workforce and challenges facing minorities in the tech start-up scene.

Tinuoye, whose parents immigrated to the United Kingdom from Nigeria, was born, raised and educated in London.  She graduated from Cambridge University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social and Political Sciences and later received a post-graduate diploma in print journalism. She is also an NCTJ qualified UK professional journalist.

Tinuoye began her career writing for the prestigious London newspaper, the Evening Standard.  After stints there and with the BBC, she immigrated to the United States, settling in Atlanta and working for TheGrio.com and MSNBC as a journalist and on-air contributor.

logo_v5-2Good Black News recently caught up with Tinuoye and got a chance to talk to this ambitious and intelligent entrepreneur about her journey, why she started UrbanGeekz, and her visions for African-Americans in tech in the near future:

Good Black News:  What initially attracted you to journalism?

Kunbi Tinuoye:  I’m a communicator – that’s just the core of my personality – I’m a people person.  I’ve worked across most platforms, from television to print journalism.  I enjoy every aspect of the media industry.

Which aspect of journalism do you like the most?

I started as a writer.  Knowing how to write and tell a story is really the core.  I say to aspiring journalists, “Make sure you learn how to write,” because once you can put together a well-crafted sentence and get to the crux of a story, then you’ve the ability to be a good journalist.

What made you decide to leave the United Kingdom for the United States?

Me and my husband came on holiday to Atlanta about seven years ago and we basically fell in love with the States.  One of my husband’s friends relocated here and was living a comfortable life.  Seeing how black  professionals live in America, particularly in Atlanta, where you have the ability to work your way up the corporate ladder… I think it was that, the lifestyle and I thought there would be more opportunities for me here.

Do you prefer it here in America?

I absolutely love Atlanta. I feel like I found home. It feels like where I’m meant to be.

Do you have a different perspective on black issues in America being from a different country?

I probably do have a different perspective. For me, coming as an immigrant I feel that, and maybe specifically to Atlanta, which I think is a great place for black professionals, for me there seems to be a phenomenal amount of opportunity, but that’s from my perspective. I know race is a huge issue in America, I’m very aware of that – in London there’s racism as well – maybe at a slightly different level, but of course I’m aware of injustice and all of the issues going on, but at the same time I see America as the land of opportunity – that’s my perspective.

Your experience has spanned three countries – Nigeria through your parents, England and the United States.  How do you identify?

K:  What can I say… being Nigerian is very important to me, so I would identify as a British Nigerian.  I’ve been in the States four years, and now it’s like home.

Why did you start UrbanGeekz?

I was at the Grio for close to four years and it was a phenomenal job. But I felt there was a gap in the market. There wasn’t a minority-led news platform tackling issues related to STEM and the technology industry, which as you know is an important space that’s going to become even more significant in the coming years.  The other reason that sparked me to launch UrbanGeekz was when the big tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, released their diversity stats and showed dismal numbers of African-Americans and women. I think that and the combination of just thinking we’re not covering these stories was the impetus.

Who do you consider your competition in the digital tech space?

I’ve got a huge vision for UrbanGeekz.  I want the platform to compete with the big players like TechCrunch  and the African-American and even the Latino digital news outlets as well.  They aren’t my competition now because we’ve just started, but I hope to be at the same level further down the line.

What do you see as the near future for blacks and people of color in tech and science?

There’s been so much conversation about this right now.  It’s a hot topic.  Some of the big firms, including Intel and Apple, have made major announcements within the last year, [earmarking] money for underserved minorities and women. So I feel and I hope that people of color – and I say “people of color” because UrbanGeekz is a multi-cultural website – African-Americans of course, but I do want to include Latino market at some point and even Africans and Afro-Latinos as well – my hope is that particularly with the current discussion, people of color will become more and more involved in STEM and the tech space. Technology is important and when you look at the high-demand jobs of the future, many require STEM or tech skills.  Underserved minorities and women need to have this skill set to level the playing field.

Are East Indians and Asians thought of as “people of color” in tech?

They are doing much better in tech. UrbanGeekz is for underrepresented communities in the technology industry.

Do you think there is enough awareness around disparity in the tech industry?

Before those diversity statistics were publicly released there wasn’t too much focus on the giant tech companies. But people like Reverend Jesse Jackson have been vocal and continued to put the spotlight on the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. Now the issue is a hot topic. It’s also about what kind of skills and jobs that will be in demand in the future. STEM skills are vital for career progression and the continued growth of the U.S. economy. These companies are the new Fortune 500 companies, the new GM [General Motors] or U.S. Steel.


Further down the line, Tinuoye and UrbanGeekz will be launching the UrbanGeekz 100, an annual list of underrepresented minorities making strides in science and technology.  The handpicked list will culminate with an on-site exclusive awards gala honoring these dynamic leaders and influencers of color who have achieved success in their prospective industries.

To check out the website, go to UrbanGeekz.com. On social media, find UrbanGeekz at: Twitter: @UrbanGkz, Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/urbangeekz, Instagram: @UrbanGkz, Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/urbangeekzcom/  Google Plus: http://google.com/+Urbangeekz, and YouTube: http://youtube.com/c/Urbangeekz.

Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Founder/Editor-In-Chief
article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Founder/Editor-In-Chief

New Fellowship “Code For Progress” Prepares People of Color for Coding Careers

The 2014 graduating class of Code for Progress (Photo courtesy of Code for Progress)

The graduation ceremony started with a freedom chant led by fellow Angie Rollins, a member of the BYP100. The 40 plus people in attendance joined in, clapping and repeating the chorus: “What side are you on my people?/What side are you on?” It grounded the event in this political moment, referencing Michael Brown and Ferguson in the chant as they began. If you didn’t know better, you’d think this was a graduation for community organizers, or radical political educators. Instead, it was a graduation for 11 newly trained coders, finishing the first-ever Code for Progress (CFP) fellowship. They all spent the last four months in an intensive coding bootcamp in Washington, D.C., learning from instructor Aliya Rahman the basics of a handful of different coding languages, with the hopes of beginning their careers in technology.

The graduation was held at Google’s downtown Washington, D.C., offices, a fact that felt both fitting and somewhat ironic given recent conversations stirred up this summer with the release of Google’sAppleLinkedIn and Yahoo’s self-reported diversity statistics. Unlikely to be a surprise to anyone working within the  industry, the stats show abysmal representation for non-Asian people of color overall, and a poor showing for women as well. So for the 11 fellows, seven of whom are women of color, they are unlikely to find many peers in their future places of employment. The freedom chant, while distinctly out of place at Google, was actually quite fitting for the mission of CFP—its goal is to bring politically minded organizers into the tech industry.

The fellowship is a direct response to the lack of diversity in the tech field, and it also tries to address a root cause of these disparities: access to computer science education. “Folks who are in communities of color have a higher probability of going to a school that doesn’t teach computer science,” says Rahman. “Seven kids took the advanced placement computer science exam in Washington, D.C., [last year], compared to hundreds in Maryland and Virginia.”

Continue reading “New Fellowship “Code For Progress” Prepares People of Color for Coding Careers”

20 Year-Old YouTube Sensation Marques Brownlee Known as “Best Technology Reviewer On The Planet”

marques-brownlee
YouTube Tech Reviewer Marques Brownlee (YouTube / MKBHD)

Marques Brownlee is just 20 years old, but there’s arguably no one better on the internet when it comes to explaining new technologies to the average consumer. Even former Google VP Vic Gundotra called him “the best technology reviewer on the planet right now.”

YouTubers have taken notice of the young man: Brownlee’s YouTube channel “MKBHD” has more than 1.5 million subscribers and nearly 130 million total views on his 640-plus videos.

Still, he’s no overnight success: Brownlee has been working tirelessly for more than five years, honing his craft by constantly producing and self-critiquing his videos to make the next ones easier to both make and watch.

But despite all of the work involved, “MKBHD” is, was, and will always be a solo effort.

“When I first started making the videos, I didn’t tell anyone about it,” he said in an interview with Business Insider. “Not [my family], not anyone. But after a while it was something that was pretty obvious, since I was making a whole bunch of videos … I just didn’t necessarily feel like telling people about what I was researching.”

Brownlee, a senior at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, said he always had a love for technology. His dad works in technology — information systems and programming, specifically — but Brownlee’s interests were more centered on consumer electronics, starting with computers and some of the old camcorders his parents had around. He said his first computer was a Dell desktop with a “big old 15-inch CRT monitor.”

“It was kind of a background hobby; I didn’t have a reason to tell anyone when I first started making the videos,” he said.

marques-brownlee-young
From one of Brownlee’s first YouTube videos. (YouTube / MKBHD)

When he entered high school, Brownlee said, he wanted to buy a laptop for school, so he researched various computers and watched tutorials on “how to do cool tricks and customizations.” And simply by watching others’ tutorials, Brownlee felt encouraged to make some tutorials of his own with some simple screencasting software.

Still, it would take a while to build an audience.

“It was super slow. The first few videos, there were no comments and no views,” he told BI. “But eventually, once someone would comment on the video, they asked about other things I could share.”

Brownlee started to gain a small following by answering users’ questions with his own handmade videos. By the time he reached his 100th video, he had only 78 subscribers. But Brownlee’s operation was not what it is today, and still very much a work in progress.

“Back then, it was all one take,” he said. “So when I’d make a video, I’d open the software, press record, talk two or three minutes to explain whatever I needed to explain, and I’d just stop and upload it to YouTube. That was it.

“I could make multiple videos in a day, but now, the videos are much more elaborate.”

Brownlee currently produces several different types of videos. He’s got his reviews, explainers, and impressions, but he’ll also throw in some special features and “advanced projects.” But with every video, a great deal of research is involved before Brownlee ever starts filming.

Continue reading “20 Year-Old YouTube Sensation Marques Brownlee Known as “Best Technology Reviewer On The Planet””

Virtual Instruments CEO John W. Thompson Replaces Bill Gates as Chairman of Microsoft Board

John W. Thompson, Chairman, Microsoft Board of Directors (Image: File)

John W. Thompson, CEO of Virtual Instruments and former CEO of Symantec Corp, has been named chairman of Microsoft’s board of directors, according to reports.  An industry leader for more than 40 years, he has made phenomenal strides in technology, having served as the only African American leading a major tech company during his time at Symantec. The Florida A&M and MIT alumnus is credited with growing the software giant’s revenues from $632 million to $6.2 billion and leading the growth of its worldwide workforce to more than 17,500 employees.

Thompson has served as an independent director on the board of Microsoft and also brings his experience as a former vice-president at IBM to his current post.  An early innovator and investor in tech advances in Silicon Valley, Thompson has also been included among Black Enterprise’s “100 Most Powerful African Americans in Corporate America,” and was named “Corporate Executive of the Year” as head of Symantec in 2004.

The West Palm Beach, Fla. native was recognized early for his knack for sales and has had a go-getter approach to his advancement. In a recent New York Times article, Thompson shared the following on career and business lessons he’s learned through the years: “First, never take yourself too seriously, or work is boring. Next, people make the difference. You can have great technology, but if it’s not complemented by great people, it won’t go anywhere. Finally, customers buy from people they like. I can always circle back to former customers and suggest they might want to take a look at our products.”

article by Janell Hazelwood via blackenterprise.com

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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