Despite a 14-month maternity leave, Serena Williams has topped Forbes’ “Highest-Paid Female Athlete” list for the third consecutive year.
Due to her pregnancy in January 2017, Williams was off the court for the majority of the past year, leaving her with only $62,000 in winnings. Still, the 23-time Grand Slam champion collected twice as many off-court coins than any other female athlete.
Earning $18.1 million in endorsements, Williams was able to top the list by over $5 million, with Australian Open winner Dane Caroline Wozniacki second in line.
Though Forbes did not include a woman in their ranking of the world’s top 100 highest earning athletes of 2018 after Williams’ earnings fell by approximately $10 million since the year prior, only 16 male athletes earned more than Williams in sponsorship money over the last 12 months.
In addition to over a dozen sponsors including Nike, Intel, Audemars Piguet, JPMorgan Chase, Lincoln, Gatorade and Beats, Williams also launched her first solo fashion compilation, Serena, in May.
Williams is currently gearing up to match Margaret Court’s 24 grand slam title record at this year’s US Open.
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.
Good 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.
The Mountain View, Calif., tech giant Google is trying to get more women and minorities into technology with an ambitious $150 million plan. Google told CNNMoney half that money will go to outside organizations and communities, while the other half will be used internally to make Google more inclusive.
In a blog post this week, VP of People Operations Nancy Lee laid out the company’s strategy for 2015. It follows earlier public efforts by Google (GOOG) to increase diversity, including sending Google engineers to historically black universities and and working with Disney (DIS) to improve depictions of girls in computer science. In 2014, the company put $114 million toward diversity programs.
The company is also expanding where it looks for fresh talent by recruiting at a wider variety of colleges. The lack of diversity in tech goes deeper than just the HR department. As was highlighted in the Ellen Pao gender discrimination trial, company culture is also key to keeping and encouraging a diverse workforce. Google is offering more internal training and workshops on unconscious bias, and employees can use part of their time to work on diversity initiatives.
It’s also looking at the root of the problem, expanding computer science education for kids and pushing to get under-served communities online.
The company still has a lot of work to do. According to the diversity report it released last year, only 17% of its tech workers are female, 1% of its tech workforce is black and 2% are Hispanic. In the blog post, Lee said Google plans to release 2015 diversity numbers soon.
In March, Google executive Eric Schmidt was called out during a panel on diversity at SXSW for repeatedly interrupting Megan Smith, the chief technology officer of the U.S. and a former Googler. The audience member who pointed it out was Judith Williams, the manager of Google’s global diversity and talent programs.
It’s not the only company putting money into diversity. Apple has donated $50 million to organizations that will help more minorities and women get into tech. Intel is sinking $300 million into a program that expands STEM education to more diverse students.
A flashy new smart watch isn’t all Apple has up its sleeve. The company is donating more than $50 million to organizations that aim to get more women, minorities, and veterans working in tech.
In an exclusive interview with Fortune, Apple’s human resources chief Denise Young Smith said the company is partnering with several non-profit organizations on a multi-year, multi-million-dollar effort to increase the pipeline of women, minorities, and veterans in the technology industry—and, of course, at Apple.
“We wanted to create opportunities for minority candidates to get their first job at Apple,” said Young Smith, who took over as its head of HR a little over a year ago. (Before her current role, the longtime Apple exec spent a decade running recruiting for the retail side of the business.) “There is tremendous upside to that and we are dogged about the fact that we can’t innovate without being diverse and inclusive.”
Young Smith likes to say that diversity extends race and gender—Apple wants its employee base to also reflect different lifestyles and sexual orientations. (Last fall, CEO Tim Cookpublicly acknowledged that he is gay—the first Fortune500 chief executive to do so while holding the title.) But, at least for now, its diversity initiatives are mostly focused on expanding its pipeline of women and minorities.
To that end, the company is partnering with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a non-profit that supports students enrolled in public, historically black colleges and universities (known as HBCUs). These schools include North Carolina A&T State University, Howard University, and Grambling State University (where Young Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and journalism in 1978). All told, there are 100 HBCUs across the country—47 of them are considered public—and collectively they graduate nearly 20% of African-Americans who earn undergraduate degrees.
“Historically, other organizations have provided scholarship dollars or focused on whatever area matters most to them,” says Johnny Taylor, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. “What differentiates this partnership with Apple is that it hits on everything that we do—it is the most comprehensive program ever offered to an HBCU organization.”
SAN FRANCISCO — Over the last year, Apple, Google and other big technology companies have faced mounting criticism by civil rights leaders about the lack of diversity in their work forces, which are populated mostly by white and Asian men.
Now Intel, the giant chip maker, is taking more concrete steps to do something about it.
On Tuesday, Intel said the company’s work force would better reflect the available talent pool of women and underrepresented minority groups in the United States within five years. If successful, the plan would increase the population of women, blacks, Hispanics and other groups at Intel by at least 14 percent during that period, the company said.
In addition, Intel said it has established a $300 million fund to be used in the next three years to improve the diversity of the company’s work force, attract more women and minorities to the technology field and make the industry more hospitable to them once they get there. The money will be used to fund engineering scholarships and to support historically black colleges and universities.
The company also said it would invest in efforts to bring more women into the games business, partly as an antidote to the harassment feminist critics and game developers have faced in recent months. Intel became part of the furor last year when, under pressure, it withdrew an advertising campaign from a game website that had run an essay by a feminist game critic, a move it later said it regretted.
“This is the right time to make a bold statement,” Brian M. Krzanich, Intel’s chief executive, said in a phone interview. Mr. Krzanich announced the plans on Tuesday in a speech at the International CES, a huge trade show in Las Vegas. “It’s kind of Intel’s culture. We march by Moore’s Law. We say we’re going to reinvent Silicon every two years even though we don’t really know how we’re going to pull that off.”
Many of the largest technology companies have released reports showing that roughly 70 percent of their employees are men and 30 percent are women. Depending on the company, blacks account for anywhere from 2 to 7 percent of workers at big tech companies.
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., who has led a campaign to pressure technology companies on diversity, said Intel was going beyond what others have done to remedy the imbalance in their work forces by setting more specific goals for hiring.
“There is no comparison,” said Mr. Jackson, the founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, who has spoken to Intel about its plans. “It is far beyond at this point. I think others are going to follow their lead.”
Intel’s goals, though, face the harsh reality described by many technology leaders: The supply of skilled workers from underrepresented groups, especially in technical fields like engineering, is limited.
Rosalind L. Hudnell, Intel’s chief diversity officer, cited statistics showing that just 18 percent of undergraduate engineering degrees go to women. That makes it especially difficult to improve diversity at Intel, which leans more heavily on technical employees than other tech companies.
“We hire more engineers; we just do, and that pipeline is less,” said Ms. Hudnell.
Chipmaker Intel and SMS Audio, the consumer electronics company founded by 50 Cent, are partnering to launch a pair of heart-rate-measuring headphones.
The SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear headphones have an optical light sensor in the earbuds that, combined with other sensors, infer the wearer’s heart rate during both intense exercise sessions and regular, continuous wear.
Unlike LG’s heart-rate monitoring earphones, the Intel-SMS earphones pull power from your smartphone’s audio jack, which means there’s no additional charging required. And rather than requiring the user to go through a proprietary app, these earphones integrate directly with popular app RunKeeper. The companies say there are likely more app integrations coming.
The BioSport In-Ear headphones will launch sometime in the last quarter of the year. Pricing has not been announced.
For SMS Audio, the partnership with tech giant Intel and the new product are part of an effort to gain traction in a crowded headphone market. NPD analyst Ben Arnold has said that, while the premium headphone market has grown 16 percent over the past year, SMS Audio’s dollar share has shrunk to less than one percent. The company’s headphones, which range in price from $70 to more than $200, have gotten mixed reviews.
Microsoft is spreading its reach to South America with plans to invest roughly $100 million in a technology center based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, according to Agencia Estado.
The center will have support from the Brazilian government, but the lion’s share of funding will come from Microsoft. It’s unclear exactly what the center will do, such as develop products, train Brazilians, act as a research hub, or something else.
According to The Next Web, Microsoft also invested $5 million in its Sao Paulo outpost earlier this year but the Rio de Janeiro center is a far bigger project. The software giant also has tech centers in Germany, Israel, and Egypt.
Microsoft has been involved with Brazil for years. In 2008, it initiated a project that helped expand Internet cafes across the countrygiving more people access to the Web. It also added educational and job-training components to that project.
According to Agencia Estado, several other tech companies also have plans to open centers in Brazil, including a new research hub from Intel.
Questioning whether the reality TV singing contests have run their course, rapper, musician, songwriter, singer, entrepreneur, actor, DJ and producer Will.i.am is reportedly working on a new technology-themed talent show that “aims to be an American Idol for young wizards.”