Friday, October 28, 2011

Arrington, Race, and Silicon Valley

I spent this summer in Silicon Valley as part of the NewMe Accelerator. NewMe is the first Accelerator program focused on African-Americans. I had an absolute blast in California connecting to incredible mentors like Mitch Kapor, Ben Horowitz, Vivek Wadhwa, and, in my own way, both absorbing insight from, and, as the old man of the crew, mentoring the other members of the program. 

As I have over the years spent much time in Silicon Valley, starting from my days writing Mac software in the 90s, it was great to rekindle some old relationships. Participating in the program moved my company, Kloudco, forward in some amazing ways, in large part from the brilliant insight of the other participants. There’s much more I want to say about my NewMe summer, but that will have to wait for a later blog post. 

Our experiences in NewMe were captured in a new documentary that is part of Soledad O’Brien’s Black In America series on CNN. The documentary will air November 13th and on Wednesday, I and a few hundred other people saw an advance screening. You can check out some clips here.

One of the most striking things about the evening was the aftermath reaction to some of the comments that Mike Arrington, founder and former editor of TechCrunch, made on camera.


A Twitter fight erupted between Arrington and others such as Vivek Wadhwa, who is also in the documentary. In the calm of the day after, I want to share my thoughts.

Arrington Says: Silicon Valley Is a meritocracy

Mike said a few very clear things about his view of the state of diversity in Silicon Valley.

  • its true that there are very few African-Americans in Silicon Valley
  • despite this, Silicon Valley is a pure meritocracy
  • you become successful because you have a “big brain”

First, let me say, I think Mike truly believes everything that he has said about the tech world being a meritocracy. Lots of people believe that.

But I do not believe Silicon valley is a meritocracy. I would more properly say that tech *markets* are a meritocracy.  There are very few businesses where a single individual in her bedroom can create a piece of software that can potentially touch millions of people without any additional capital. No matter how talented you are, if you want to open a hot new restaurant or a shoe factory, you need lots of money before you start. Not necessarily so with software.


Consumers and businesses, for the most part, don’t care what the ethnicity of their software or Internet service vendors are. Users want solutions. And so if an entrepreneur can get a great product completed cheaply, in many cases they can compete on totally even footing. Even if they ultimately need capital, explosive initial success knocks down all known barriers.

But the market *makers* operate in a world that is not particularly even-handed.  The market makers are the folks that help new young companies and entrepreneurs by providing insight, mentoring, capital, and relationships. And this part of the tech world is driven by all the same types of biases that exist in the non-tech world. And it is *much* harder for even the most talented African Americans in the tech world to gain access to influential, insightful, connected mentors, let alone investors.


People, for the most part, want to work with people that are “like them” or that fit a pattern that appeals to them. There is an actual term for this among tech investors called “pattern matching”. It's the idea that, without objective facts, one can decide whether someone is likely to be successful based on indirect criteria. In other words, when they see a particular pattern of “personhood” they are excited.

And these patterns are discussed openly in the tech industry around issues like age. Since it is only moderately politically incorrect to suggest that younger entrepreneurs are “better”, it is done all the time. The best example of this might be Mike Moritz from Sequoia Capital, perhaps the most influential of all venture funds, admitting on a TechCrunch Disrupt stage that they have a strong bias towards very young entrepreneurs.

But if you believe that age is the only criteria that VCs use for pattern matching I wanna smoke some of what you’ve got.

To be clear, I am not saying any VC says at a partner meeting, “you know I really like this company’s product but did you notice he’s a negro?”

Never happens.

But I firmly believe market makers, both investors and the people who help you get ready to approach them, seek out entrepreneurs who appeal to them on some less than objective, visceral level, who feel “comfortable” to them. They don’t *need* to actively filter out undesirable profiles. They just focus on what *does* appeal to them. They focus on the “patterns” they find appealing and I am confident that not only is age a part of many investors' ideal patterns, but so are perhaps un-recognized criteria like race, gender, cultural affinity, etc. And on some level this should not be shocking as it reflects socialization that all of us must work hard and consciously not to act on.

Is this (racist/sexist/agist/_____ist)? Well in this context, using incendiary labels is only likely to make people more defensive. The bigger question is, is it a problem? Absolutely.

Is it possible to overcome these additional barriers? I have. But it is only by a sheer persistence and focus that, few other people, white, black, or otherwise, have. While I would never suggest that I am smarter than anyone else, my Arnold-Schwartenzegger-in-Terminator like determination has made my successes possible. Yes, I have definitely had help and support, but compared to some, not so much. 

In fact some people get far more support than others. For example, I’m not going to name any names, but when a top tier VC writes a five million dollar check to a 19 year-old with a barely-beyond-napkin-stage *idea*, no customers and a fragile technology because they “present well” then clearly something else is at work. I am not saying that this exact scenario is common, but it does happen. And since everything is on a spectrum and I can guarantee there are no African-American, or for that matter Latino or female entrepreneurs that contribute such insane data points to that spectrum, it is troubling.


So the bottom line is, if the level of determination that I have was required from everyone on some kind of moderately equal basis, it would indeed be a level playing field — a meritocracy. But it's not.

Arrington says: I went out of my way to cover African-American entrepreneurs at TechCrunch

The other striking comment Mike made in the documentary was that he went out of its way to make sure African-American’s got covered in TechCrunch.

Bull.

And I say that with all due respect, because, again, I suspect he believes that it's true. But I just don’t buy it.

The NewMe organizers tried repeatedly to reach TechCrunch regarding covering the NewMe demo day. They never got a response. While this was going on, Mike was discussing, with CNN producers, being interviewed by Soledad O’Brien for the documentary. At some point, Mike agreed to do the documentary, and after he had shot his interview, told the NewMe organizers (after being approached at a party) that he would be sure to send someone to demo day. Before that time there had been no acknowledgement from TechCrunch that NewMe even existed. No emails responded to, nothing. Mike had only responded to CNN.

TechCrunch writer Alexia Tsotsis did ultimately show up to the demo day. Her article was complimentary about the idea of NewMe and she said, via Twitter, that it was the best run demo day she had seen. But she only wrote a sentence or two about each startup. She didn’t ask anyone for a live demo, or present anything of substance about any of the companies. In essence, she focused on the form of the demo day and the purpose, but not the companies.

Now, if this was the standard for how TechCrunch covers demo days, that would be fine. But I read TechCrunch voraciously, and I don’t believe I have ever seen such thin coverage of any demo day that did get covered. YCombinator has always gotten a full story on each company, as has (I believe) TechStars. Of course there are many accelerators and demo days, and I can’t say that TechCrunch covers every one in depth. But it was striking that they didn't do a substantive piece on even *one* company given that they did cover the event. (Note: several months later they did cover a company, but not in the demo day context as usually happens).

So my point is this. Though Mike was being interviewed by CNN about race in Silicon Valley in the context of the NewMe accelerator, he did not deem it appropriate to make sure his NewMe coverage was at least roughly on par with other accelerator demo day coverage on TechCrunch. Awareness that he was going to be on national television talking about fairness and balance and meritocracy and race in the Valley did not sway him. Perhaps he didn’t want to be seen as giving favor to NewMe since he was going to be in the documentary. Perhaps.

Either way, Mike was within his rights to decide what he would or would not cover, or how he would cover it, and at what depth. He does not owe any person of color or female entrepreneur or anyone else anything. But to, after the fact, say that he bent over backwards to cover African American entrepreneurs is laughable.

Does this make Mike a bad guy? No. I presume in actuality,  he wasn't even involved in the editorial process. So I won't blame him for the uncharacteristic lack of depth of demo day coverage. But I sure as hell am not going to let him claim credit for somehow being some kind of bend-over-backwards-to-cover-African-American-entrepreneurs kind of guy. Let's get real.

82 comments:

  1. wow. Got linked to this via twitter.

    As an African-American in tech, everything you say rings so true.

    Very well put Hank.

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  2. After ten+ years coding, I can honestly say the only other black developer I've met is my very own son. Understand, I haven't gone out of my way looking for any, but the facts are the facts. That is the issue that needs to be addressed. Racism is a given but if you can write code, you can support your family in a comfortable manner. Period. We are not sitting in the back of this bus, we've missed it completely.

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  3. @flighttime but your blogger profile say (not kidding) you live in la la land. Perhaps you need to move somewhere else to find black programmers :).

    But seriously, it is certainly true that there are not enough black programmers. But as a programmer I am sure you are logical enough to understand that the two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

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  4. Hank, your focus is understandable and necessary. But when it comes to programmers, it's a bit pointless when you open doors and there's no one to walk through them. I'm more curious to know exactly what "not enough" means in your experience. In 7 years at a major social networking site, I've never even seen a black programmer come in for an interview. Oh... and yes, I live in SoCal, but I'm a New Yorker in mind and spirit. It will always be la la land.

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  5. @flighttime I disagree that it is pointless to focus on the difficulty of becoming successful. If amongst the few black tech entrepreneurs out there, they have a *harder* time than their white or other ethnicity counterparts, then that just *decreases* the likelihood of being able to improve the numbers. If there are not visible signs of success (and therefore downstream role models and mentors) it does not encourage a young kid to enter the field. And so the cycle continues. Unless you have been immersed in the *entrepreneurial* world (i.e. not the I code for a living world) this may be harder to relate to. But in the last year I have spent time with lots of black technical and entrepreneurial folks that do not have the same access as their other ethnicity counterparts.

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  6. Hank, Hank, Hank... You responded to one word in my post, 'pointless', and ignored the rest. Reread it and you'll see I made it clear I was speaking specifically of programmers. I also stated that I did understand your perspective and felt it necessary. That being said. Any chance I can get a non-emotional response? And please, try to refrain from petty comments regarding coding for a living. Ok. Now let's press the reset button and see if there's a conversation available here.

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  7. I ignored the rest of your post because all you were doing was asking me for a statistic. I dont have any stats on how many black programmers there are, and for my purposes it doesn't matter. I agree its a problem but my piece is not about that. That is a separate article. This piece should be evaluated on the subject at hand.

    And regarding the "I code for a living" point, it was not designed as some emotional slight. It wasn't emotional at all. It is factual. There is a *WORLD* of difference between being a programmer and being a tech entrepreneur. The things you need, the things you do, and the things you experience include almost no overlap. And I say that as someone who has coded for thirty three years, who has been a tech entrepreneur for twenty five of those years. So please do not take offense. I am just trying to explain an important fact.

    My bottom line is there is certainly a problem with the number of black programmers. The numbers are way too low. But that fact has no bearing on my arguments at all. If you want to discuss that subject, please wait until I write a blog post about that (or write one yourself that I can comment on), because a full discussion will not fit in a comment box.

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  8. You are ignoring the obvious. Programers are, by nature entrepreneurs. We take an idea and make it something tangible. Trust me, you are not unique in having gone from one venue to the other. The overlap is the mindset. I'm sorry that you see this discussion as an intrusion. I see our goals as symbiotic, not conflicting and as such, wish you much success.

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  9. "Programers are, by nature entrepreneurs. We take an idea and make it something tangible."

    With all due respect that is ridiculous. Entrepreneurship is about making *everything* happen yourself. Its about taking the economic and professional risks necessary to succeed -- on your own. And its not just about development, but sales, and marketing and negotiation and fund raising, and capital management, and so many more things.

    When you have made the leap you can come back to me and talk about your experiences. Until then you can no more credibly discuss entrepreneurship than I can talk to you about the intricacies of cardiovascular surgery.

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  10. Making assumptions about people you don't know is never the best choice. I'm done here.

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  11. No assumption made. You described yourself as a programmer and the structure of your comment was that you were an entrepreneur *by virtue* of being a programmer, which is, on its face, a ridiculous statement. Done you are indeed.

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  12. Hank:
    I wholeheartedly agree with your statement "If amongst the few black tech entrepreneurs out there, they have a *harder* time than their white or other ethnicity counterparts, then that just *decreases* the likelihood of being able to improve the numbers. If there are not visible signs of success (and therefore downstream role models and mentors) it does not encourage a young kid to enter the field. And so the cycle continues."
    The key word here is visible. Increased visibility of successful black tech entrepreneurs and successful black techs period is what is needed. I am trying to build a community where Black techs are seen and heard. The new site should be launching soon but you can check us out here and join. It's free. http://www.blacksintechnology.net

    Greg Greenlee
    Owner/Founder of Blacks In Technology

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  14. I'm not qualified to talk about the coverage of black americans in the tech news media or in vc relationships, but I do know that the way VCs determine who is a "good person" in the whole "we invest in people, not ideas" would be illegal if they were employing the person instead of investing in them; age bias, marital status, parental status, etc -- and those are just the biases they publicly admit on stage.

    I try to take people as individuals and to give the benefit of the doubt when my expectations aren't met, but it is hard and requires a certain level of cultural self-doubt. When I'm tired, lazy, or pressed for time, I know that I fall back to generalization and "quick" decision making -- I'm not proud of that, but I'm not particularly ashamed, either -- it's human.


    From what I can tell, cultural and monetary incentives are aligned such that individual VCs are rewarded for selectivity. So, they gain by evaluating *and* passing on as many companies as possible. As a result, they need to a) have a lot of applicants and b) have a lot of ways of eliminating applicants. Because of how fast it is to apply, "pattern matching", as VCs call it, makes for a "effective" filter in that it eliminates lots of potential companies. Further, because "selectivity" itself is incentivized the VC is more afraid of perceived false positives than perceived false negatives.

    The current situation sucks, but I don't know what I can do to improve it.

    [edited for grammar]

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  15. In 2000 / 2001, I was a partner in a venture capital firm that exclusively focused on funding startups started and owned by minorities (not just technology startups, but we had a bunch in our portfolio). Ninety percent of our portfolio companies were run by African-Americans.

    My partner was African-American - he had absolutely stellar credentials: ivy league education, successful exits from businesses he started, and so on. His background was far superior to mine. I had lots of sound and fury - but it didn't signify much. I wasn't even able to finish a second year of college before I left (well, I was "asked" to leave).

    However, I'm white.

    What struck me at the time was how completely uninterested Black business leaders were in supporting emerging Black business people, engineers, technologists, and otherwise. In meeting after meeting, with many of the top Black business leaders in the country, my partner might as well have not been in the room.

    The notion that I was naive about how the world worked is a disappointing one, but it proved to be true.

    I don't believe that one penny of investment came from a wealthy Black business person or from a successful African-American-owned business.

    This was (and likely still is) a fundamental problem for the creation of generations of successful Black entrepreneurs. There's plenty of wealth in the African-American community, in the US and abroad, and it must be put to work with emerging Black entrepreneurs. Until that happens, a fear the struggle will continue.

    (I do feel compelled to relate one contradiction: Jessie Jackson (Sr.) was an unbelievable supporter of one of our startups - he put his credibility and his name on the line and forced the CEO of one of the top Japanese consumer electronics companies to back down from a lawsuit and instead strike a license agreement. It took real balls to do what Jackson did for this company, and he didn't even break a sweat. The little time I got to spend with Jackson was amazing a real privilege, and like him or not, he did what needed doing.)

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  16. Just wanted to note, in re: Hank v. flighttime

    Hank is correct. While there are certainly programmers who have gone on to establish successful businesses, and entrepreneurs who can code their way out of a paper bag, they are two very distinct disciplines.

    Vis-a-vis: Allen and Gates / Jobs and Wozniak

    Programmers (of which I am one) deal with the scintilla of putting together a computer application ... the semi-colons and the methods. Financials and schmoozing are boring to us.

    Entrepreneurs (which I have tried to be, several times) have an entirely different skill set, which includes such things as "people skills" and salesmanship. Semi-colons and methods are distractions to them.

    When one is a Programmer, one does not typically hang out with Entrepreneurs for at least two reasons: (1) because Entrepreneurs talk about really, seriously boring stuff and (2) because Entrepreneurs don't really need Programmers, and so they don't need to hang out with us, and so they don't hang out with us.

    This makes our two Worlds ... discrete.

    Taking an idea and engineering it into reality is NOT entrepreneurial, nor is it even within the lexicon of an entrepreneur.

    The Entrepreneur works with the concept and nature of the enterprise, and the Programmer deals with the products produced by that enterprise. While it is true that the act of creation involves pursuit of a goal and often thinking around obstacles and through challenges, which are also elements of most business startups, creating a business and creating an app are very different pursuits mentally, emotionally and actually.

    Again, I'm with Hank on this one.

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  17. In case you haven't seen it, there is some great research being done at Harvard about subconscious racism:

    https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/research/

    Here's a Washington Post article about it:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27067-2005Jan21.html

    Anybody who is interested in the topic of race in modern society really needs to check this out. It is rigorous, actual science being done to understand the issues.

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  18. Hey Hank and everyone,

    I'm writing this for some advice.

    I'm a young (trying to be entrepreneurial) guy, and was struck by the focus of one of the comments above. I'll quote the relevant part of it so we can all get on point here:

    "Entrepreneurship is about making *everything* happen yourself. Its about taking the economic and professional risks necessary to succeed -- on your own. And its not just about development, but sales, and marketing and negotiation and fund raising, and capital management, and so many more things."

    Lately, I've been doing a lot of reading, and a lot of listening, in order to learn more about what makes "the best" entrepreneur - tech or otherwise. The pattern that's emerged, from my observation, is that - excluding the 1 in a million Mark Zuckerberg-style venture - the most successful entrepreneurs are the most *connected* ones. The people who actively ask for help, and partner with others so they don't have to do everything themselves.

    I guess what I'm asking is, is being an entrepreneur about "making *everything* happen yourself? Or is it about getting others to help you?

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  19. I'll never forget a statement by John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins. He said, and I quote "all I have to do is invest in white males under 30, with no social life that code all day." THAT is the over 50 mentality of white men that is truly a detriment. The message is, if your are not Marc Zuckerberg, don't bother me.

    I'm black, an engineer with an MBA, and 46. Thank goodness that Silicon Valley is not the only place you can start a tech company. I'd be SOL. Checkout Dialflow.com, thats me, and the John Doer's of the world can't hold me back.

    Gonna follow you on twitter Hank. Great job.

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  20. @Canada you are right. No one can do it all by themselves. But as the entrepreneur you are responsible for *making* it happen. Usually that involves getting people to help, leadership, salesmanship, etc.

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  21. Absolutely brilliant (as usual), Hank!

    I'm really glad someone else noticed how all the NewME companies got a *sentence* on TechCrunch, they originally got Angela's name wrong, and then turned around and published a ridiculously biased article sweeping my company under the rug the very next day (wrong URL for Pencil You In, no real news, etc.--good to have friends at TC, no?).

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  22. To be honest, I'm a programmer and I read TechCrunch (not really a fan of TechCrunch though), and this blog post is the first time I've even heard of NewME.

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  24. I'd like to have your opinion on your first line. If you'd read something like this:

    -"I'll create the first basket-ball program focused on White-Americans."
    Would you find that racist? Because it's exacly what I feel reading the beginning...

    http://media.cnbc.com/i/CNBC/Sections/News_And_Analysis/__Story_Inserts/graphics/__SPORTS/__N-Z/USA_basketball_team.jpg

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  25. Really loved the post Hank. Not all that relevant to me (I'm a middle class white art director in Australia). But fascinating read.

    It's hard to acknowledge, but even the best of us make decisions based on underlying racism sometimes.

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  26. At "?"...
    White Americans as group of people are not a minority and have not suffered oppression for generations.

    It's about redressing the imbalance.

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  27. Hank,

    This post made me wonder how much human potential has been lost because it didn't fit the "model", er ah um "investment thesis", or prejudices.

    I would love to know what you think about Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do. While I'm not what is traditionally considered a minority in the States, this book was a personal revelation.

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  28. "redressing the imbalance." through racism...

    Minorities are a majority in 22 major cities now like LA or Miami:
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UK9K3XOzOe8/Tl-HgytZ02I/AAAAAAAAALs/6Dr7hy9ttYs/s400/hj.PNG

    White people have suffered through generations as well.
    Let me remind you for ex, that Spain has been colonized for centuries by Arabs, had to pay a tax called "Jizya" to remain alive and Spaniards are not asking for an "Affirmative whatever" today.
    White people suffered from slavery as well:
    http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/whtslav.htm
    To see white ppl history the way you describe it is just ridiculous.
    In this Spike Lee movie (the one with Ed Norton) there's this phrase:
    "Slavery is over for more than 200 years , turn the fuckin' page"

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  29. I'm not sure I agree with any of this.

    The VAST majority of startups fail. The VAST majority. Even the king of incubators, YC, has a massive failure rate. In fact, I'd wager their failure is probably better than it looks, because they accept smart people, who others want AS CODERS, not because their startup is great.

    If most startups fail, then either The Valley IS a meritocracy, or there is some heavy biasing going on to help choose winners. I am not sure anyone can be an entrepreneur, which in this context be a synonym for "market realist", and hold the latter "market manipulation" view.

    The explanation for why so few non-Jewish US born minorities are in the game is, IMHO, more likely class based, and I'll explain why.

    A startup that receives the sort of preferential treatment discussed, from VCs and others, is pretty advanced - advanced to the point that they can get in front of such people.

    But that isn't where the issue is AFAICT. The difference is in the startup/beginning phase, as the number that get before VCs is a % of the total that start out, and most startups are started by white kids. That is similarly why very few that get before are over 60.

    If few non-white/Jewish people start companies, fewer still will ever get before a VC, and as the vast majority of startups fail anyway, the chances of an African America or Hispanic startup succeeding are exponentially small. It the compund affect of < 5% to the power of anything.

    Back to class, ask yourself who is more likely to try a revenue-less, lottery style business on a summer break - a white kid whose parents can afford to fund what they do (at least in part) or a minority?

    What's more, the African American kids who are in that position, whose parents are professionals, are probably more likely to go into Law, or Medicine, for of a whole raft of reasons that honestly are very valid.

    So if more middle class white kids do startups, and the vast majority fail, then most successes will be middle class white kids. It is just Maths.

    Now, the question of how to get more non-Jewish whites into startups is an interesting one, and maybe this sort of program,will do it. But I'm not so sure it is a wise to aim for.

    IMHO, startups are a form of insanity (against all odds **I** will succeed), and they leave wreckage and carnage that is brutal. Sure, we hear the success stories but, again, most startups FAIL... and badly. I wonder - is it really wise to want ANY group to do this MORE? Why do we want to encourage ANYONE to do this? \

    Perhaps this whole lottery craziness is better left to people who are most willing to on this form on insanity, irrespective of their demographic, because I am not sure encouraging behaviour with a 75%+ failure rate serves anyone.

    I am reminded of a friend of a friend who is Chinese that converted to Judaism. The Rabbi kept asking "are you really sure you want to do this"? I wonder the same thing about startups - maybe we should discourage MORE people from starting, because it really is a tough way to make a life!

    TL;DR The problem is specifically one of starting, and that is down to individual choice and circumstance more than anything else, and not something we should encourage.

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  30. At "?"
    Who said anything about Slavery moron?

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  31. Who said anything about "White Americans as group of people are not a minority and have not suffered oppression for generations."
    Just like you're not refering to slavery???
    MORON!

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  32. Educate yourself ans stop crying baby girl...

    "While African slaves did grueling labor on sugar and cotton plantations in the Americas, European Christian slaves were often worked just as hard and as lethally – in quarries, in heavy construction, and above all rowing the corsair galleys themselves."

    http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/whtslav.htm

    I say Black americans are moaners, travel to Brazil or India, they turned the page! Do the same.

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  33. ? is another white whiner. He is mad because his white privilege is not as rock solid as it was before the civil rights movement. They always use the same tired strategies to derail any conversation about race, because he cannot stand the idea the he did not get where he is by the sweat of his own brow. He comes up a with a more and more convoluted narrative to hide their anti-black bias and when he is met with facts, he get angry, looses his veneer of civility and the insults start flying. This pattern is as reliable as gravity.

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  34. I was talking about segregation, and that didn't end with slavery. You're trying to reduce the argument to something that fits into your warped view of a particular piece of history.

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  35. You made some good points in this post. Just great insights about how certain people are probably preferred.

    And then you go and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I don't know if your balls are made of brass or that material they make Xmas balls out of.

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  36. Thank you for this article. These are things that, unfortunately, need to be said again and again. As some of the more abusively ignorant comments sadly demonstrate.

    The "pattern matching" thing is so persistent, and so difficult to fight. This reminds me of 20 years ago when my mother was one of the very few female professors at an elite graduate school that shall remain nameless. It was run by well-intentioned, liberal, not consciously racist white men in their 50s, some of whom had even been actively involved in the Civil Rights movement. However, they kept complaining that though they really wanted to hire women and minorities, they just couldn't find any truly worthy candidates. The first year my mom noticed that a minority candidate with a great CV who (she thought) gave a really strong job talk didn't get hired because he "flunked lunch." This irked her, so she started keeping score on who flunked lunch. And sure enough, "lunch" was where the minority and women candidates were mostly washing out. She began pointing this out -- at first politely and eventually furiously. And oh what a shitstorm of denial and "I am NOT a RACIST!" she let herself in for!

    They just could NOT see that evaluating candidates based on how much fun a group of older white men thought they were to have lunch with was skewing the application process. They couldn't acknowledge that *they* felt less comfortable and at ease with minority and women candidates because even suggesting such a thing would be admitting they were racist, right??? Nor could they seem to get their Very Big Brains around the concept that the women and minority candidates themselves probably weren't at their most scintillatingly brilliant stuck around a lunch table with a bunch of older white guys who were infamous for not hiring women and minorities.

    This "flunking lunch" or "pattern matching" stuff is such an intractable problem. It crops up again and again, especially in work cultures where people pride themselves on being smart and creative and think they're "beyond" racism. I think the only solution is to patiently and logically point the problem out -- as you've done here -- everywhere it surfaces. Other than that I don't have a solution. Wish I did.

    But on the bright side ... I ended up here through twitter so now I have a new blog to follow :-D

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  37. This "minority tyranny" is so annoying.
    I'm impatient to read your next article on "black men in snorkeling adventures" or "black water polo against gays asians"
    black people are generally good in sports, good for them, i don't care.
    white people are generally good in physics, good for them, i don't care either.
    Stop counting people like sheeps.
    "Land of the free"? Let me laugh...

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  38. The problem with marketing NewMe as a “black” accelerator is that the media will present you in the same light. Journalists love to write stories about a person or business who was disadvantaged in someway but managed to overcome and be successful. Every black owned business can take advantage of this to get media coverage but they're more likely to get a heartfelt story rather than something that can truly push their business forward.

    Look at what President Obama went through during the 2008 campaign. You had TV commentators gushing about how “articulate” and “well-spoken” he was. Of course he's articulate, he's running for the President of the United States!!! It's kind of a prerequisite. Every minute on TV spent talking about the fact that he was black was a minute not spent talking about his stance on the issues.

    To take it back to tech, I've read several articles about the company InDinero over the past year. And based on those articles it's been ingrained in my head that its run by Jessica Mah, a 19 year old who received millions in funding and blah blah blah. To this day I cannot remember what the hell her company actually does because their mission is always mentioned as a background fact.

    My point is, you've made the actual startups and what they do a side story as opposed to the main event. At the end of the day the image journalists create about your company/accelerator comes from you and you're the only one with the power to change that. If the first thing you mention about NewMe is that it's focused on black entrepreneurs then that's the first thing the journalists will write about.

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  39. Why aren't there many over-weight entrepreneurs in the Vally? I mean just look at how many over weight americans in US and they are under-presented in tech. I'm pissed. I'm going to start a OverWeightMe incubator that helps fat people. And any news media or investor who is not paying attention is a a weight-ist. You all should all write about me and fund me because i'm fat and under-presented so I deserve it.

    Sarcasm aside, let me tell you why there are so few black tech entrepreneurs. Fact 1: Most successful tech founders in the Valley are themselves technical. Fact 2: Go to your favorite college, how many black people there studying math or computer science ? how many white or asians?

    If there are very small percentage of black studying math and computer science, of course, the number of the black tech entrepreneurs would be small.

    To all the black people out there, please don't turn venture capitalism into philanthropy. You will destroy Silicon Vally.

    The whole sport (e.g basketball) industry is dominated by black people. Do you see asian people crying around shouting 'racism'? If you are really good (like in sports), you gain success. If you are not good, you're not (like making tech companies). It's simple.

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  40. I like the focus you gave this article.

    Arrington may not be racist but...the market makers are not practicing a pure meritocracy.

    Arrington may not completely ignore Black entrepreneurs but...he didn't go out of his way to give coverage as he claims.

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  41. Great discussion, Hank. By the way, you mentioned writing Mac software since the 90s, but weren't you working on Pastel...in the late 80's?!

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  42. yes, 0d7a7ba6-0249-11e1-bbf9-000bcdcb8a73, I was working on Pastel/Daymaker in the late 80's but I don't think I started spending time in the valley until the early 90's but I may have my dates wrong!!!

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  43. People kill me with the "slavery has been over for 200 years" argument. Those people live in an as if world. As if oppression after slavery didn't exist. As if the civil rights movement didn't just happen 50 years ago. The "ok it's over with, you all should be caught up by now" is so BS to me. It's akin to 200 meter race where a person has a 150 meter head start, the race begins and that person finishes first then acts incredulous as to why everyone is finishing behind him and saying, oh you haven't caught up yet. INCREDIBLE!!!

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    1. for what it's worth buddy, I think "the race" starts with every birth....I can blame my parents for the lack of the too little of's the why didn't they's - at what point to you stop and take responsibility for what's IN FRONT of you? Screw the past, it's gone. Do something about your future...that is what you have control over, you have input into... just do it.
      Old white guy with 5 careers, now getting into Apps and Social Networking marketing.
      I do these changes on my own. No one there to give me a "group hug" ...
      Just do it bro. Take the wrapper off and bite.

      Delete
  44. Hank, you will be more judged if you are older then anything else. As immigrant, I think that black people are focusing too much on how you are different instead the opposite. Here in Chicago there are initiatives to work with underprivileged people and help them up to speed with programming and technology. I think that is the only thing that needs to be done, help people rise.
    Also, building business is hard and people find all kinds of excuses why they didn't succeed.
    As far as role models, I think that point was really good of Mike, if you want to inspire kids, show them people who they can look up, not hip-hoppers talking about shooting each other but entrepreneurs, rising above their environments.

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  45. This is a sociological issue and something that manifests beyond the valley (and its industry). I think some believe it is unique in some way to the people involved with this story or to the industry in general. That is false in my opinion. If anything, I've seen this industry be more open to diversity and ethnicity than others.

    I will provide some personal perspective. As a software developer for the past 20 years, I have seen three African Americans in a company that employed over 5000 (at the R&D campus). Yes - *three*. I have seen *hundreds* of Indians, Asians, and other ethnicity (many of which earned more than I did as a Caucasian).

    The company was not adverse to hiring ethnicity (as evidenced by the diversity on campus). Rather, there simply were not any African Americans available (and I'm talking applying for jobs - not even competing).

    I think the core problem is in the African American community - it did not start that way, but life isn't fair. There is prejudice and bias for all types of people, there always will be.

    We have an African American president, but are not willing to have an African American entrepreneur? I don't think so.

    Just two cents from a white dude who works in the industry.

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  46. south indians have black skins ... do they have problems?

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  47. Living as I do in a part of the world where ethnically-different faces are exceptionally few and far between, I don't feel qualified to comment on what comes across as a problem of perception and attitude as difficult to solve as the situation in the Middle East or Northern Ireland, and in many other places in the world where prejudice (real, extreme or imagined) is a barrier to solving more pressing actual (rather than ideological) challenges.

    However, one thing that has always struck me as I venture into the tech world online is how often I see Asian - primarily Indian - team members in high-level, visible positions. I have always been impressed by the irrepressible optimism of Indian businessmen, and I think 'comparing notes' with entrepreneurs from that ethnic background might be an interesting conversation.

    Also, as more software starts to come out of China, maybe the 'silicon chip on his shoulder' remarks will mean less, and seem less mean.

    Incidentally, given the discussion is around identity, expectation and tribalism, there is a wonderful irony in the name you share, so much so that I wish your tagline was 'the other Hank Williams' (theotherhankwilliams.com is still available, and it doesn't suck!)

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  48. Hank,

    Thanks for having the courage to put this out there. With the continuous need to raise funds and make friends many would just keep their heads down and their views to themselves.

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  49. Gas, grass, or ass. Nobody rides for free.

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  50. @Hank,
    If a white rapper approached a record label wanting to be signed. Do you not believe that a white record label executive would have a similar "pattern matching" doubt that the white rapper will not be successful? A similarly talented black rapper will have a much easier chance of getting signed because of this "pattern matching."

    It not racism or sexism. It is called making an educated guess based on statistics. Yes that white rapper could turn out to be the next Eminem but unless his rapping is way above average, his chances of getting signed are slim. Access to established rappers and producers for mentoring is also slim. That is the reverse of what is happening in Silicon Valley.

    REPUTATION & RESPECT is earned not given.

    I am an African building a local search engine here in the United States. There is one thing I focus very hard on. To be the best and nothing less. I want to go "Thermonuclear" on Google and Yelp. As Steve Jobs would put it.

    If women and minorities want to be the beneficiaries of "pattern matching" in technology we need to give a lot of attention to outperforming the best. Once the statistics start showing that women or minorities create a greater percentage of successful tech companies than white males. Investors will beat a path to our door - racism or sexism be damned. They are in this for the money.

    What is lacking among women and minorities in tech is the ambition to be the best and nothing less. You will not always succeed, what is important is that you try with every breath of your being.

    However if you decide you do not care about fierce market competition and winning, you will become a victim of statistics and you will always complain about it. It is not good enough to be an exception. That does not change the statics.

    I am trying very hard to help improve Africa's reputation and I realize THE ONLY WAY TO GET RESPECT IS TO OUTPERFORM THE BEST.

    And I do not want to be the African exception, like I said, that will not change the statistics. I want to create a 100 million replicas of myself by employing Africa's poor and teaching them how to use their strength in numbers to manually create better, more detailed local search results than Google or Yelp can provide. You can bet, I am going to install in them the ambition to be the best and nothing less. It will be the only requisite to getting employed by my social business.

    If I have my way, Africa will have the world's largest concentration of technology workers within the next decade. And outperforming the best will be the law of the land. That in my opinion is how you eradicate poverty and address the problems of underperformance among blacks which result is us being victims instead of beneficiaries of "pattern matching".

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  51. Hank, I've enjoyed reading your post and the commentary that followed it. A root issue is the terrible high school graduation rates for Blacks. I suspect a study will find Blacks take fewer math and science classes too. I'm pretty sure college attendance follows a similar thread.

    I don't see an easy way to turn this around. It'll need a huge long term focus & commitment by Black leaders, parents, teachers, and students at the very least.

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  52. @itsEric, no, high school graduation rates are no excuse for bias regarding entrepreneurs in silicon valley. That's like saying since most people in china are poor and less well educated, its OK not to hire (or invest in) qualified chinese people. Please lets not confuse the issues.

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  53. Hank, I agree on the VC bias. I should have clarified I was focusing on the point of low numbers of Blacks in tech jobs.

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  54. @itsEric thanks for the clarification. Yes there is a huge problem with the numbers of blacks going into engineering. We need to convince some of our kids to become engineers instead of MBAs, Drs, and Lawyers, as well as, over all, improving the level of education which is, in and of itself, in large part an issue of bias.

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  55. Some of these comments are really depressing.

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  56. Interesting insight. Indeed. But lets asks ourselves this question: why do African-American's need TC or Arrington to have a voice in the tech world or get coverage? If someone isn't giving you equal coverage as other tech startups, that should let the Black tech community (if there's such a thing) know that it's time to get serious. I think it's safe to say there are far more Caucasians interested in tech than there are African-Americans. TC is not the only tech publication out there, we can create one for ourselves and get more AA's interested in tech and entrepreneurship.

    @ambitiousceo

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  57. @Aaron:
    Brotha, it's good to hear from you. Haven't seen you on the site lately. I think what you say is very true.

    @Edward:
    I agree. Let's not be naive to the real issue and to me that is a low number of Blacks being interested in technology. And I don't mean buying it. We should be creating one for ourselves and spotlighting our own accomplishments, nurturing our own communities and enabling our own people. Visibility is going to be key for the future. I look at Revision 3, shows like Hak5 and the such and wonder, why aren't there any black tech video shows? I'm on the road to making that a reality.

    Greg Greenlee
    Owner/Founder of Blacks In Technology
    http://www.blacksintechnology.net
    @blkintechnology

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  58. Nice post. Since you found that the " market *makers*" are the "bottlenecks", why not starting to think how to circumvent those "bottlenecks" because I don't think those "bottlenecks" will somehow overnight change their perceptions :)

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  59. "high school graduation rates are no excuse for bias regarding entrepreneurs in silicon valley. That's like saying since most people in china are poor and less well educated, its OK not to hire (or invest in) qualified chinese people. Please lets not confuse the issues."

    Hank, you seem underestimate the power of reputation and the positive or negative assumptions that accompany a reputation. An Ivy League graduate is considered a better hire than a graduate who isn't. Yes it is wrong to make that assumption but the fact is it happens. When people are betting their money on someone they don't know, this is what happens they fall back on assumptions based on reputation or statistics or patterns.

    Is it just me? Why do I keep on seeing this hesitation to compete in order for blacks to earn their reputation so that people simply assume that we are equally smart. As black people we have something to prove. Why do we hesitate to prove it?

    It bothers me when we are being outperformed by our white and Asian counterparts and we don't seem to care. That is the source of the bias. They are outperforming us in many industries and we don't give a damn.

    I would have thought that after the humiliation of slavery and colonialism black people would make it their number 1 priority to outperform their former slave and colonial masters to show them that we are not stupid. But we hesitate to compete or are not even interested in market competition. No, working for a paycheck is not competition. Working to outperform the industry leader is competition. And then we cry foul when people assume we are stupid because of our dismal performance as a race in so many industries.

    Our anger is mis-directed. We shouldn't be angry at people assuming that we are stupid. We should be angry about the fact that they are outperforming us and we are not doing anything about it.

    That is why I so much want to outperform Google to prove that Africans are not stupid. I wish that other black leaders would focus their attention on breaking stereotypes through fierce market competition instead of taking the easy route of crying foul when someone says something prejudice about blacks.

    If I was to give a talk to Howard University students I would tell them to collaborate with each other in outperforming Harvard University students. If I was to give a talk at NewMe Accelerator, I would tell the startups to collaborate with each other in outperforming Y Combinator startups.
    If you want respect and people to assume that you are smart. Simply outperform the best and the gates of opportunity will open up.

    Market competition will put an end towards bias against blacks and I am putting my money where my mouth is. If you want something done right. Do it yourself.

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  60. @Aaron:
    Amen!!! I agree with you 100%.

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  61. Wow-Aaron Kali- hits some valid points I have found from years of serving in the military that roadblocks are there to either make you or break you.

    I too try hard not to use the race or face card in establishing my points on Twitter or any other social site that is there to aid in elevating the passion I have in IT (ie. wireless networks). It is working over the years of perfecting my skills and balancing this by understanding past , present and future struggles /obstacles to being considered an authority that drives me. I want my name to be a "industry name that comes up, not because I happen to be African American. I want it to be said that this brother knows his craft well an get compensated for it because it is worth the hire. Yes there are less "people of color" in certain fields of what we call " entrepreneurial intellect" of IT. It saddens me- but I strive daily to do my part to educate "anyone " that will listen-no matter Color , Kind, Creed. I hear the voice of MLK saying this to us as People of Color : "With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

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  62. @Aaron "Market competition will put an end towards bias against blacks and I am putting my money where my mouth is."

    Spot on. Market's are colourblind (as well as gender-blind, religion-blind etc.): and that's a good thing.

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  63. 1) Good piece. Very smart, very well researched, just the right amount of bite.

    2) I live in LA, and have worked in tech firms since Earthlink. I know, off the top of my head, maybe eight or nine Black developers. Some "deep" code, mostly UI types and a content/HTML guy like me. It's super ugly.

    3) I had to school one Black designer on the game, as he was always trying to bluster and "Black" his way through things at a dot com, and was about to get fired. He calmed down, code switched and got his money.

    4) I co-own and run a website for Black geeks called Komplicated.com. I'd love to do an email interview and then possibly a video interview via SKype with you on these topics, possibly opening up a relationship to syndicate your content with us. You're fascinating. You can reach us through our "about us" page.

    5) Thanks for writing this up. Love it.

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  64. Someone brilliant once said (I believe it was a black female entrepreneur) something like:

    "The day that black women are getting funded for mediocre ideas on napkins at the same rate as mediocre ideas by white guys is the day we know we have made progress."

    ;) Thanks for this awesome post.

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  65. Aww :( I recently started a project called ++XX for female entrepreneurs / devs / designers / etc. in Seattle and am working on a links page... I'll definitely link to NewMe. (http://www.to-evolve.com/plusplusxx)

    However, I'm of the opinion in general that grassroots-style publicity often works better than attempting to get larger sources of media to pay attention. I decided to create a links page because even though the concept may seem like outdated 1990s-style webdev, I'm not aware of any central link that lists a bunch of similar organizations, and I did spend some time googling in an attempt to find one.

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  66. Hank--

    Really great piece. Way to break down a complicated issue into all the component parts.

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  67. Pattern matching is a significant problem but is far away from being a leading issue. I haven't met too many other black folk the program or work on computers either. What seems like a small amount to me would probably be overkill to you.

    Many organizations try to steer the interests of college students to fields within medicine, business, law, politics, engineering and teaching. There are definitely black programmers out there, but most of them are usually silent participants working on proprietary software that won't see use outside of their business at companies like General Motors. That combined with a smaller population means that you won't be seeing too many of us in Silicon Valley.

    Not only that but there's still plenty of misinformation out there about programming. Combine this with cities like Detroit that have high illiteracy rates and you truly will have the answer as to why you're not seeing too many people advance.

    This is a lot like an rts, any rts. Specifically I prefer Evil genius. You can use a large number of grunts/stock to do anything, but to make them advance into true positions of interest they will need to be placed on the right path for education. That just doesn't happen too often in the black community and it's not for a lack of resources.

    I myself was introduced to programming at a young age via the DAPCEP program and its' classes on learning GWBASIC on Sun workstations. I still know many of the people that attended those classes with me, very few are interested in careers that require them to learn a programming language or to use that type of knowledge in a meaningful way.

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  68. I don't mean to rant, I really did enjoy your piece. I feel like I always choose the odd or quirky thing that no one else is going to take interest in. Anime, video games, glbasic, d programming, tennis! If there truly is a bias working against us then that only means that we need to work harder and to both think and act differently whenever needed. I'm not speaking about conformance, I'm referring to changing. Success is just a bolt of lightning, excellence is a raging flood. Water changes and adapts to whatever it needs to so that it can do as it must. Lightning can only strike, and at best can be guided. It's powerful, like a fast growing start-up, but it's not going to get much done with the direction and malleability of water. Groupon is a good example of lightning in the real world right now. I'd say that Google, or to be more fair, IBM is more so the raging flood.

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  69. sorry for the triple post, I meant to edit the first but couldn't, and the second one has changed my name. I'm up way too late. You can delete this comment, I just wanted you to know that I'm not trying to pretend to be different people here!

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  70. Cmon, isn't this a bit of a stretch? Why do you jump to the conclusion that Silicon Valley is racist and backward because your company didn't get coverage on TechCrunch? I actually do agree that it's difficult for women and minorities to get access to capital in SV, but I don't think you make the case here. Tech news coverage is not racist. It's driven by traffic/pageviews. If your business isn't interesting enough to get people to read about it, reporters won't write about it. Period.

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  71. 6ee31356-0494-11e1-883b-000bcdcb5194,

    obviously, reading is not one of your strengths.

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  72. Hank I think this was well thought out and well written, and as a white Romanian Jew I may not have the perspective to really comment on this, but of course I have to.

    Personally I choose not to see color in my own life, even if it means being a little blind sometimes, I find it makes my world more palatable. That being said, I have to pick on one thing in your post.

    "Is it possible to overcome these additional barriers? I have. But it is only by a sheer persistence and focus that, few other people, white, black, or otherwise, have. While I would never suggest that I am smarter than anyone else, my Arnold-Schwartenzegger-in-Terminator like determination has made my successes possible."

    This is my experience of the startup world as well, and supposedly I match the pattern. In fact, this sounds to me like one of the most conventional pieces of silicon valley wisdom that gets posted on hacker news 20 times a day- the default state for a startup is death. Unless you have the hustle that 99 percent of the world cannot even conceive you don't stand a chance.

    I'm sure that people have had checks written for the wrong reasons. I don't like to think it's a common thing, and I refuse to believe any of those businesses succeed.

    I guess the long and short of it is, if you've made it to where you are, you know what it took to get there is what it will take to keep going, and fwiw, reading your post rings true to somebody who's supposed to match the "patterns" that make things different, so maybe our experiences are more similar, more often, than you might think.

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  73. I have mixed feelings about what you wrote. When competing for anything, an award, recognition, football, or venture capital it is a fight. The last thing anyone wants to use as an excuse is race / racism. With that said, i want to though out a different reason why we may not find more blacks in the valley. A contributor to the fact that we don't have more blacks in the valley is because we don't have as much "Social Capital". I will first tell you where I got this idea from and then I will explain how it relates to your blog on the subject.

    There is a black professor at Brown by the name of Glen Lowery and he wrote his doctoral dissertation at MIT on "Social Capital". Dr. Lowery stated in the 1970's, the doctoral student wrote that capital comes in various forms: credit, cash, precious metals, real estate, and social. The one form of capital that most of us neglect is social capital. He went on to state, if you wiped out all of racism in the United States, white people would still have the advantage, they have more "Social Capital" than blacks do.

    My point is that what we may be witnessing in Silicon Valley is a lack of Social Capital and not out and out racism.

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  74. Eryans,

    Sigh.

    Its gets so frustrating responding to people who imagine what I wrote instead of reading it.

    you say" My point is that what we may be witnessing in Silicon Valley is a lack of Social Capital and not out and out racism."

    I have said very clearly in this article that I am not calling anyone a racist. Social capital is a very good term that I use often, but whatever you call it, when one group has all of it and and doesnt invite the other groups in its a problem to be addressed. I am not labeling anything racism, I'm just trying to explain the dynamic.

    Sigh again.

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  75. "Social capital is a very good term that I use often, but whatever you call it, when one group has all of it and and doesn't invite the other groups in its a problem to be addressed."

    *****

    There is no group.

    Here's the dynamic. You were born alone and you're going to die alone. In the meantime you'll wear an assortment of label(s) because that is what you and I were programmed to do.

    But if I put you in the desert with a member of your 'group' and only one jug of water between you...There is no group as you will quickly learn. There are only egos in competition.
    Good luck Hank.

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  76. Hank, I have a couple questions to ask you, because the opinion you posted appears to be a common theme nowadays.
    1.) African-americans are a minority, so why do you expect them to have an equal or majority representation? According to the 2010 US Census data, only 12.6% of Americans are African-American. Of this 12.6%, do you expect 100% of them to be Computer Science majors, and become successful entrepreneurs nonetheless? I certainly hope not—that wouldn't be true for any demographic. Even if 100% of them were CS entrepreneurs, 12.6% would still be a minority, and therefore you (and similar-minded people) would still be unhappy with the ratio. Your mindset doesn't make sense, theoretically nor mathematically.

    2.) If people shouldn't be seen by their color, why do you say that young African-Americans need a black role model? If things should truly be color-blind as you suggest, you're creating a double-standard for yourself. As a child growing up, and to this very day, I did not see successful black leaders or white leaders. I saw successful people. The notion that they need to be black to encourage young blacks contradicts your own statement that color shouldn't matter.

    3.) I went to a very prestigious college here in America to study Computer Science. The college has a good amount of minorities attending. However, there were very few African-Americans studying specifically Computer Science at the university. Is it because the school did not select black students? No. It's because there was little interest by black students, and little interest by many students in general. Computer Science is already a small interest field compared to other majors (such as Business) and the fact that African-Americans are a minority in the general population, what makes you think that they will have a significant hold in a field that is already small when you consider all races? This goes back to my first question. And this segues into my next question:
    4.) Out of the handful of students who were Computer Science majors, guess how many were women? Less than 8%. Is it because the university was biased towards men? No. It's because there was simply no interest from women who wanted to do it. Like a previous commenter said, it's hard to give a position to someone that isn't even attempting to walk into the door. And lastly,
    5.) Can you name the female version of a "Mark Zuckerberg"? I can't either. Women are a clear minority in Silicon Valley as well, but it's not because they are women. It's because there is little interest to begin with from that demographic.

    I hope to hear a response from you.

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  77. I got hired by a small company. It was small to me because the company I had worked for previously was 10 times its size in revenue. I was so excited thinking I could grow and advance in this company and finally become a VP of something. Then I went to a meeting of senior executives and met some new senior hires. All the newly promoted or hired managers were - white, former military men, and Christian. (It was a Christian organization). I looked at the newly appointed president and he was - white, former military and Christian. There was no way in heck I was going to be a manager at that company. Is this racism? Not really, not in the terms we think of as racism ie., I don't like black people, so I won't hire them.
    Nope in the corporate world people hire lower-rung people with matching skills sets but people hire managers, executives who look like them. People hire people who resemble them because they feel comfortable with people who are most like them. It's true throughout all industries and becomes a self-fulfilling locked door for minorities. It's not about race really, it's about lack of diversity - not in skin color - but in thoughts, philosophy, class and culture. People feel uncomfortable around the unknown and blacks are virtually unknown in some industries. So blacks do what they've always done they create their own parallel world. But some blacks code - and I don't mean that in the HTML way. They codify by being as close to white as they can so as not to feel threatening or make anyone uncomfortable. It's a rigorous, exhausting, mentally draining position to be in and many African-Americans go literally crazy doing it. To this day I don't know how I got hired at that company - out of 115 employees there were only two black ones me and another lady and I was the only one in management. Guess I can code.

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    1. Oops forgot to mention I was a black female. :)

      Delete
  78. Nice post. But this is not new. The content nor the reaction in the comments. This has been the case from the jump. There is much at stake here, in terms of economic access, thus there will be resistance. What you are attempting to do is integrate not the tech world, but what many consider to be the epicenter of the tech world (I do not). I do not consider the small area in southern california know as Silicon Valley to be the center of the tech world. I think what the CNN special and your post has done a great job of doing is removing the non-sense that everything is equal if you are involved in tech. It is not. Now the veil has been lifted and we can move on to the serious business of doing for ourselves to make change happen. The way we have always done. This is our challenge. Those before us broke the barriers of political and legal access, we are now charged with equalizing the final frontier, which is the economic frontier and in 2012 that is a technological frontier.

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