Wayne Sutton has been asking venture-capital investors and Silicon Valley executives a question that’s not often broached here in the epicenter of the technology industry:
“Why aren’t there more black people in tech?”
“We live in a society where race is still a factor,” said Rey Ramsey, an African-American man who runs a political lobbying firm for the tech industry called TechNet. Referencing Facebook’s famous young founder, he added, “We’re waiting for the black Zuckerberg.”
A few standout black leaders have emerged in tech over the years, said Charles Moore, an African-American who founded Rocket Lawyer, a startup that offers online legal documents and advice. He cited Frank Greene, a pioneering semiconductor engineer turned venture capitalist who died in 2009, and Charles Phillips Jr., the former Oracle co-president, as inspirations.
Still others, like the founder of Kapor Capital, say risk-aversion within venture capital stifles changes in the demographics of entrepreneurs chosen to be financed.
“African-American candidates are much more likely not to match the pattern,” said Kapor, who hosted NewMe’s demo day at his office. “To recognize the truth is to accept that the winners at the top did so through a rigged game.”
His wife, Freada Kapor Klein, a longtime adviser to tech firms on racial diversity in employment, believes people of different racial or ethnic backgrounds can solve problems with technology that others can’t because of perspectives learned during their upbringings. Firms that recognize this, she said, should have an edge on less open-minded rivals.
The venture capitalists, including business-software designer Mitch Kapor, told them the struggles of blacks in the tech industry might be attributed to a concept called “pattern matching,” which is prevalent in venture-capital circles and yet alien to the rest of the business world.
“Silicon Valley really likes to think of itself as a meritocracy,” Kapor said. In fact, “the general state of Silicon Valley is completely backwards,” he said.
Source and complete story @: http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/11/tech/innovation/black-tech-entrepreneurs/index….
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