The documentary alone will not create a 100% meritocracy in Silicon Valley but has sparked discussion that didn’t exist about Black Web tech start-ups. Kloudco founder Hank Williams did an interesting analyst in his “Tech Industry Silence is Deafening on #BlackInAmerica” post. Only three people from Rob Schoble‘s Influential Tech Industry list joined the discussion. With #BlackInAmerica being a trending topic the night of the doc’s premier, it’s not likely these tech savvy people missed it. As a note, popular start-up publication, TechCrunch, which routinely reports on the demo days and does extensive profiles of the other accelerator participants, didn’t mention it at all. In response, here’s my 5-point recap. —Hajj Flemings
Black In America 4 inspired meetings and panel discussions around the nation.
Here are a few of the cities that held self-hosted pre-screening: Atlanta, Austin, Detroit, New York, Silicon Valley, and many more.
High School Workshops: Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) (Detroit, MI) and Mastery Charter School Campus (Philadelphia, PA).
Conferences: The Black Angel Summit at Rutgers University hosted by America21.
Most Interesting Comments in the Documentary
“Get a White guy to be your front man,” Vivek Wadhwa, mentor in the NewME Accelerator
Vivek, made one of the most controversial statements of the documentary, but it raised a very important question for African American tech entrepreneurs: if you want to be successful, is this the secret recipe? Would you add someone to your team purely based upon color? Is it more important to have the right people on the team regardless of color? In early stage start-ups, one of the three factors that’s going to be looked is the team. So making sure you have a solid team is going to be critical.
Arrington’s statement was more eye opening then anything else. The comment started a conversation that went viral online. At the end of the day he was just communicating the harsh reality that African Americans are visibly missing from this part of the economy.
For Black entrepreneurs to have a significant impact in the Web tech start-up space, start-ups are going to need to have access to capital. One of the issues that was apparent is the lack of Black angel investors and venture capital firms. At the end of the day, people invest their money in people that look like them. Economic parity will be critical in scaling the number of Web tech start-up founders.
Leave a comment and let us know what your take-a-ways were from the CNN documentary.
CNN’s Black In America 4: The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley re-airs November 19th and 25th (Thanksgiving) at 8pm and 11pm EST.