(Part 2) Veteran Tech CEOs Tell Stories of Bias in Silicon Valley
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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(Image: Corey J. Stanford, Founder & CEO of Para Music Group)

The discussion around the lack of diversity in tech continued with the first White House Demo Day. Whether it is within the Silicon Valley workforce, venture capitalist circles, or among founders of tech startups, blacks are having a hard time penetrating the world of innovation, which is run almost entirely by white and Asian men.

[RELATED: (Part I) Veteran Tech CEOs Tell Stories of Bias in Silicon Valley]

Black Enterprise asked three veteran CEOs with proven track records in the tech industry to talk about their experiences with racism and discrimination. Here are their responses.

Corey J. Stanford, Founder/CEO
Founder/CEO, Blazetrak,  a video response platform for music professionals Founder/CEO, Para Music Group, a technology platform used to discover talent and engage fans

Have you experienced racism while trying to build your company?
I haven’t experienced any blatant form of racism in Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley. However, I do feel as though our capital raising efforts were not successful due to the fact that we were a minority startup. We had verifiable proof of concept and were cashflow positive, and we still were not able to raise sufficient capital. We even went as far as making one of the co-founders, who is Caucasian, the CEO of the company for the purposes of opening doors. Our efforts were still unsuccessful.

When you’re running a black startup, it is automatically assumed that your service or product will be less than stellar. This assumption is made by many races, including the black race. This puts you at a disadvantage before you even walk through the door to take a meeting. Some perceive it as a racist gesture while others perceive it simply as a lack of exposure to black startups. I can personally count hundreds of times where I’ve gone to a tech conference, spoken on a tech panel, and participated in tech competitions and was the only person of color in the entire room.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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