The 25 Most Influential African (Americans) In Technology
Diversity in Silicon Valley has become a hot topic lately.
In a one-and-a-half year long investigation, CNNMoney probed 20 of the most influential technology companies in the U.S.
What they found: racial minorities and women are generally underrepresented in management roles. And those roles are typically dominated by white and Asian men.
So yes, there are fewer blacks in tech compared to white and Asian men, but it doesn’t mean they’re not there.
Wayne Sutton, a former partner at the NewMe accelerator and founder of PitchTo, tells Business Insider that there are tons of African-Americans throughout the country doing amazing things in the field of technology, but a lot of people just haven’t heard about them.
As part of the discussion regarding blacks in technology, questions regarding racism, implicit networks, and racial bias have emerged.
“The bias in Silicon Valley is about creating great companies, solving big problems, making a lot of money, and impacting the world,” Sutton says. “That’s the bias. If you’re doing that in Silicon Valley, no matter what, you have a chance.”
But Brian Watson, an analyst at Union Square Ventures, doesn’t necessarily agree with Sutton’s sentiments.
“It’s clear that there is always a bias,” Watson tells Business Insider. “And it’s annoying and it’s frustrating, but you can get around that. There’s also an argument that because there’s a bias, in a weird way, the bias can also lead to some opportunities.”
Bias or no bias, there are a number of African-Americans in tech that are doing great things.
Some are high profile executives, some own their own venture capital firms, and others are making technology more accessible to people all over the world.
The list and rankings are subjective, so please feel free to let us know in the comments if we missed anyone.
25. Will Lucas
Founder and CEO, Creadio
Will Lucas founded brand marketing technology company Creadio back in 2003. He recently launched Classana, an educational resource discovery engine.
Lucas is also the organizer behind TedXToledo, which is now in its second year.
24. Stacy Spikes
Stacy Spikes co-founded MoviePass
Stacy Spikes’ MoviePass is one of the most exciting things to happen to the movie business in a while. It’s essentially Netflix for movies still playing in theaters.
Before co-founding MoviePass, Spikes was a long-time marketing executive who recently delved into the tech world. He’s considered one of the leaders of film entertainment marketing. Before starting MoviePass, Spikes founded the Urbanworld Film Festival, which is now the largest of its kind in the world. Urbanworld has premiered more #1 films than any other North American Film Festival, including Sundance and Tribeca.
23. Hamet Watt
Hamet Watt is a former entrepreneur in residence at True Ventures. Before co-founding MoviePass alongside Stacy Spikes, he founded full-service media buying platform NextMedium, and health app bLife.
22. Don Charlton
CEO, The Resumator
Don Charlton has changed the way hiring gets done online.
During the most recent presidential election, both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney used The Resumator to handle all of the job applications coming in.
Before founding The Resumator, Charlton established himself as an award-winning interactive designer.
21. Majora Carter
Founder, Sustainable South Bronx, Startup Box: South Bronx
Majora Carter recently opened up a new startup incubator and tech education center in South Bronx to foster entrepreneurship.
“There is a dramatic shortage of engineering talent in the U.S. labor force, and we want to fill that gap with people who could otherwise end up in the criminal justice and welfare systems,” she recently told Fast Company. She says most of the talent in the South Bronx either leaves or doesn’t get “nurtured into something positive.”
In 2010, Carter was touted as one of the 100 most creative people in business. She’s also a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster.
20. Wayne Sutton
Founder and CEO, PitchTo
Wayne Sutton founded PitchTo to help investors make smarter decisions and entrepreneurs perfect their pitches.
Before founding PitchTo, Sutton was a partner at the NewMe accelerator where he advised startups in product development and customer acquisition strategies, among other things. Sutton has more than 10 years worth of experience in Internet technology, and has advised numerous startups, including Tioki, Gokit, and StockofU.
19. Kimberly Bryant
Kimberly Bryant wants to ensure that young black girls have the opportunity to learn how to code. In 2011, Bryant founded BlackGirlsCode, a six-week program that teaches basic programming concepts, and gives underrepresented youths the chance to learn about robotics, and a wide range of other technological concepts.
Before founding BlackGirlsCode, Bryant spent about decade in biotechnology where she held several management roles at companies including Genentech, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, and Merck.
18. Jon Gosier
Founder and CEO, MetaLayer
Serial entrepreneur Jon Gosier is the mastermind behind data analysis startup MetaLayer, global innovation consultancy Appfrica, and non-profit organizations HiveColab and Abayima.
Gosier is a senior fellow at TED who has given talks on topics including the democratization of data platforms and social currency.
17. Tony Gauda
CEO and co-founder, Bitcasa
Tony Guada’s Bitcasa entered the online storage market with a major point of differentiation: infinite storage for its users.
Gauda launched Bitcasa at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference back in 2011. Gauda and his co-founder have been able to attract $7 million funding from some of the most well-respected venture capital firms in the business, including Horizon Ventures, Andreessen-Horowitz, and First Round Capital.
Gauda previously engineered fraud protection systems at Mastercard.
16. Angela Benton
Founder, CEO at NewMe Accelerator
NewMe is an accelerator geared toward minorities. It was featured in CNN’s Black in America: The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley in 2011.
Benton launched NewMe alongside co-founder Wayne Sutton. Prior to NewMe, Benton launched BlackWeb20.com, an online publication for African-Americans interested in technology and new media.
15. Brian Watson
Analyst, Union Square Ventures
Before joining USV in 2012, Watson worked at Organizing for America, Trendrr, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Gilt Groupe.
Now he works alongside prominent tech executives like Brad Burnham, Fred Wilson, and Albert Wenger.
14. Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel cofounded Socialcam.
Michael Seibel has two successful startups under his belt: live video streaming service Justin.tv and social video app SocialCam.
In 2012, Seibel and his startup SocialCam got acquired for $60 million by 3D design software company Autodesk just 18 months after launching.
Seibel’s success has recently earned him a spot as a part-time partner at Silicon Valley’s most prestigious accelerator, Y Combinator.
13. Charles Hudson
Partner at SoftTech VC
In addition to investing in early-stage companies with SoftTech VC, Hudson is also an entrepreneur.
He is the co-founder and CEO of Bionic Panda Games. Hudson has also been involved with the event company Social Gaming Summit, which Mediabistro eventually acquired. He’s also been involved with social game developer Serious Business, a company that Zynga later acquired.
12. Kanyi Maqubela
Partner, Collaborative Fund
Kanyi Maqubela has worked in consumer technology since 2006. But he’s quickly climbed up the ladder from a serving as a field director at solar leasing and sales company One Block Off the Grid to a venture partner at Collaborative Fund.
Maqubela joined Collaborative Fund as entrepreneur in residence in 2011, and became a full-time partner in December 2012.
11. Tristan Walker
Tristan Walker was an early Foursquare member. Now he’s headed to the venture side.
EIR, Andreessen Horowitz
Before joining Andreessen Horowitz, Walker worked at Foursquare as director of business development for about two and a half years. Walker was one of Foursquare’s earliest employees, joining the company only after sending several emails to Foursquare founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai.
While at Foursquare, Walker helped form partnerships with Bravo, MTV, CNN, The New York Times, NBA, and Starbucks.
10. Erik Moore
Founder and Managing Partner, Base Ventures
Moore has invested in nearly two dozen startups, including TracksBy, Ecomom, and Socialcam. He was also among the first investors to finance Zappos, a shoes and apparel company that sold to Amazon for $1.2 billion.
Moore spent 15 years in investment banking at Merrill Lynch before pursuing his entrepreneurship. In 2010, he co-founded FlickrLaunch, a digital streaming platform on Facebook for feature-length movies.
Today, Moore continues to support and invest in startups through his firm Base Ventures.
9. Ty Ahmad-Taylor
Head of Smart TV Services, Samsung
Ty Ahmad-Taylor has a vast background in media and technology. In 2008, Ahmad-Taylor founded real-time sports aggregator service FanFeedr. In 2012, Samsung acquired FanFeedr and Ahmad-Taylor came on board with Samsung.
Before starting FanFeedr, Ahmad-Taylor was the senior vice president for strategy and product development at MTV Networks’ Music & Logo Group. Prior to MTV, Ahmad-Taylor a held executive roles at Comcast.
8. Ime Archibong
Manager of Strategic Partnerships, Facebook
Ime Archibong is the guy in charge of Facebook’s music and video strategy. Archibong manages Facebook’s relationships with companies like Spotify, Hulu, and Netflix.
Archibong joined Facebook back in 2010. Before that, Archibong worked at IBM in its business development department, where he handled the licensing of IBM’s technology.
7. Malik Ducard
Director of content partnerships, YouTube
Ducard is responsible for developing partnerships between YouTube and film, TV, and new media companies. Under Ducard’s leadership, YouTube launched YouTube Live, started offering movie rentals from Paramount Pictures, and partnered with ABC News, Al Jazeera English, BuzzFeed, and other news organizations for presidential election coverage back in 2012.
Before joining Google in 2010, Ducard served as the senior vice president of digital distribution at Paramount.
6. Lisa Lambert
VP and Managing Director of Software and Services, Intel Capital
Lambert joined Intel Capital back in 1999. Before that, Lambert held an executive role at Intel’s Desktop Products Group, where she was responsible for the Pentium II and III processing systems.
She’s invested in and helped exit companies including VMWare, Financial Engines, OpenFeint, and MySQL.
5. Kirk McDonald
McDonald joined digital media platform PubMatic in October 2011, bringing with him more than two decades of experience at media companies like Time and CNET.
Last year, AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher reported that Yahoo was looking to buy ad tech companies, including Pubmatic.
4. Ken Coleman
Chairman, MIPS Technologies, Inc
Kenneth Coleman is a long-time tech veteran, having held numerous executive positions at technical computing company SGI, video game company Activision, and Hewlett Packard.
Today, Coleman serves on the board of two public tech firms: MIPS Technologies and scientific enterprise software company Accelrys.
Coleman also previously founded enterprise software company ITM.
3. David Drummond
Senior Vice President — Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, Google
David Drummond has been involved with Google since the search giant’s early days. While working as a partner at law firm Wilson & Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, he served as Google’s first outside counsel. Drummond was right there alongside Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin when the company was raising its first fundraising rounds, and also helped them incorporate the company.
Today, Drummond continues to lead Google’s teams for legal, government relations, and corporate development. He’s played a huge role in defending Google against antitrust regulators in Europe.
2. Shellye Archambeau
Shellye Archambeau came on board with enterprise software provider MetricStream in 2002 as its chief executive officer. Archambeau also holds a board position at media and marketing firm Arbitron.
In her career, Archambeau has held several executive roles at companies including Arbitron, Loudcloud, NorthPoint Communications, and Inc. In 2000, Internet World named her one of the top 25 “Click and Mortar” executives in the country.1. John Thompson
CEO, Virtual Instruments
During Thompson’s senior year at Florida A&M University, he joined IBM as a sales representative. He ended up staying for 28 years, and eventually rose to become general manager of IBM Americas.
In 1999, Thompson got an offer from Symantec that he couldn’t turn down: the chance to be president and chief executive officer of the cloud security giant. He eventually retired in 2009, but started investing in early-stage startups.
Cloud computing startup Virtual Instruments was one of them. In 2009, Thompson joined Virtual Instruments’ board of directors, and stepped in as CEO in 2010. He only intended to stay for a few months, but investors would only finance the company if Thompson stayed on board as CEO.