Lessons from The ‘Visible Man’ In Silicon Valley


‘The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of qualified people of  colour out there, who can and should be working in the technology industry.’ – Drummond, David (Snr. Vice President Of Corporate Development at Google).

Apart from China, America is arguably the second fastest growing financial and political powerbase in the world. It is totally dominated by white men.

At Silicon Valley, the story is perfectly the same. Most of these startups are owned by the whites. Until Tristan’s recent success, only Drummond David, according to  an unknown source, is regarded as the only black celebrity in Silicon Valley.

Here Is A Past Event Which Reveals Abounding Racism In Silicon Valley 

Few months ago, a technology program organized by CNN to place emphasis on the lack of African – American entrepreneurs was conveyed through the eyes of eight individuals participating in the NewMe Accelerator.

NewMe, owned by Angela Benton and Wayne Sutton, is purposely designed to put African – American entrepreneurs through a robust nine-week camp in preparation of a funding pitch.
Participants, armed with bankable ideas, were crammed into a small house in Mountain View, California, for a nine – week program.

The group met with business owners, venture capitalist and angel investors to discuss about strategy. They worked day and night to make their ideas reasonable and resourceful.

During one particular meeting, an Indian – American and Duke University professor, came to the house to speak with the group. He made it clear to the group that while pitching his idea to investors, he was advised to hire a ‘white guy’ to lead his company. He did it and it proved worthwhile.

Also, here are some less known facts about Google, Facebook and Apple.

Here is the whole truth. First and foremost, Google – a search engine company – owned by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, comprises of 46,000 employees. Out of the 46,000 , only two percent or one percent of its employees are black. Secondly, facebook – a social media platform- founded by Mark Zuckerberg, seemingly hates to employ or hire African or African – American entrepreneurs. Only 1% of its employees are black. Thirdly, although Apple has 425 retail locations, according to fast company’s J.J. McCorvey , only 7% of its employees are black.  I’m sure most of us are aware of minority representation in the technology industry. It is a deplorable situation.

In spite of this, if not all, most of us are envious about startups or entrepreneurs situated within silicon valley. To get hired or work as an intern at foursquare or become an entrepreneur in residence at Andreessen Horowitz is a  milestone. Although our dream of seeing black entrepreneurs take the center stage and attract global attention is yet to be achieved, at least, a former intern at twitter, who is of African descent, is working extremely hard to bring honor to the black community.

  ‘Once a Foursquare employee, he is challenging the race issue in Silicon Valley.’ – Megan R. Dickey (of Business Insider)   

He is the only black celebrity in Silicon Valley. He was once an entrepreneur in residence at Andreesen Horowitz. Whilst there, he conceived and cooked up the idea of a healthy brand for people of colour. In other words, his main aim is angled at the lack of diversity in silicon valley. At Silicon Valley, the majority perceive him to be key player to aid in resolving lack of diversity.

He is the founder of Walker and Company. This ‘Visible Man’ is Tristan Walker – a former product of Standford Business School.

How He Rose To Become A Key Player In Silicon Valley Remains A Mystery.

Silicon Valley is a community of wonderful innovators, but lack of diversity is its main bane. However, it seems almost impossible for  black entrepreneurs  to attract media attention. Worst of all, those arrogant, bragging, top chief executives occasionally mock the black community in Silicon. Whites are supreme; blacks are not! We can’t accept the fact that African entrepreneurs have never been to Silicon Valley. It is a disgraceful fallacy to confirm the non-existence of African or African – American entrepreneurs in Silicon.

Almost three years ago, Ghanaian entrepreneurs, namely, David Osei, Kamil Nabong, and Philips Effah of Dropifi – an online tool that helps businesses to sort customers or consumers feedback online made it to Silicon. They succeeded due to the 500 Startups program of  Silicon Valley-based seed accelerator and investment fund. Thus, we can accede to it. But the main question is, were they regarded as key players in Silicon? Nevertheless, Dropifi is one of Ghana’s finest startup.

At least, we can depend on their previous feat as badge of Success and honor to the black or African community. Apart from these Ghanaian entrepreneurs, other African tech. startups likely to come out successful at Demo Africa, a pitch session event organized by Lions@africa, are given the opportunity to connect with other startups in Silicon Valley. Hence, it is unreasonable to compare these entrepreneurs to Andreesen Horowitz’s darling.

What makes Tristan’s recent greatness somehow unusual and a mystery is that, it is coming from a community where diversity is hardly accepted and being black is almost an impediment to success. According to CB’s previous inquiry, just 1% of venture capital-backed founders are black. It is up to you to do the reasoning. Against the backdrop of CB’s recent research, can we picture a beam of light at the end of  the tunnel for African entrepreneurs?  Can black entrepreneurs survive only in Africa and not in western countries?

One Lesson : Being Black Is Not A Curse! ; It Is A Blessing In Disguise. Creativity Wins.

It is absolutely dim–witted for Africans  to run away from racism. Racism is an inevitable disease. It is impossible to  escape. There is an axiom which says : ‘You can not dodge or escape warfare. The best one can do is to fight strategically.’ This is the same principle Tristan willingly decided to follow.

In Silicon Valley, Racism is prevalent. Although a handful of Silicon entrepreneurs decry such evidence, this situation is obvious to those inside( and even the outsiders). As I stated earlier, majority of startups situated in or about Silicon Valley prefer to hire or employ more whites than blacks.

Tim Cook’s Apple takes the biscuit. Although it has 425 retail in diverse locations, only 7% of its employees are black. Also in the first or second section of this piece, I stated that lack of diversity is one of Silicon’s woes. Hence, to survive as an entrepreneur in silicon, startups from Africa must be totally prepared to resolve the dearth of diversity.

Although this article is not totally centered on Tristan Walker, his recent achievement could be used as an example to entreat other blacks to ignore the negative effect of racism. He saw a great opportunity to resolve the lack of diversity and subdue those arrogant chief executives.

His motive to brand a grooming product for men of colour made the difference. He is the only black celebrity in the house. Acquainted with the fact that he is the only black entrepreneur in Silicon, any unique idea to alleviate the dearth of diversity in silicon could yield good fruits in the immediate future. And it did likewise.

Anyone willing to repeat this great feat should endeavor to follow this principle : Ignore the negative effect of racism. Produce creative ideas. Finally, being black is a blessing in disguise.  

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2 Responses to “Lessons from The ‘Visible Man’ In Silicon Valley”

  1. Hank Wilson

    How about steal some technologies and start your own company. Hell, you know everybody else are looting Africa and they have been looting mother Africa for the last twenty-five hundred years!!

  2. Hank Wilson

    Hell, if Africans, can beg for aid and allow foreign coporations to steal three times as much as the so called aid-giver donate to Africa, then what's wrong with stealing technologies? Africans need to stop stealing money and commodities and start stealing technologies. Damn, do I have to walk you to the piss-bucket too, and then show you all how to piss? Just saying, know what I mean??


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