Where Are All The Black Tech Entrepreneurs?

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I know most white tech Bloggers would not touch this question with a ten foot poll but I will give it a shot. Here is the question from last Sundays questions:

Lance Bailey asks:
HEY SHOE where are all the blacks in technology. I can name a ton of suits who are vp’s or executives for major corporations, but when it comes to being founders or the creative mind behind a website or technology they are usually absent. I know race has nothing to do with it . Its more about exposure. I am not complaining, but i just notice that at local user groups and code fest I am usually the only black kid there. How do i expose other to this entrepreneur movement that’s going on online?

I grew up in a area called the Quad Cities west of Chicago in Illinois. There is a huge Latino and African American population there. Looking back on my childhood some of my closest friends were African American. I was highly influenced by the African American culture. I listened to Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace (AKA Notorious B.I.G.). I went to a lot of BBQ’s and family events with my African American friends. I was a part of many of their family’s.

Alright so lets break down the questions.

HEY SHOE where are all the blacks in technology. I can name a ton of suits who are vp’s or executives for major corporations, but when it comes to being founders or the creative mind behind a website or technology they are usually absent?

When I was in the corporate world and held many IT jobs I worked with many African Americans. There are a lot of very savvy African American tech people out there. Some of the best network engineers I worked with were African American. So I guess I agree with you that there are a lot of tech savvy African American people in the tech workforce.

Now as far as the founder or creative mind behind a website – I have had this very discussion with a lot of my childhood African American friends. With one of my most successful websites I actually registered a legal alias of Mike Lowery and used a picture of Will Smith in bad boys as my avatar. I did business with a lot of people who thought I was a African American so it certainly did not hurt me from being incredible successful with absolutely no budget what so ever.

As far as the rest of your question:

I know race has nothing to do with it . Its more about exposure. I am not complaining, but i just notice that at local user groups and code fest I am usually the only black kid there. How do i expose other to this entrepreneur movement that’s going on online?

I am not sure what you mean by exposure?

I have tried to encourage my African American friends to take advantage of racial positions. I registered blacknn.com years ago and had the idea of creating a “Black News Network” where African American’s could contribute news. Each of my African American friends I approached were excited about the idea but none of them wanted to take on the extra work in addition to their day job or none of them were in the position to quit their day jobs to go for it. Also none of them had the skill set really in managing a web server and programming.

I think there is a HUGE need for service oriented websites that cater to minorities. Get after it man! Such opportunities!

So why aren’t there more African American founders of companies? I am purely guessing here but perhaps its because there are not many African American programmers? If you look at the founders of most big websites/companies that were founded by low or no budgets (Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Myspace) they were all founded by programmers. Maybe a better question is why are there not more African American programmers? and the answer to that question I don’t know.

155 thoughts on “Where Are All The Black Tech Entrepreneurs?

  1. Pingback: autocarsinsurance.net » Blog Archive » Where Are All The Black Tech Entrepreneurs?

  2. Brian

    Good topic. First, I am African- American and I believe the lack of programming skills plays a part, but proportionally the number of “successful” black tech entrepreneurs probably is comparable to that of many other races. The reality is that a very small percentage of tech entrepreneurs are making much money at all, regardless of race. But believe me there a tons of black people out here trying the same things that people of every other race are trying.

    I attended Elite Retreat earlier this year, only black person out of 30, and one of my main takeaways is that there are some amazingly talented people at the conference, but the separating factor was the ability to program. You could tell, by the type of projects they were working on and how quickly they could make changes. The ability to automate processes and mundane tasks is huge.
    Secondly, you can outsource the programming, but the problem there is the person will probably take your idea or you will not scope of the requirements well enough, that the finished project is not close to what you wanted or expected. Then to actually get the coder to finish the project is at least 4 months after they committed to.

    I would agree that there are still some huge opportunities online targeted towards African-Americans or any other ethnic group for that matter. But until programming skills improve, will not be much improvement. As to why there are not more African-American programmers?? There are some, but many work for corporations and may be entrepreneurs, but until they hit it big, they will be like many of the other people reading this post, trying ideas and business models until one sticks. I think you will be surprised to the number of African-American’s that are readers of Shoemoney and respond to this post.

        1. Writers Needed- Make $250 an hour

          I am sooo glad that you wrote this topic! As you should know, I am bi-racial and have found the topic to be very home hitting, to say the least.

          See, in the african-american community, we are taught that there are 2 professions to go in when in college; business, and nursing. I’m not speaking for everyone, but this is what was taught in my family and other african-american families.

          Seeing that technology is very popular, (just look in the bookmarking social sites), I really don’t understand why there are more african-americans trying to touch basis in this subject.

          As, I was browsing through a social bookmarking site, I only recently learned that technology was the MOSt popular subject. This outranked entertainment and Politics! You would think that technology would be a great focus in the african american community, but I think other things are a focus in this race such as; entertainment, clothes and food. I don’t know if this is because of the marketing that is geared towards african-americans, but it is a fact that african americans are the BIGGEST consumers in the world!

      1. Tushar Dhoot

        I agree. From what I have heard, it is often harder for black people to get a well paid job and education in USA, just because of stereotyping and racism. So maybe they don’t want to risk it all by becoming a full-time entrepreneur?

        1. Matt

          @Tushar – if that were the case, becoming an entrepreneur would be exactly what they want to do. The extent of racism in the US is by no means greater than in many other parts of the world I’ve witnessed. We just make a lot more noise about it here than in other nations (often rightfully so).

    1. BusinessX

      Like all of MMO it’s in the numbers. Minorities in the US are 33% of population, with African-Americans being 13.5% of the total US population. Meaning a mogul just based upon that is 66% likely to be white or 86.5% not to be African-american. Throw back into the equation social demographics like early access to technology and business access to capital, the likely hood of a black high tech titan is even more unlikely.

      After all, how many high tech guru’s are there? What would be the parameters of definition? Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Mark Cuban, Jerry Yang, Steve Jobs & Wozniak, Larry Ellison, makes seven. How many more are there?

      I think there is a definite answer, but it would take real research to pry it out.

    2. Danny B

      Wow! There are definitely a million socio-economic factors to consider, but that doesn’t mean anything.

      Business is a meritocracy. People would love Warren Buffet if he was a giant man eating gorilla. Race doesn’t play that large of a role. You can’t force african americans to become successful.

      I think that as a whole the average white male is exposed to better education, more opportunities, etc. etc.

      All we can hope to do is give everyone the same chance to excel. The cream will rise to the top.

      1. SEO Tips South Africa

        Unfortunately entepreneurship is encouraged more in certain cultutural groups than others, and opportunities are also less in poorer communities, hence the discrepancy. Fixing this is a great challenge, one us South Africans are challenged to overcome as a nation too.

  3. Alex at Net-Entrepreneur.com

    Way to go for picking up on that question. When I browsed through the list I thought, ‘yea right…’

    You say you’ve grown up with many African-American friends so you probably know better, but maybe it’s a cultural thing. Higher aspirations and a mindset of an (over)achiever will get you as far away from programming as possible.

    Cheers,
    Alex

    1. jim

      I don’t think higher aspirations necessarily gets you away from programming, you always have to start from the basics and if you want to work in any technology you have to know how to program (or at least think in terms of designing a system or software app).

  4. lawrenceq

    I feel you Shoe! I’m black, and I have dreams of doing big things in this industry. I jumped in the affiliate game head first years ago but never had any real success. I finally decided it would be best for me to learn some programming, so I’m headed back to school in January. I could probably buy some books and teach myself, but I have some G.I. Bill money left to burn.

    If you were me, what kind of classes would you take? I

    1. Manofsteel

      Don’t bother with classes for programming. If you can’t be self taught then it might not be for you. For classes, focus on taking communication type classes. Look for classes which are heavy in writing. Few people can write well. The most valuable class i have ever taken was technical writing. Getting an instructors feedback in this type of stuff is invaluable. After that, whatever you are interested in I guess.

      1. lawrenceq

        Don’t get me to lying to you. I need to improve my skills in every area.

        I think this is a great post.

    2. Mike Henry

      The best learning is to pick up a copy of Teach yourself [insert your programming language] in 24 hrs and read it. Stick with the open source stuff. Most languages are included on the popular distrubutions of linux and many of those will boot and run off CD.

  5. John Kane

    Grew up in same area around same time, In that time most people did not want or care about computers as much as now. I delivered papers every morning before school to save for a computer. The computer was more important to me then a car.

    In today’s society computers are more accessible and socially acceptable so more and more diverse groups will be on the internet, creating more and more. A while ago I ran a video game store in a lower income area and could see more and more lower income kids who new computers and how to use them. When I was that age I new nothing….The next five years will change this outlook dramatically.

    1. Dick

      I think the problem is not only the difference between social groups and income levels. I think the problem is people and their desire to work.

  6. DjBigDaddy

    I can tell you why there is a huge gap. Black programmers. Being black myself it’s rare for me to encounter black programmers and I have lived everywhere from New Orleans, Hawaii, N. Carolina, to my current place now in New York City. You don’t really have to know how to program to get in the game but a lot of people think that you do.

    Just like you said there is a lot of minorities in the tech fields, but not a lot of programmers. Even on my twitter list that are full of people that have blogs or work in IT but only two other blacks are programmers. So most of them when they need web help they go to someone else instead of trying it themselves.

    I try to break the misunderstanding that you have to be some sort of super coder to do affiliate marketing but some are still reluctant to do so. Since I am known for digging in deep with the code (assembly, c++, etc) they think that you have to study what I study. I tell them that I do that for fun but to earn money on the net is more about marketing than programming skills. i am trying my best to bring more people on board and change this perception. I am encouraged though that more and more minorities are joining in.

    1. Mike Henry

      The guys question of exposure meant how to get more minorities in and help them get started.

      This question implies that there is a lack of black minorities that are successful on the internet. I’ve never marketed myself as a “white” IT guy or a “man” IT guy.

  7. Herb

    What’s up, Shoe. You’re right; most white tech bloggers (esp. high-profile) rarely cover this area – good looking out. My name is Herb and I am the Founder of BlackBottom.com – a Black Video Sharing website (we’re known as the “Black YouTube”). To address the question – I don’t think the lack of Founders is attributable to lack of programmers – there are plenty of opportunities outside of programming (affiliate marketing, buying/selling domains, etc.) where one can start and run a successful business (I started out writing video games, developed websites, bought/sold domain names, etc.). The key actually isn’t even technical – you will be successful in whatever you do but you must 1) Do it and 2) Follow-through. Now there are plenty of other lessons that you’ll learn along the way (do your due diligence, fail fast, etc.), but it’s really going to depend on those, IMO. Also, For some of the new entrepreneurs considering the African-American space, check out resources like BlackWeb20.com to see opportunities and people involved.

      1. Herb

        Maybe, maybe not. Through my experience there are plenty of “problems” and plenty of “solutions” – do what works best for you and your audience. The 100Ks of folks that come to BlackBottom.com each month love it; it works for myself and many of them. Define what you believe the challenge is and then address it – you’d be surprised at what “needs” are addressed.

      2. Anon

        This is so true. What’s with all the black-only stuff? There are virtually no white-only things (of any significance, obviously excluding extremists), so why do people insist on creating a black equivalent?

        If I started a white-only music awards ceremony (MOWOs), or a white-only website, do you think people would complain and shout racist? Of course they would. But no-one dares suggest that a balck person might be racist under the same circumstances (and I’m not, in case you were wondering – black-only isn’t racist, but it isn’t exactly helping integration and equality, is it?).

        Once we stop noticing the fact we’re different colours, it won’t matter anymore (as it shouldn’t), and we can get on with living our lives as people, not colours.

        1. alamar

          Hi Anon,

          I see your point and agree with it mostly. However on the flipside, minorities do benefit from sharing their experiences amongst themselves. Issues that affect blacks and other minority groups generally are not discussed or even recognised on mainstream platforms so alternatives arise organically to meet those needs.

    1. Mars

      a white person born in South Africa requesting citizen ship in the US would be considered an African American

  8. Jay

    I was watching that Team Cyprus http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/10/10/team-cyprus-move-to-undo-the-video/ video the other day and sat here in my chair and wondered… where in the hell are the black people in this video. It’s been a motivational piece for me ever since. I want to be the first African American to make it big in Silicon Valley or Alley. Whichever comes first.

    Where are the African Shoemoneys, Matt Cutts and Godins?

    I don’t even remember seeing any sites on TechCrunch that are geared towards African Americans or African American culture. Have a look at Hypebeast.com. It’s a fashion website mainly around the hip-hop subculture and it does DAMN well!

    And last but not least, I like Twitter, but I rarely see any brothers tweeting.

  9. Mark Hankins

    It’s a tired, old trope that african american boys see athletics and entertainment as a way to succeed versus more academic or business pursuits, but there may be some truth in it.

    Looking back on my friendship with a successful black government attorney, one thing I noticed was a bias against entrepreneurs and businesspeople and a more “New Deal” era borderline socialist mindset, in fact the same mindset we see in the Obama campaign.

    African americans came in chains. Sparks of initiative were rewarded with beatings, being sold down the river, and even lynchings. The Bible says that the scars of sins persist for seven generations, and they were mightily sinned against (the firehoses and church bombings were not so long ago). But I’d say the mindset that has held African americans back will not persist much longer.

    1. DjBigDaddy

      you asked the question a very different way than shoe asked it. But to tell the truth I didn’t think it was as bad as people made it out to be.

  10. Mitch

    It’s not as easy as it sounds, going out on your own when you’re a black entrepreneur. I’d know, that’s for sure. My main profession is as a health care consultant, and there’s very, very few blacks who do what I do. You know it when you first get into a facility and suddenly all heads turn, or when you see the head of the person you’re meeting have that little jerk when they first set eyes on you. Of course, being online should be a different thing, but it does take a lot of time if you’re hoping to get it all right, as I’m finding with my secondary, online business.

    At least for now, we have Willie Crawford to look to. lol

  11. mrkbsm

    I don’t think that it’s a problem of kids needing exposure to computers, so much as it is kids needing exposure to the world of building websites (and more importantly, the _opportunities_ available to them on the internet).
    I grew up with plenty of people that were exposed to computers from a relatively young age. That crowd of friends only increased in college and today many of them are amazing programmers, admins, and engineers. None of them are web entrepreneurs – it wasn’t something we were exposed to either by colleagues or classwork.
    I even coded html in college for a few simple sites of my own but I never considered taking that road anywhere because I was a poor site designer. My sites were ugly, so I figured that was a limiting factor and carried on toward other careers. I was completely unaware of the opportunities that existed in affiliate marketing, website promotion, etc. I didn’t know anybody that did such things, and I was never exposed to that “world”.
    I think that will start to change though – there are more people doing it, there are more blogs to stumble across (shoemoney, etc), and there is generally more information available. Also, the “jump” to internet entrepreneur is also a smaller one now… Almost everyone today goes from e-mailing to Facebooking to blogging without much difficulty. The leap from there to web entrepreneur is not a large one.
    If you’re looking to introduce people to the “entrepreneur movement”, I’d say start a local meetup (quarterly, monthly, weekly, whatever), mentor a few high school kids, advise somebody while they’re get a site going, etc. Those are just a few ideas. Meeting a person that is an entrepreneur is about the best exposure they can get. I think that applies regardless of racial or financial background. Just my 2 cents.

  12. George Boone

    Oh we’re out here alright ;)

    I have a whole lout to say on this subject as a double minority (black latino) but alas, I have to get to work competing with all you white people in adwords :D

  13. Dave

    This will continue to change as African-American children receive fuller access to computers and the Internet.

    Barack Obama being elected as President would be a positive development as well, giving African-American children a sense of empowerment.

    We’ll see more African-American entrepreneurs over the coming years, just like we’ll see more females as Fortune 500 CEOs. There is a fundamental shift in the business landscape of America that is currently underway, and the glass ceilings are being shattered left, right and center.

    1. Lance Bailey

      “This will continue to change as African-American children receive fuller access to computers and the Internet. ”

      that’s what i meant by exposure

  14. tttt

    There are black internet entrepreneurs however, most tend to be focused on hip hop, black entertainment etc. So, many are not relevant to the general public. 2nd, their are a lack of black programmers in comparison to the general population. AA make up ~13% of America but probably not more than 5% of the tech population. I am a AA however, i am into internet marketing. I do not program, but i do have general knowledge about programming which helps. I think their are multiple reasons for the lack of knowledge/trust when accessing startup capital and many social-economic reasons.

  15. teamray

    Very GOOD TOPIC. I’m black myself but i notice most of the black people that are involved in tech are usually more focus on the front end graphical side then the actual programming. I know many talented black graphic designers the problem is they tend to stay in the graphics area and dont venture out into the programming domain. Beside the youtube guy chad hurley you rarely hear about front end guys mentioned as founders. Growing up most black that i know were hacking on photoshop trying to create club brochures , and school brochures while their white counterparts are hacking linux etc……

  16. Solomon Folks

    We are here! We were one the first companies that launched a web-based service/product using Ruby on Rails over 2 years ago. We have helped over a dozen startups design, develop, and market their web apps. The reason that there are not more of us in this area of technology has to do with our ideas of success. Success for most african-americans is a stable, well paying jobs with a Fortune 500 company(with benefits). Unless you come from a family of entrepreneurs (I do), this is the model you have for success. So I would venture to say that most black programmers are in Corporate America to stay and would not dare venture into this internet wild wild west.

  17. Steve

    I think it’s a cultural thing. Certain industries are more attractive to certain ethnic groups. For example, I think blacks enjoy sports and physical activities more than other races. This is not a racial statement, it’s a statement of reality. How many Asians do you see in pro sports except Golf?

    I think the same could be said about programming. Maybe more of the White and Asian population are attracted to this kind of stuff.

    Another reason could be that there hasn’t been enough exposure in the black community. There isn’t enough discussion about the possibilities of programming/entrepreneurialship in the black community to spark any real interest.

    When you think about it, this industry isn’t that old. It’ll probably take some time before blacks grab a bigger a piece of the pie.

    1. Alex at Net-Entrepreneur.com

      As I was saying before, I too think that it might be cultural.

      I grew up in a Jewish family and being a physician or a advocate was practically programmed to us by the surrounding grownups.

      Might be the same with African-Americans.

  18. Nick Stamoulis

    I don’t think color of skin has boundaries for success. I think this individual might be looking in the wrong areas. If he lives in a predominately black area he should check out local meet ups to meet others entrepreneurs and go getters.

  19. David

    I think that you hit right in the ball park of whats going on, The only way to get the answer to this would be to conduct many studies.

  20. BusinessX

    shoe, I was writing a comment and it got lengthier and lengthier. Finally, I realized this should be a post. So, the short answer- access to cash, experience, and discrimination.

  21. casthompson

    Thanks for posting such a thought provoking article Shoe,

    I’ve been watching this post all day and I want to chime in. First of all, here are the facts, I am a black man, I am not a programmer but I am a web entrepreneur who has hired and worked with programmers to help my online businesses.

    I have had many online successes and failures over the past 8 years. Most of my success has popped up in the last four of those eight years.

    As I’ve watched tech, affiliate marketing and web 2.0 taken off, I’ve always asked myself how come I don’t see more faces that look like mine? The more I use social networking as a tool, the more I have realized that we are out there. We don’t have huge exposure because in my opinion we haven’t created enough opportunities to put our faces out.

    It’s the world wide web! Everyone has the same opportunity. 90% of my deals have happened with 100% anonymity. … and I haven’t personally experienced online racism. (not that it doesn’t exist)

    I have done well with Adsense, Amazon, Clickbank and domain selling and the color that usually influences the deal is Green!

    As I’ve networked, I have found plenty of talented black programmers, search specialist, bloggers and designers. And one day, a black man or woman will pop up with the next Google, Amazon, Facebook or Twitter… and not because they were black, but because the product or service was too powerful to ignore.

    Cas

  22. flypitcher

    Bill Gates was the son of a multi millionare as you will find the majority on the American Fortune 500. Obama’s son will be a millionare.
    What is more important than the color of your skin is the size of your parent’s bank account to succeed in life.
    If your parents have no money then the darker your skin colour the poorer you will be.
    That is the reality of the American dream. Now one or two of you will say what about so and so. But the fact is that more male blacks go to Prison than say Princeton.(University)
    Sadly the underdog always stays under.
    Remember the less you desire the less you suffer.

  23. Tushar Dhoot

    I don’t know about blacks, but living proof that race doesn’t matter is the amount of successful Indians or people of indian descent in the industry.

    1. BusinessX

      Race does matter, Indian dominance in the IT industry is proof of that. What are the elements that make that happen?

      Again race matters because shoemoney did not ask why no high tech Asian entrepreneurs. We all could answer that from Jerry Yang to John Chow & Neil Patel, yet Asians are only 5% of the US population. Blacks being 13.5% and Hispanics 15% of the US population, I cannot name one IT titan (black or hispanic). Race matters, we just don’t like asking or answering the question.

    2. teamray

      I think the reasons you see a lot more Indians in IT is the fact or premise of cheap labor / outsourcing get many of them into the door. Without outsourcing would the market be as high with Indians in tech i doubt it.

  24. WorkAtHomeNoScams.com

    Hi,

    This is a question that hits home for me as one of the few if not only black people in my industry “work at home”. For a while I purposely didn’t post pictures of my self because I know that some people will judge you on that before anything.

    I think you might find there are a lot more black tech entrepreneurs than you think. But they may not be disclosing their race because of the ignorance that is so pervasive which has now become very obvious with the current presidential race.

    But with that said, I eventually made a decision to “come out” because I had built my credibility and expertise in my industry. I didn’t want to be labeled as that black dude that runs those work at home websites. I wanted to become known in my industry as that guy that wants to help people work at home and avoid scams. He has a family like me and relates to me regardless of his race. And that’s pretty much what I achieved.

    So there may be a lot more of “us” out there that want to be judged on their merit and nothing else first. Now with that said it’s a bit of a disadvantage because we don’t know we’re out there which could help with networking and such. So that is a negative.

    I don’t know, sometimes I think stuff like this is just more divisive than anything. I’m sort of torn about it.

    At the end of the day, I’m just happy we live in a country where we can have these intelligent conversations.

    Eddy Salomon
    WorkAtHomeNoScams.com
    WorkAtHomeCareers.com

  25. How To Make Money

    Yeah it is a great topic. First, I went to school at N. Iowa not to far from the Quad Cities…so, what up? lol I split time now between Dallas, TX and Niagra Falls, Ont.

    Anyway, back on topic, I agree, that the major question that you have to ask is why aren’t there more black programmers…and I think that, very soon, we will start to see more “great” black programmers.

    Many black families are just now getting their second generations into college. College is no longer a stumbling block. Plus, for a while, it wasn’t a popular among young black kids to strive to become programmers. Now it is.

  26. Apartments San Antonio

    Here in Seattle, it’s one of the least racially diverse major cities in the US, I think close to 80% of the population is caucasian. So there definitely is a dearth of male and female black people in technology related positions.

  27. Static

    I actually have a black roommate in my dorm and I’ve talked him into trying out blogging. He seems to be procrastinating (a lot, as it’s been over a month) on it, but he probably will get to it sooner or later.

    Regarding black programmers, I’m not sure if I agree completely on that specific scale. Probably it is because black people are not exposed as much to the Internet as a whole. Some Asian countries have 80%+ people using the Internet in their country, which is a reason why there are A LOT of blogs that are run in Asian languages, most notably, the development of Twitter. Yeah, I’d just have to say it’s just the exposure to the whole net itself.

  28. Black Tech Entreprenuer

    I am black, and have a background is selling drugs and robbery….. : ) ( Really) Lol! I grew up in a dope addict family so I learned by example, You can’t really blame a 9 year old for stealing when he is taught to do so. Most of my friend are dead or in prison with very long terms. By all rights I should be in that situation as well. However, one day something happened to me. I met Christ. Odd as it may sound to some, there is a different kind of education that you get from Him…Far superior then secular academics. I have a bit of college but nothing that compares to the understanding that I have been given by Him. You see, it isn’t your education, your parents money or your race. It isn’t even the degree to which you have been discriminated against. The single most important thing that matters most to your success (aside from Gods grace your even alive) is your Attitude.

    Life is a gift, full of challenges that are really opportunities. Unless of course you see every obstacle in a negative mindset. It is ALWAYS your attitude and how YOU interpret events and circumstances. It is a mindset. I would like to remind you that we could very well have a black president tomorrow. He wouldnt have come as far as he did if he didn’t have the mindset, regardless if he wins or loses. A person regardless of race can do anything if #1 they believe it, and two #2 they persist. That includes the Tech world. 10 years ago you wouldn’t have considered a black president. So because you may not see many “Titan Techs” who are black, don’t think there can’t or won’t be.

    1. flypitcher

      I think the media have influenced people too much here and have kep repeating that Obama is Black.. If Obama wins( and it does not matter as the lobbyists/backers of the winner control the power) then Obama will not be the first BLACK president.
      Obama is not Black. If Obama were black he would not win. The darkness of his skin would be too much for America.
      If one of your parents is a different color does that make you black or white?
      No one is asking that question or answering it.

      1. Black Tech Entreprenuer

        The point is mindset. Obama is more african american then any former US president. If you think that his ethnic “mixture” is the only reason he is holding the position he does today, I would have disagree. The question that was proposed is about the lack of Black Tech Entreprenuers. The point I am making is that it is a mindset that the indivdual has, regardless of him be 100% pure african american or half. If obama was as black as a tar and had the same mindset he would be able to accomplish the same thing, at least in this period of time. Most african americans (like myself ) are not pure “off the boat” straight from africa. You don’t grade whether a person is african americans by the shade of their skin. It is not the more “blacker” the more african. What do you do with light colored or albino african americans?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama

  29. Alex at Net-Entrepreneur.com

    Or, the reason could be that their attention is concentrated not at mainstream. As someone already said, some concentrate their efforts on music or entertainment aimed at Africal-Americans, and the majority of the population would never hear of that entrepreneur.

    Besides, being only a ~14% of the population, there might as well be young, bright, black programmers out there that we simply cannot hear about because there isn’t a way to communicate his success to the mainstream.

  30. Goran Website

    There is many Africans who are very involved in programming, like myself. The only problem is most are fearful of taking huge risks like being a founder of a company and having enough confidence in one’s product. Most just settle for the safe option, which is having a job and guaranteed monthly income.

    But I have to also say there’s more Black people rising to the challenge, especially here in Africa, and grabbing the bull by its horns.

    Very interesting topic.

  31. David

    I have no answers. I am of the opinion that if we actually ignored race that things would be better – and not just didn’t address the current issues with race that we have but really not take a persons skin into account for any reason.

    blacknn? I guess I can see why people would want race based news. My question is does that bring us closer together or segregate us more? I understand that race matters to some people, I just don’t get it.

  32. payday

    being a programmer is a big advantage in starting a web company I am trying to learn programing and it difficult hard to find time but I will keep trying. I have lots of good ideas need to learn program or find someone to help me that I can trust thats the hard part my last idea was stolen by the programer he made 100K with my idea and did not share anything with me

  33. Dymphna Boholt

    Shoe, Must say really impressed with your broaching of this very important topic esp at such a momentous time as this. Good on You!

    It really is good to see material that is just not only on AM. Keep it coming.

  34. Caleb

    Well…look how long it took just to get a black president? The tech field isn’t that attractive for most brothers I know.

    Furthermore as i posted on my blog,I’ve tried so many times to share MMO knowledge,but the brothers I’ve shared this with simply don’t want to take the time to learn…they only want the benefits!

    I’m still trying though because I can never give up on my own people…

  35. Ray A.

    As an African America Entrepreneur, I’ve asked myself the same question many times. I think it boils down to exposure. If you aren’t surrounded by technology early on, it’s more difficult to get up to speed later. Our community has been plagued until recently by the “digital divide”. That gap is closing, but the effects still linger.

  36. William Kasel

    I am not black, but i claim hispanic origins, and I am a web entrepreneur. Ive started tons of stuff — my most recent is buzzbuy.com — launching beta in feburary, its a copy/paste e-commerce widget running flex.

    But, living in san francisco, even i see a lack of blacks in tech. There are plenty of indians, asians, and whites, but no blacks, and little to none hispanics. What gives?

  37. jackie sheeler

    i think you’re right on the money that the core issue is how few black programmers/engineers there are, though why there are so few is a much trickier question to answer. certainly there are fewer black students at engineering schools. is it an economic issue, or an issue of desire? come to think of it, there aren’t a whole lot of asian programmers either — except from the indian continent, where there are huge numbers of developers. sort of seems like a matter of inclination and preferences. i, for one, would rather eat a bug than learn how to code, and i know that i am not alone in that.

  38. Robert Johnson

    Black Americans are alive and prospering in the technology age. We’re operating nuclear power plants, leading projects in aerospace, realizing advances in medicine, designing automobiles of the future, and the examples are endless. It’s all a matter of searching, locating, and sharing the information to improve awareness. On a personal note, the challenge for me has been securing capital to take advantage of the vast technological opportunities yet to be deployed online. Here’s an example.

    If I wanted to launch a generic social networking site, the cost to go live is relatively inexpensive. Purchase a domain, load an open source script (I love SourceForge.net), alter the PHP, post free videos across the web linking back to the site, interact across blogs, tweak SEO, affiliate (did I mention affiliate?) and manage the content to generate continued interest and eyeballs. A few hours of work and presto, the site’s live. Pretty simple stuff.

    However, when I wanted to launch an MLM social networking site requiring programming beyond my expertise, I negotiated with foreign freelancers (domestic programmers were not cost effective and the timeline for project completion would have been longer than the budget allowed), consulted with an attorney, prepared what I thought was a bullet-proof business plan and presentation, and fired packages off to VCs in San Francisco, NY, and Seattle via FedEx (FYI: Never send plans to VCs unsolicited or without the assistance of a mutual party). Well, the plan has been on ice for nearly three years now. To make matters worse, I witnessed the launch of an MLM social network that’s growing faster than a mosquito at a blood bank.

    If I had adequate funding (or President-elect Obama’s multi-million-plus email and text message lists lol), my idea would have been a complete success giving me leverage to brand quickly, attract advertisers, share revenue with members, and invest in other ideas.

    Inadequate or lack of funding isn’t simply a “black” issue. The problem transcends race. Interesting question, none-the-less.

  39. Pingback: An Answer- Where are the minority tech entrepreneurs? | BusinessX.info

  40. SEO Tips South Africa

    This is an awesome thought provoking post Jeremy! I myself think that the average kid coming through school with equal opportunity these days will be inclined to follow whatever appeals to him or her the most. Maybe this has something to bear too?

  41. Glen

    I think that the reason is systemic. Most of us black individuals are pushed into blue collar jobs because that is all that those before us know. I can’t even explain how I make money from blogging to my friends and family because the concept is so foreign to them. I think that more black would get into tech if there were more examples of successful blacks in that field.

  42. John

    Boy this post is sure getting a lot of activity….:-)

    First of all I have learned that there are more Black Folk on the Internet than I realized. As for VP and Execs in the industry, it is starting to happen, it may take a little time but it will surely happen.

    One way we can help is to continue to expose black kids to the world of technology, especially web design. I am the technology advisor for the Center For Re-creation And Family Training (CRAFT- http://www.craftinc.org) an Illinois based non-for-profit. We are currently working on a technology lab and we are going to be offering free training in things like HTML, CSS, PHP, etc…

    The Internet is wayyyyyy tooooo big, it will eventually happen.

  43. Steve

    I think the bottom line is everyone should do what they enjoy. Whether you want to be a doctor, engineer, programmer, athlete, comedian, or whatever, the idea is that you should be doing what you enjoy in life.

    I don’t see why it’s necessary that a certain percentage of blacks be in a certain field, and certain percentage of whites or asians in another field, etc.

    Do what you enjoy doing.

  44. Brandon

    Shoe, major props to you for having ballz. In corporate America, I would agree, there are many “IT professionals” that are Black and it seems in Corporate that for mid manager and lower jobs, that Blacks have a decent shot at representing in Atlanta.

    As for Entrepreneurs, I think it is again a lack of knowledge of how to do and when to do. Not trying to get a free link, but I have run http://www.blackatlanta.com for years and have done great ads for BIG companies. But I am no SHOE! Maybe when we expand to those 30 cities, I can break into that $500K money.

    If you want some Black partners, reach out to ME.

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  47. AJ Archibald

    My name is AJ Archibald and I’m probably one of the earliest african american entrepreneurs on the net. I worked for the first music site online IUMA and started the first urban music site – Hitlist.com. I’ve been in magazines such as Black Enterprise and Businessweek. My word of advice to all entrepreneurs is get off your ass and get to it. I can’t program so i partnered with great programmers, I don’t write copy so I hire writers and reporters, etc. If you have a will to win you can overcome any of your limitations. I’ve been doing this since 1993 when I was a college student at Howard University and the main things I’ve learned through this journey is network like crazy, surround yourself with the best people possible, and have clear doable goals to achieve what you want to do. Remember all it takes to make 100k a year is 300 bucks a day. Get to it. I’ll be at ASW hit me up if you want to connect.

    1. David

      Hi Archibald,

      Got a few questions for you. I am working on a website and taking the same approach you did by surrounding myself with individuals who have the technical knowledge.

      David

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  50. Memphis

    While I think there can be more “visible” African-American in the technology area, I don’t feel badly that we are not represented as heavily as we are in other areas. Culture, exposure and history have a lot to do with how people are represented in different professions. So why I laud more visible African-American professional to drive our kids to get into technology, I’m not worried that we are being discrimated against in this field.

  51. Cedric

    Better late than never I suppose.
    The uproar of the internet produced thousands upon thousands of people of all races generally interested. What I’ve noticed is that a lot of people didn’t expect programming to be the backbone of career success. Moreover, not many people entered it with the intentions of becoming a businessman. Most people had little exposure to the essences of programming at and age before graduating high school. So imagine trying to decide on a major, say CS or CIS vs a slew of other things. After choosing CS/CIS, not really digging binary, bits, Assembly, Pascal, Basic, C, etc…
    That obviously serves as a major turnoff to nearly everyone. The successful programmer has the patience and understanding of how their creativity can be presented. “The Art” – “The Darkside”.

    Due to the lack of interest, those people choose another major that seems more fun, or less work. After-all, who actually studies their behinds off in college anymore??? A CS major at a reputable school has to spend countless all-nighters writing programs.
    In turn, people miss being able to produce new things for lack of knowing how current technologies work behind the scenes from the coding standpoint. Coupled with the small number of black college students there are and forked with other socio-problematic dilemmas like, the need to support ourselves NOW or be homeless is why. Not to speak for all, but most blacks try to make money within the black community only. (Silly)
    Aside from advertisements, and mobile apps…the market in black consumers is relatively low. Many still don’t feel comfortable using their credit cards to purchase over the internet but will give their card number to a representative over the phone. Some still think having internet presence like facebook.com is too dangerous.
    Oh well, may as well drop out and be a producer, play football, whatever else rather than sit at home in front of a computer screen all day. These fields have more of a respect factor in the black community anyways. After all, everybody knows LeBron, but nobody knows the black guy that created the technology that allows people to spoof their number from caller IDs.

    Me? I’ve been in the game for a while now and have touched all facets of Information Technology. Though I should not be concerned, is the world really ready to spend their money on a black owned, black created product?? Only time will tell here. I think the key is internationalization. Moreover, having a sound background in marketing plus business. If a product is presented in “black” form, it essentially cuts out 99% of the entire world from exposure. That’s bad for business. I’ve never been so micromanaged to think that little.

  52. Prince

    This discussion has been going on for years and unfortunately I can easily see it continuing for years to come. First off, I’m black panamanian, grew up in the US and had the good fortune to attend terrific schools (high school and college). Since I always had artistic ability and since the Web was in existence in the 80’s (early 90’s) I chose visual communications as my profession. As the Web burst on the scene I added web site design to my skill set. What I quickly came to realize was the “digital divide” between those who have exposure to technology and those who don’t. The don’t typically tend to be minorities in this country.

    Over the years I’ve “picked” up the knack for learning new softwares and coding tech.

    Here is what people need to realize in 2011. Any knuckle head can build a web site. So for blacks (in particular) to think that knowing how to put some lines of HTML together or knowing how to post a WordPress Blog; is programming… they are completely wrong!!!

    Black people (on average) tend to lean more to the creative (front-end) development side of things. They’ll want to design the car – not build the engine, they’ll want to design the building – not develop the mechanical engineering specs.

    This might be due to lack of exposure, and aversion to things that are “difficult” or maybe it’s because it “makes more sense” to do “fun” work opposed to “logic” based work where mathematics might be necessary.

    Now I did say “on average” because history proves that there have been exceptions Garrett Morrison and Dr. Ben Carson are just two. But when it comes to the 21st century and Programming there are very few. Not so in Computer “Hardware”! I’ve know many very smart Blacks that can set up LAN’s and WAN’s; but there is a huge chasm between that and programming.

    To that end, I’ve taken it upon myself over the years to dive more into Programming, for those who might read this and want to get started but don’t know what to learn here you go: PHP, Python, Basic (VisualBasic), (RealBasic), C#, Java, Coldfusion
    These are PROGRAMMING languages wiki the names and learn more. To give you real wold examples of what they can do. MySpace was built with Coldfusion. Facebook was originally built on PHP and now they’ve created their own Facebook version of PHP to run on their servers called XPHP. Python and Basic have been around for decades and is still widely used in programming.

    It’s challenging but NOT HARD! I’m even getting my son started in the basics of programming – he’s in the 4th grade and 10 years old.

    I believe once a child can understand “if/then/else”, “basic math addition, subtraction, multiplication, division” and the basics of algebra “7+x=10 What is the value of x?” they can get started in programming! Programming is the future!!! Don’t be scared. Just push yourself. Nothing worth having comes easy. By the way – I was terrible in math growing up, even in high school. What teachers never told me and what I didn’t understand, is that math isn’t about getting the right answers! (of course if you do it correctly you will get the right answer) but more importantly, it’s about PROBLEM SOLVING!!! Every Programmer is solving a problem. So go find a problem and solve it! Have fun.

    1. Marcus

      If you are looking for an African American programmer, look no further. I am here!

      I am a .net programmer.
      Basically
      .Asp.net
      .WCF
      .WPF
      .Entity Framework
      .Winforms
      .Silverlight
      .Sql Sever 2005-2008
      .C# or Vb.net
      …etc

  53. mr Ketter

    I really enjoyed this post. I just had this same discussion with my wife. I am African American (even though my one trip to Africa doesn’t really qualify me). I learned programming at age 9. I read “think and grow rich” at age 15. I also grew up in the hood (and I mean hood). I had a fairly successful career as a Tech engineer and owner of a Tech support company dkwtechnik.com. But once I got out of line and began to approach VCs about some groundbreaking ideas I have; it suddenly got very cold in here. I truly believe that their are incredible African American minds (light bulb, open heart surgery need I go on). The problem as I see it is that we are still seen as being porters and not conductors. I am fine as long as I support your great Tech idea. But don’t let me actually have one myself.

    I have decided to never complain without followup action. I have also decided to never hide my picture thinking that it hurts my chances. If the world thinks that only people who look like Zuckerberg have good ideas; I’ll let them continue to sleep. When my ideas become household names, I will just count the money (which by the way is still green).

    http://www.dkwtechnik.com/blog

  54. Bryant Oakley

    I want to type so much. What I will say is that I will be remembered before I die as a great african american innovator in the field of programing and applications development.
    The biggest problem with the lack of black people is education or if you want to label it ‘exposure’. give you an example My son is currently 12 and I had to take a step back and assess his education standards. His school last year had a 7% pass rate on the Gateway or TCAP exams for english and 4% for math. Why? Because I am too busy or didnt make the time to help him or is the system flawed. His school did not have a computer lab and the library denies him access to computers to DO simple research. I have 7 computers and he did know how to type his name in less than a minute. I fixed that though and now am about to help other kids with the same problems.
    The other thing is the lack of motivation to do something other than kill each other(mentally, spiritually, and physically).
    One person posted that if you can not be self taught then programming probably will not be a good fit for you and that is a very true statement. Unfortunately I have to add if you can not READ fundamentally or do proper research in the first place you will contiue to fail in epic fashion as a programer.
    Programing also requires self discipline which if you are distracted as often minorities are you probably will be to distracted to focus and learn a proper work flow for project completion. I plan to change that mind set so that the future can have more respectable results. You are welcome to watch my movement over the next few years and be excited with me now. This post was is old (2008) and still holds true in (2012). Thats kinda sad but it took us a while(over 400 years) to have an african american become President so we still have time and it is now evident that change is possible. This post has added full to my inspiration. Whats funny is that I am currently watching the stream release for Visual Studio 2012 as I am typing this. The possibilities have become even more realistic now. Now back to building the future I go. thanks Shoe!

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