Diversity and Inclusion Series:3 Things the Tech Industry Can Learn from the Oscars

This is the first post of a three-part series on the lessons that the tech community can learn from the Oscars when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

After this year’s Oscars, we discovered something:  The tech community can learn a lot from the movie industry when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

In just a year since the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has made positive steps towards resolving its diversity problem. One great night for diversity does not completely solve the issue, but it is a step in the right direction.

The tech industry, which has struggled to make significant gains on its diversity numbers, can learn a thing or two from the movie industry.

Here is the first of three lessons on diversity and inclusion that the tech industry can take from the movie industry:

Oscars Lesson #1: The first step is admittance.

The tech community should admit that it does not open its doors to diverse talent rather than blaming its problem on a lack of talent.

Post the #OscarSoWhite debacle, the Academy vowed to embark on a five-year initiative to “double the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.”

The Academy soon learned that five years was too long and embarked on an aggressive review and overhaul of its governance structure. This review led to the purging of 70 members and the welcoming of 683 new members to the Academy. By taking a hard look at its structure, the Academy effectively recognized that its diversity issue did not stem from a lack of quality films featuring talented people of color and women but rather a lack of opportunity for representation of existing films.

In the past couple of years, only incremental improvements have occurred in tech’s diversity numbers. The reasons for this vary, but one common theme constantly arises: the broken pipeline problem. In 2016, Facebook’s Global Director of Diversity Maxine Williams blamed the company’s low diversity numbers on this issue. She explained that the current public education system does not provide students with the necessary skills. Put simply: There is just not enough talent. At the time, many people disagreed with and were offended by her comments.This explanation is highly suspect when considering other factors such as companies’ interview methods and their internal referral processes.

Even if there is inadequate technical education, what about other non-technical areas like business, marketing, and sales roles? There is a misconception in Silicon Valley that all jobs in tech require technical expertise. However, this is not true. For instance, take online recommendation site Yelp, about 70 percent of its jobs are non-engineering roles (pre-dominantly sales).

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the percentage of bachelor’s degrees earned by black, Hispanic, and female students is on the rise. Further, NCES found that black women are the most educated group in the U.S. with 9.7 percent enrolled in college – more than Asian women, white women, and white men. Ultimately, underrepresented minorities and women are earning other degrees. This increased education empowers students with the necessary skills needed to succeed in the tech industry’s non-technical positions.

The tech community should admit that it is not a lack of talent keeping the industry from being more diverse and inclusive. Rather, it comes down to creating a system that acknowledges perfectly viable, underrepresented candidates and provides them with the opportunity to succeed.

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3 Ways To Keep Your 2017 Career Resolution

Whether you are in the market for a new job or not, 2017 is your year to make good on your career resolution. According to Business Insider, the U.S. economy is on the up and up. By the end of last year, the U.S. was reveling in about 74 months of consecutive job growth.

Companies are on a hiring spree as competition declines, and salaries are climbing. So, what does this mean for you?

The current jobs market means that your New Year’s career resolutions doesn’t have to die a slow death over the next few weeks. Take advantage of the times and elevate your career in just three, simple ways.

Resolution #1: Figure Out Your Next Move

We know what you are thinking, ‘Gee, that was helpful.’ But, bear with us. Perhaps you’ve been toiling away at your job for years, daydreaming about your next move or maybe you’re comfortable and haven’t given it much thought. In either scenario, LinkedIn is still your friend.

Use LinkedIn to achieve career resolution in 2017

Beyond simply connecting with your colleagues and other professional contacts, are you leveraging all of its features?

Cyberstalk for All the Rights Reasons …

In the beginning stages of your job search (especially if your path is uncertain), LinkedIn is a great resource to lightly cyber stalk (in a non-creepy way) people who have the careers you want. Even if your profile isn’t set to private, don’t be shy; go ahead and click on that executive’s profile you admire. Do you have mutual connections? If not, don’t be afraid to take it one step further and reach out to them. Cold contact (emails, messages, calls, etc.) still works. It’s all a numbers game so don’t get discouraged.

Find Common Ground…

If randomly approaching a stranger online isn’t your thing, then LinkedIn’s Alumni Connection feature is probably up your alley. At any point in your career, your alumni game should always be strong (after all isn’t that why we paid for expensive pieces of paper to prove we belonged to a certain academic community?). Alumni love hearing from their people so drop them a quick line, tell them your story, and make the ask. Stay clear of outright asking for a job. Simply asking for advice is the best way to go.

Leave Breadcrumbs …

Breadcrumbs is online dating lingo for stringing someone along with no intentions of committing (e.g., liking someone’s Facebook page, retweeting them, sending seemingly innocuous texts like “Hey, how are you?”). What does this have to do with your professional life? Well, LinkedIn’s Job Search function often lists who posted the job. Scope out their profiles and use the tactics mentioned above. They’ll likely see that you’ve checked them out and may return the favor. But don’t just leave it there. Wait a couple of days, then send a short follow-up email introducing yourself, referencing the post, and linking them to your profile. Remember recruiters accept applications and referrals, but they also ‘source’ roles. In other words, your outreach is doing part of their job for them. Help them, help you.

Resolution #2: Get Organized

First things first. Set specific goals on a daily basis and give yourself a timeline on when you would like to secure an offer.  Before you know it, your inbox will be populated with interview requests, calendar invites, follow-up notes, etc. It can all get to be a bit overwhelming. To handle it all, get organized with personal organization apps (24Me, Evernote, Remember the Milk) or try out bullet journaling with old school pen and paper. Do what works best for you.

Resolution #3: Be Part of the Conversation

Building your network is a give and take situation. In exchange for the advice imparted on you by your new connects, the least you can do is share your thoughts. No need to be an industry expert to sound off on a range of topics. Take to LinkedIn’s Blog feature, Medium, and Twitter (the company’s struggling, but the platform is still clutch) to spread ideas and offer insights. Nothing to say? No worries, simply sharing resources like news or reports goes a long way in building your profile as someone who cares about industry trends and developments.

Feel free to join offline conversations. Networking can be daunting, but it does not necessarily have to be a thing that you need to “get over.” If you can’t stomach another awkward networking event where everyone else seems to be in the same boat as you, then gravitate towards things you would normally do. For instance, join a Meetup group, an industry organization, or sports league, attend events or conferences, or sign up to volunteer. Making new friends and catching up with old ones helps organically grow your network.

Bringing It All Together

The 2017 job market is hot, hot, hot. So go ahead, update your LinkedIn profile, get your (non-creepy) cyberstalk on, and share your ideas with your growing network. And for bonus points, step away from your laptop or mobile device and get engaged in your community. Your dream job is right around the corner.

Increased salaries in 2017

Virtual Skinny: Election Day is Here!

11.8.2016

Good to Know: Election Day is in full swing! If you were thinking of pulling a Justin Timberlake by taking a ballot selfie while in the voting booth, it may or may not be legal. It’s a state-by-state issue so check it out first with this tool. Save your “I Voted” sticker for free stuff. And, find out how to follow election results here.

vote, election day, U.S. elections

THE SKINNY


When You Keep It Old School …

Don’t count on online voting becoming a thing soon (pun intended, we slay us!).

When You’re Wondering Why Not …

In a nutshell: It’s too risky. And, don’t try the ‘well if we can bank and shop online, we should be able to vote online too’ argument. The argument fails for 2 reasons: (1) Online banking is heavy on user identity, and voting is kind of a private, anonymous thing. (2) Billions of dollars go down the drain in the form of online shopping scams every year.

When You’re trying to avoid election drama

All types of governments (looking at you Washington D.C. and Estonia) have given electronic voting a go, and they were both hackity, hacked, hacked. For the record: Non-swing states like Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Missouri and North Dakota allow limited votes via an online portal for military folks and people living abroad. But, it likely won’t go any further than that. 

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


Hey, Listen Up …

The FBI’s got a message for private companies. Cyber attacks aren’t going anywhere, and ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) devices are the target. The U.S.’s top watchdog uncovered a network of IoT devices called Mirai that’s wreaked havoc on an Internet service provider. The code for the Mirai botnet is public, which means that anyone who’s remotely savvy can use it to hack consumer devices and reprogram them. No word on who’s behind Mirai. 

When You Take A Timeout …

The UK  Information Commissioner’s Office is feeling itself this week. Why? Well, the office managed to get Facebook and WhatsApp to hold off on sharing UK WhatsAPP users’ data between each other in the name of displaying ads.  The office put in a FB request but not the kind we’re used to. It wants FB to do a better job in explaining to users what exactly is going on with their data on WhatsApp. But, it warned that it won’t hesitate to take action against FB if the company decides to use people’s data without first getting consent. #WarningShots 

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Urban Outfitters tried it! The retailer tweeted out an ‘Election Day’ guide to its millions of followers. The guide advised its millennial clientele to take both their voter registrations cards and IDs to the polls. One word: WRONG! Fact: You never need your voter registration ID, and only some states require ID. Shady boots or nah? 

wrong

Payback is a b#@!$ Snapchat just returned the favor to Instagram. Snapchat’s taking the best from ‘Instagram Stories’: The rewind button. The feature will be available on the latest version of Snap. The company’s also throwing augmented lenses into the update too. 

Speaking of “biting” from others… Watch out LinkedIn! Facebook’s now testing out letting page admins have the ability to create job postings and receive job apps from potential employees. 

Alphabet, formerly known as Google, lowkey invested in Snapchat. But, the company’s pulling the plug on its partnership with Starbucks on drones aka ‘Project Wing.’   

Online radio streaming service Pandora’s got plans to ‘“reflect the evolving makeup of our local workforce.” To do that, the company promises to up it’s employees of color by 10 percent. That would be 45% of total employees being people of color by 2020. 

Samsung doesn’t think it’s too late to say sorry for its faulty Galaxy Note 7. 

It may not be done after all. Rumor has it that Twitter’s considering selling Vine. The microblogging site’s not saying a word so we’ll see… 

Amazon posted a job description hinting that it’s making housekeeping a perk of being a Prime Member. 

FUN FACT


The dude who voiced AOL’s “You’ve Got Mail” is switching teams. Elwood Edwards is now an Uber driver in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Virtual Skinny: Get Out the Vote!

11.4.2016

Good to Know: Time to vote for the next U.S. president. FYI, voting by text is not a thing so don’t believe the ads you’re seeing online. 

facepalm

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When The End Is Near …  

Take that whichever you want to … But come next Tuesday, the U.S. presidential election will be over. And, Facebook may leave its mark.

When You’re Not Understanding …

Take a look at Hong Kong’s last election. Facebook helped get young people and liberal voters out to the polls, which led to the conservative candidate crying loser tears. Analysts says this could mean something for what’s going on State-side. 

When You Need Information, Quick…

Facebook’s ‘Election 2016’ hub gives people easy access to “voting guides, registration info, news video, and other Election Day planning tools.” 

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


There’s Always A Way …

Not being picked up by a taxi on account of how you look is common knowledge many have experienced. When ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft stepped onto the scene, they thought they were doing their part to decrease blatant bias.  Not so fast. Turns out Uber and Lyft drivers are simply deciding whether to pick someone up or not based on riders’ names. Black men are having a particularly hard time getting rides (at least based on a study by MIT, Stanford, and University of Washington of what goes down in Seattle and Boston). Women aren’t immune either. 

That’s What We Call Dodging A Bullet …

Gregory Selden, an African-American AirBnB user, filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company. Selden said an AirBnB host wouldn’t rent to him because… Well … he’s black. A federal judge put the kibosh on the suit on account of AirBnB’s policies that users agree to when they sign onto the platform. The judge says this situation’s gotta be handled privately and out of the court. 

Where Is Everyone?

Struggling Internet vet Yahoo announced plans to sell to Verizon. Soon after, the company saw its women employees leaving in droves. Not a great time since the tech industry is focused on diversity and inclusion issues. No confirmed reason for the exodus, but Yahoo’s Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion says they simply got better offers elsewhere. 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE …


Only 18% of women are earning undergrad degrees in computer science, physics, and engineering. A new psychology study blames masculine geek culture. The fix on closing the gender? Less focus on Star Trek and video games and more focus on things women can relate to. And no, that does not mean making everything about the color pink and fashion.  

For the first time ever, looks like people are accessing the Web via their mobile devices rather than desktops.

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-8-40-10-am

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


LinkedIn wants to know how much bank you got with LinkedIn Salary. Don’t worry. This is for good, not evil. The company wants to help people better gauge how much they should be making for a particular role. But, nothing in life is free. To gain access to the aggregated and anonymous salary info, you gotta share yours first. 

You’ll need to know your worth because the holiday season is here. Insta’s taking advantage. The app will now let people shop till they drop with 20 brands including J.Crew, Warby Parker, and JackThreads. Don’t be shy, hit that “shop now” button. 

The holidays aren’t just about buying material things. It’s the season for giving. Check out apps like ShareTheMeal, Donate a Photo, Tinbox, Charity Mile, etc. to give back. 

What else are the holidays good for? New Year resolutions and gym memberships. And, if you’re anything like us, you’ll never use them. ClassPass is ditching its premium membership for a la carte gym classes and three-class packages. Something to consider …

Uber’s learning more about you. The latest version of the app uses a combo of your past behavior and whatever you’ve got penciled into your calendar to prompt a suggested final destination. 

Microsoft Teams  allows teams to pow wow virtually. Sound familiar? Slack seems to think so. Looks like Microsoft’s going after the chat service with ‘Teams.’ But, Slack isn’t sweating it and took out a full-page ad in the New York Times. The ad is a welcome letter with a bit of advice for Microsoft on how to play in the space. Take a look at the full letter if you have the time. #ShadeMonster 

After three years, Twitter’s got plans to shut down Vine. You’ve still got a few more months to take in some of Vine’s best video loops before it’s gone for good.  

FUN (NOT SO) FACT


If some of the great classic writers were alive today, what would be their go to apps? Jane Austen would’ve probably been all over Bumble looking for bae.  

Virtual Skinny: Open Me!

10.12.2016

Good to Know: Open floor plans are the worst! Not even programmers like it. Hey companies! Are you paying attention? 

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When Big Brother Is Watching…

Chicago-based startup Geofeedia has been keeping tabs on people via their social media posts and then sharing that info with U.S. law enforcement.  

When You’re like Wait, Come Again?

Yesterday, the ACLU dropped a huge report uncovering how Geofeedia’s relationship with social networks helps law enforcement monitor and locate alleged criminals and protesters. Since users’ posts often come with personal info like their location, this isn’t  surveillanceexactly going over well. The ACLU says Geofeedia’s, helps police ‘disproportionately’ target black people, compromises free speech, and leads police directly to protest sites.
Just ask actress 
Shailene Woodley.

When You’re Waiting for Reactions …

After the ACLU let us in on Geofeedia’s secrets, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram immediately cut off the company’s access to their data. Geofeedia CEO Phil Harris says the company’s all for ‘personal privacy [and] transparency.’ #SideEye He needs more people because we don’t believe him. Meanwhile, ACLU says good for social platforms in cutting of Geofeedia’s access. But now, they need these companies to put public policies in place to prevent something like this from happening again.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


When You should be open to responding… 

Sometimes, you can’t go high when they go low. You’re probably well aware of the email leaks and hacks that’s causing quite the storm during this year’s U.S. presidential debate. The U.S. blames Russia, and it won’t be sitting idly. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama’s working on a ‘proportional’ response. The rest of us will be kept in the dark on what exactly that means, and it’s unclear whether we’ll ever find out. 

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Holiday season’s coming up. Can’t afford a flight for your winter vay-cay? Say hello to black-owned company Airfordable. It’s lets folks pay for plane tickets in installments aka layaway. No more excuses … flight

Sony wants to turn its business around with its first major foray into virtual reality (VR) –  its US $399 Playstation VR headset.

Jungle Book director Jon Favreau wants in on the virtual reality game too. He’s working on a new movie with the studio Wevr called Gnomes and Goblins. It’ll be an interactive VR experience. Sign.Us.UP!

VR, it’s not just for games and entertainment. Chinese Internet company Alibaba’s financial arm is out with VR Pay – a new payment system. How does it work? Use VR goggles to shop VR malls. See something you like? Just nod your head, and it’s yours! No worries … Retailers will know it’s you buying up a storm and not a ‘rando’ by using account logins and passwords to verify. VR Pay is available commercial use by the end of year.   

Rumor has it that Amazon’s looking to open up convenience stores in California to help support its possible drive-through grocery pick up locations. The company has yet to confirm or deny. But, what is confirmed? Amazon’s Alexa-powered music service aka Amazon Music Unlimited goes live today for US $4/month. #HappyListening 

Service robots to take care of persona and domestic tasks will be a thing at least for the next three years.

MAKING MOVES


Or not … Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg is staying put. She has no plans to join a potential Hillary Clinton Administration. #ForTheRecord

Virtual Skinny: Life on Planet Mars…

10.11.2016

Good to Know: President Obama says if NASA has anything to do with it, we’ll be on Mars by 2030. 

THE SKINNY


When A Good Thing Comes to An End …

South Korean smartphone maker Samsung decided to end marketing and production of its high-end Galaxy Note 7 smartphone (except in China). Such a shame, it was a fan fave.

When You Have No Other Choice…

For weeks now, we’ve heard horror stories of malfunctioning Galaxy Note 7s (e.g., exploding phones on planes). The company recalled about 2.5 million phones thinking that’d solve everything. It didn’t. Some replacement phones still went up in flames. 

When Things Don’t Go According to Plan …

The Galaxy Note 7 was Samsung’s answer to Apple’s high-end iPhones. Now that production has ended on the phones, this throws a serious wrench in Samsung’s financial plans. And by that we mean, this whole ordeal could cost the company US $17 billion and ruin its brand reputation.

When Things Are Unclear …

Samsung hasn’t figured out the issue just yet. The company thought it was a battery problem. But, that wasn’t the case. Malfunctions could have something to do with rushed production and the number of features crammed onto the phone to compete with iPhones. Moral of the story: Quality takes time.  

When They’ll Move On This…  

The holiday season is coming, which is when people usually update their phones. People want large-screen phones these days. Samsung’s got nothing to offer this year but Apple (iPhone 7) and Google’s Pixel are viable options. #Cha-Ching

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


When You’re Down in the Dumps…

Twitter’s future is unclear. At first, CEO Jack Dorsey didn’t want to sell the company to the highest bidder. But, reports say that he may be changing his mind. Potential buyers like Google, Apple, and Disney slowly backed away from a potential deal. But, Salesforce is still interested. While Salesforce and Twitter talk numbers, Twitter employee’s morale is all the way down. Some have even stopped showing up to work all together.  Jack just sent around an internal memo to boost employee’s spirits but no mention of a potential sale in his note.

voteWhen this is still planet earth…

This past Sunday’s U.S. presidential debate left many of us feeling like we were in another world. And, alleged Russian hacks in the form of email leaks are definitely stirring things up this election season. U.S. officials are worried that it’ll give people the perception that actual ballot boxes are also susceptible to hacks. Turns out, that’s almost impossible since the process is decentralized and is mainly offline. Perception isn’t always reality.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Dating app Hinge  just hit the ‘do-over’ button. It’s rebranded as a ‘relationship app.’ It wants users’ to swipe right for real, solid relationships. It’ll cost US $7/ month.  

Do it for the kids … U.S. telecom company Sprint is giving away one million wireless devices and service to underrepresented high school students to help ‘bridge the digital divide.’ It’s called the ‘1Million Project.’

Amazon doesn’t want to say ‘these [students] ain’t loyal.” It’s offering college students Amazon Prime benefits for US $50/year (half the normal prime price). The hope is that Amazon Prime Student turns college kids into lifelong customers.

Facebook just launched two major things: (1) Workplace, which is basically Facebook for businesses to compete against Slack. Don’t worry your personal and work accounts will be kept separate.  (2) A standalone events app.  

Google wants to make its new Google Home assistant relatable and personable so the company’s hiring creatives from places like Pixar and The Onion.

Movie company IMAX is opening its first virtual reality theater in Europe. It’ll be in Manchester, England to be exact. There’ll be ‘pods’ for single or multiple users.

MAKING MOVES


AOL’s top global sales exec Jim Norton is dipping out on the company before the Verizon-Yahoo deal goes down. Norton is headed to media company Condé Nast. 

Former corporate development head for Twitter and Square Rishi Garg is joining Mayfield, a venture capital firm, as an investing partner. His focus will be on consumer companies generally (social and fintech companies included). 

Virtual Skinny: Where’s The October Surprise?

10.7.2016

(WOD) Word of the Day: Virtual Reality describes a computer-generated environment that’s similar to real life but not quite. Side note: Virtual Reality is all the rage so it really should be the word for the month of October.

THE SKINNY


When You’re Waiting for the ‘October Surprise…’

This week, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange announced that he’ll be putting Google, the U.S. presidential election process, mass surveillance, etc. on blast over the next 10 weeks. 

When You Thought Sh*t Would Hit the Fan …

The 10-week timeline was unexpected. Assange held a press conference earlier this week where he told us about his new plan.  Rather than letting us in on some alleged truth bombs right then and there, Assange decided against it due to security concerns.  That’s what we call an October Surprise!

When You’re Not Sure What to Expect …

If you’ll remember, Assange’s release of the Democratic National Conventions’ (DNC) emails back in June forced Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to step down as the DNC’s Chair. So it’s expected that the upcoming leaks may derail Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. We’ve been put on notice that the latest documents related to the election will come out Nov. 6 (the day before the election). Assange won’t go as far as to confirm that he’s trying to host the #HillaryIsOverParty, but, he did say the info he has is ‘significant’ and will reveal ‘interesting features of US power factions.’ 

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


From Bad to Worse …

This week, reports came out that Yahoo was low-key using custom software to search through users’ emails. The company has neither confirmed nor denied this but looks like the U.S. government (NSA) may have made them do it. Some people who know about government surveillance are saying that this might just be the first time that an Internet company has complied with this type of government request. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made the call to move forward on the request though it seems some of her subordinates probably disagreed. Twitter, Microsoft, Google, and other tech companies said ‘not it’  and would like to be excluded from this narrative. Meanwhile, since Yahoo can’t stay away from the drams lately, Verizon is asking for a billion dollar discount off the initial US $4.8 billion sale price.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Snap, Inc. aka Snapchat wants to keep up with the Joneses. To get on the same level as Google and Facebook, it needs more money. IPO, anyone? Rumor has it that the company’s first public sale will do down early next year for a cool US $25 billion (at least). 

What a difference a week makes! Twitter was getting ready to hand out a rose to one of its potential suitors (Google, Disney, and Apple). Rumors of a potential acquisition by any of the three sent Twitter’s stock price up.  Then just like that all three backed away. Twitter’s stock went back down. Salesforce is the last company standing for now. #EmotionalRollercoaster  

Blood-testing company Theranos has been through A LOT of regulatory and business challenges. At one time, the company was valued at US $9 billion but now – not so much. Theranos just dropped over 40% of its employees like they were hot (and not in a good way). It’s also shutting down its clinical labs and blood-testing center. 

Blackberry doesn’t want to make its own smartphones anymore. It’s passing that off to its partners. With that said, expect a new Blackberry smartphone with a physical keyboard within the next six months.

Google’s going all in on hardware. The company just announced a slew of new products taking aim at its competitors. Say hello to Pixel (smartphone), Google Home (the company’s response to Amazon’s Echo); Daydream (virtual reality headset), Chromecast, etc. 

Facebook’s working with White House officials to make the Internet accessible all across America via its Free Basics program.  The program’s had issues in India, and it won’t get any better in the U.S. but worth the try. Meanwhile, FB was all VR every-thang. The social network wants to help people emote better via its ‘VR emoji.’  

virtual reality

Over the summer, home rental site AirBnB sued the city of San Francisco for trying to enforce a law that would require listings on the site to be verified by the city. AirBnB wants a federal judge to put an end to this requirement, but the judge seemed skeptical. Unclear where the case is headed, but New York’s probably got next.  

 

Virtual Skinny: Who Run The World?

9.30.2016

WOD (Word of the Day): Artificial intelligence is an area of computer science that focuses on creating ‘intelligent’ computers that have human-like reactions. Yup, just like you see in the movies. 

irobot

THE SKINNY


When You Need to Diversify …

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) dropped a discrimination lawsuit against data-mining startup Palantir Technologies. Fun Fact: Palantir’s software helped track down Osama bin Laden right before the U.S. took him out. #TheMoreYouKnow 

When You Need to Know More …

Turns out that the DOL found that Palantir has been turning away Asian applicants from engineering gigs in droves. The agency says Asian applicants were ‘routinely’ weeded out during initial stages (i.e., résumé screening and telephone interview). #PlotTwist 

When This Isn’t What You’re Used To …  

Cisco exec Barry Gee says discrimination cases involving Asians in Silicon Valley isn’t the typical storyline (these cases usually involve black and Hispanic applicants) though he admits Asians do get shut out of management roles. 

When Things Are Unclear …

So far, specific numbers to back up the DOL’s allegations are unclear. In the meantime, Palantir is denying any wrongdoing. And, the company should hope things are on the up and up because any findings of wrongdoing could cancel its federal contracts worth US $340 millie.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


When You Want to See Results …

The larger tech industry continues to struggle with diversity across the board (underrepresented minorities, women, etc). The industry’s taking a page from the National Football League’s (NFL) playbook. Tech and Internet companies are applying the ‘Rooney Rule’ to help up their diversity numbers. How does it work? Companies like Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, and Microsoft are using the rule to make sure that at least one woman or underrepresented minority is interviewed for a position. Could help bring in a more diverse applicant pool, but companies shouldn’t get it twisted. It’s not just about getting people interviews. The issue runs much deeper. #UnconsciousBias  

How to Not See Results …

Investor and serial entrepreneur John Greathouse thought he was giving sound advice to women in tech when he advised that they ‘create an online presence that obscures their gender’ (e.g., use your initials for  job apps or when seeking startup funding). Greathouse said women should create a ‘neutral online presence’ to avoid gender-bias.  Studies apparently show that men are less likely to find female names likeable. Greathouse learned very quickly what happens when a good deed goes wrong. Many women and some men were not having it, and immediately responded with comments, posts, blogs, etc. See here, here, and here. Moral of the story: Not a great idea to suggest workarounds a problem without making suggestions to solve the actual problem. Greathouse has since apologized. We gotta ask: Despite the backlash, does Greathouse have a point until the larger problems are fixed? Sound off in the comments!

thinking

Who Run The World?

Melinda Gates wants girls to run the tech world. She’s now turning her attention to the lack of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math). Gates, who earned a computer science degree from Duke and previously worked at Microsoft for a decade, is concerned that the percentage of women in computer science has plummeted from 37 percent to 18 percent since the ‘80s. Her plan is to assess the problem before deciding where resources should go to bring solutions. #StrengthInNumbers  

Switching Gears …

First India and now Germany.  If you’ll remember, people were not happy when WhatsApp announced that it would start sharing its users’ data with Facebook. German regulators just threw a flag on WhatsApp’s play. They say German users didn’t give the go ahead on any of it, which violates its data protection laws. The regulators want Facebook to stop collecting WhatsApp data and to hit the delete on all German users’ data collected already. Facebook plans to fight Germany on this. The company probably keep its defenses up because Italy is giving the company major side-eye on the same issue. 

IT’S ALL IN THE NUMBERS…


Looks like folks aren’t sold yet on self-driving cars. New Kelley Blue Book survey found that 80% of survey participants said we should “always have the option to drive themselves;” 64% need to be in control of their own vehicle; and 62% just enjoy driving.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft have partnered up to make moves on artificial intelligence and come up with best practices for it. #TeamWorkMakesTheDreamWork 

Salesforce just threw a wrench into Microsoft’s plan to buy LinkedIn. The company is asking European regulators to put the kibosh on the deal. Something about the deal will be a threat t’o future innovation and competition.’

Snap, Inc. formerly known as Snapchat is out with its ‘Snapchat Spectacles’ complete with a wearable camera. They’re going for US $130. Add that to your holiday gifts list. 

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Loads of content plus a social platform could equal a potential Disney acquisition of Twitter. The social media platform lost a controversial user. Venture capital investor Marc Andreessen decided to call it quits on the Twitterverse. He’s apparently feeling ‘free as a bird.’ #PunIntended 

Music streaming service Spotify has also got buying on its brain. Soundcloud could be it’s next target. If it works out, it’s music to Soundcloud’s ear since the company’s been struggling and looking for a way to exit stage left. Meanwhile, Spotify’s finally saying hello to Japan, the world’s second largest music market (worth over US $2.5 billion). #BetterLateThanNever 

Queen B (aka Beyonce) just made her first foray into tech with a US $150,000 investment in Sidestep, an app for buying concert ‘merch’ that also helps you head straight to the counter to pick up your new swag. 

What Was Trending This Week … 


Mary J. Blige can add host to her resume. Mary’s hosting ‘The 411’ on Beats 1. This week, she interviewed Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton then the R&B singer sang to Hillz about police brutality. We’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but check out the full interview here. Happy Friday!

 

Virtual Skinny: Run and Tell That … 

9.23.2016

Good to Know: Calling all U.S. citizens: Have you registered to vote? Facebook just launched its first voter registration drive. Just log onto your account. There’s literally no excuse so run and tell that! 
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THE SKINNY


When You’ve Been Keeping A Secret and have to tell… 
Yesterday, Yahoo announced that about 500 million email accounts were hacked courtesy of a ‘state-sponsored’ attack. That’s 300 million more than the company originally thought. This is probably the largest data breach of all time. Kind of a big deal …
When You Need More Deats … 
Turns out the hack went down back in 2014, but Yahoo just learned about it in recent months (allegedly). The good news? Unprotected passwords and banking info weren’t stolen. The bad news? The list of stolen information is longer and includes things like: protected passwords, security questions and answers, email addresses, telephone numbers, birth dates, etc. #NoBueno.
When You Need To Protect Yourself … 
Go ahead and change the password to your Yahoo email account like yesterday (especially if you haven’t done so since 2014). Avoid ‘weak’ passwords like ‘Password123;’ Password managers such as 1Password and LastPass can help. Once that’s done, think through your log in information for sensitive accounts like your online banking. If your previous Yahoo email password and/or security Q&As could be remotely similar, go ahead and change those passwords too.  We know … SUCH a headache! #BetterSafeThanSorry
When It’s All Bad … 
Yahoo users aren’t the only ones that need to worry.  This is a massive data breach that’s caught the attention of pretty much everyone and their moms.  And, Yahoo’s reported US $4.8 billion sale to Verizon could be on the line. Can Yahoo catch a break or what?

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON? 

When It’s Been Another Tough Week … 
The killings of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Terence Crutcher and Charlotte, North Carolina’s Keith Lamont Scott has left many feeling disheartened and outraged by the ongoing issue of police officers’ use of force against civilians. People are calling for transparency so we can all have an honest discussion. San Francisco-based nonprofit startup Bayes Impact is working on a new data tool to track ‘violent encounters between officers and civilians.’ Turns out the data on these incidents to date are terrible. Even the FBI’s numbers are off to say the least when it comes to homicides committed by police. Bayes Impact is asking California police departments to record ‘use of force’ incidents (i.e., shooting or assault that leads to death or serious injuries) on its platform called Ursus. Gotta start somewhere …
When You Need A Court Date … 
Not too long ago, messaging app WhatsApp put its users on notice that it would start sharing users’ data with Facebook. It had money from ads on the brain when it made the change. Many people were not happy. Two Indian college students Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi were so peeved that they went ahead and filed a court action law suit against Facebook. In the name of privacy and security, they want the Delhi High Court to tell Facebook to change the WhatsApp privacy policy back to the one we all knew and loved. WhatsApp says privacy and security are non-issues since it’s got end-to-end encryption for messages sent over the platform. 
When You’re Not the Only One Taking Things Back.. 
Google’s Allo is a new messaging app . When the company first introduced its version of  WhatsApp, it made some pretty big statements about privacy and security. We were promised an end-to-end encrypted Incognito Mode. The company also said messages wouldn’t be stored forever but just for a short time. This week, we learned that’s not the case. Messages sent while in the Incognito Mode will be stored by default, and it’s up to the user to actively delete messages. Before you rush to judge, Google says it made the change for a good reason:  To make a quality ‘smart reply’ function, which won’t work well if there’s no data available.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’ 

LinkedIn helps you get a job and now it wants to help you keep it with LinkedIn Learning. The feature relies on Lynda.com courses to help sharpen people’s skills in areas like business, creative, and technology.
Speaking of getting your learn on, MIT’s letting people learn first and pay later for grad level courses through MOOC platform edX.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan made a huge announcement this week.  They’re following in the footsteps of Bill and Melinda Gates and plan to donate US $3 billion to figure out how to cure diseases within the next decade.
Apple may or may not be in acquisition talks with ‘supercar’ company McLaren
Japan just added ‘priests’ to the growing list of people we can get on-demand. Who knew?

WOD (WORD OF THE DAY)

End-to-end encryption: A way to protect information being sent over communication platforms (e.g., WhatsApp) so it can only by read by the people involved in the chat. Third parties won’t be able to access the conversation.  In other words, end-to-end encryption is technology’s way of saying: “This is an ‘A’ and ‘B’ conversation so ‘C’ your way out.’ #Boom