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

Facebook Goes After Your Coins on Messenger

And By ‘Coins,’ We Mean Money Transfers on Messenger 

Facebook Messenger just thought of a new way to remind you when you owe someone money. According to the The Verge, the social network is testing out what we’re calling a new ‘pay back feature.’

messenger

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you’re chatting with your friend about a recent night out. During the convo, someone drops words like ‘IOU’ or ‘ you owe me.’ Facebook’s feature with the help of chat assist and machine learning will pick up on those words or similar phrases.  The feature will then prompt you or your friend to make a payment right then and there.  While the feature does this automatically, it’s up to each party to decide whether they want to settle their debts right there on Messenger or keep their ‘IOU’ status a bit longer.

Just another sign that Facebook’s trying to get deep into the payments game. The company didn’t stop there. It’s also introduced group chat polling to help planning nights out with friends a bit easier.  Turn all the way up tonight or do something more chill and low-key? That could be the question.

U.S. Facebook users are in luck because both features are only available Stateside – for now.

What do you think? Good move by FB or completely unnecessary? Tell us what you think in the comments or take our poll!

Alba Joins Techie Reality Show for Non-Techies

alba gwyn will

Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, and will.i.am are all attached to Apple’s Planet of the Apps. The trio will serve as mentors and advisors on the upcoming reality show.  But, the tech community is not happy about any of this.  Here’s what you need to know:

What is the Planet of the Apps?

Business Insider describes the show as a cross between singing competition show The Voice and startup pitch show Shark Tank. The gist of the show? App developers bring their ideas to fruition, judges pick what they like, then mentors help guide contestants through the process.  Seems more of a cross between Shark Tank and Project Runway to us, but as they say, ‘to-may-to, to-mah-to.’ #MakeItWork

More on ALBA, PALTROW, AND WILL.I.AM’S ROLES?

The show’s official website called on app creators with the following:

“Join us on the search for the next great app in a new original series. Those selected will have the chance to receive hands-on guidance from some of the most influential experts in the tech community, featured placement on the App Store, and funding from top-tier VCs.”

Tech Community Isn’t Here for It …

Apparently, the tech community isn’t here for Jessica Alba or the rest of the trio. Their beef probably has to do with the ‘most influential experts in the tech community’ part. TechCrunch’s Romain Dillet is almost everyone in the tech community when he writes: “I don’t think any of these hosts are qualified to talk about design, engineering or even growth strategy when it comes to releasing a new app on the App Store” (To be fair, Dillet does recognize Alba’s the Honest Company. But, we should also mention that Paltrow runs a digital lifestyle publication called Goop, and will.i.am is the Director of Creative Innovation for Intel – who knew?).

Not Everyone’s on the Same Page…

Others don’t share Dillet’s perspective.  Jeremy Liew, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, a Menlo Park-based venture capital firm with portfolio companies like Snapchat, sees things a little differently. He told Variety that “[c]onsumer technology has become popular culture, as our portfolio companies like Snapchat have demonstrated … We’re excited to work with Apple and visionaries from the tech and entertainment space to discover and enable the next generation of apps that will also become popular culture.” 

What’s Next?

Planet of the Apps is done with its casting call and will begin filming in Los Angeles later this year and into early 2017. The show will be available exclusively on Apple Music or the Apple TV. Other than this reality show, Apple’s also working on CarPool Karaoke made famous by James Corden on “The Late Late Show.”

Penny for Your Thoughts?

We gotta ask: When Planet of the Apps comes out next year, are you in or nah? Tell us in the comments!

Goat App, Marketplace for Shoes, Raises $5 Million

GOAT aka ‘Greatest of All Time’ isn’t just a phrase in one of Drake’s lyrics or a nod to athletes with undeniable talent and accomplishments, it’s also the name of one the hottest sneaker apps.

Created by Eddy Lu and Daishin Sugano as a last-ditch ‘hail Mary’ after a few other failed startup attempts, GOAT is basically Nasty Gal (at its core an e-commerce site for vintage clothes) for shoes. The app is a resale marketplace for people to buy and sell ‘rare sneakers.’ The difference between GOAT and other marketplace platforms? GOAT steps in an intermediary to inspect buyers’ ‘merch’ for quality before it’s delivered to their doors.

goat

According to Recode, during Black Friday 2015, GOAT launched a pretty ballsy strategy to get people to download the app. It offered impossible to get shoes – Kanye West’s Yeezy Boost 350) – at a discounted price. Naturally, chaos ensued. So many sneaker-heads bombarded the app until it crashed.  Harsh words from potential app users + 10,000 potential sellers on your waitlist = Mission accomplished!

GOAT just raised $5 million and is looking to transition its wait listed sellers into active users without skimping on quality of service. It’s also looking to make a little bit of profit sooner rather than later.

Check out a video below of a GOAT user’s review of the app. He seems pretty happy about it. What about you? Would you use this app? Tell us what you think in the comments.

 

Amazon Music Streaming Coming Soon…

Amazon to take on Spotify and Apple, Inc. 

The word on the street is that Internet company Amazon is stepping into the ring with music streaming services like Spotify and Apple, Inc.  The e-commerce company is about to grace us with its very own music streaming service.

Amazon

The company already offers a free streaming music service to Prime subscribers. But, “free-99” has its drawbacks as the catalog is rather sparse. Rumor has it that the new service will have a more robust catalog of songs for US $9.99/ month. Although the company has been mum on this new service, reports claim that it should be available come this fall.

The company’s decision to enter a crowded market is to solidify its position as a one-stop shop for all content and consumer goods.

You probably already have your music streaming faves, but would you be willing to give a new Amazon music service a go? Let us know in the comments!

Microsoft and LinkedIn Get Together

Tech Giant and Professional Network Say “I Do”

Microsoft and LinkedIn just announced that they have decided to become one. According to reports, Microsoft plans to buy the professional social network for a cool US $26 billion in cash money.

So, why is this happening?LinkedIn, Microsoft

The merger is a win-win situation for both companies. Linking up with LinkedIn allows Microsoft to dive into enterprise social media services. While LinkedIn can have some peace of mind in an increasingly competitive market.  In other words, LinkedIn can now be more competitive when matched up against other companies using their social graphs to potentially compete against the professional network.

What does it mean for us – the average LinkedIn user?

Not to worry, even though LinkedIn will become part of Microsoft’s productivity and business processes segment, it will still keep its branding and product.

Is the deal finished or is it done? 

The short answer is “no.” Both companies’ boards have given the go ahead.  LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman led the deal. In a statement, he said “Today is a re-founding moment for LinkedIn. I see incredible opportunity for our members and customers and look forward to supporting this new and combined business. I fully support this transaction and the Board’s decision to pursue it, and will vote my shares in accordance with their recommendation on it.”

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner also had positive things to say about the new partnership. Weiner penned a blog post where he said that this merger is simply just the next phase in the company fulfilling its mission.  Read the full post here.

But, there is still more to do. More hoops to jump through to finish the deal. Regulators in the United States, the European Union, Canada, and Brazil still need to give LinkedIn and Microsoft their blessing.

 

 

Peer-To-Peer (Money) Petty

PayPal-owned peer-to-peer money transfer app Venmo is a hit among millennials because of its social feed.  While Venmo users are launching the app to complete transactions a couple of times a week, they’re spending most of their time checking out what their friends are doing. Who charged who and for what? It’s a good way to get all up in people’s business. Although the app is a quick and efficient way to reimburse your friends, it turns out that the app may be turning your peers into petty people.

venmo

A recent QZ article documented how ‘p2p petty’ may be the trend. The article suggests that “invoicing” friends after sharing an experience (i.e., a night in with Netflix and wine, sharing cab rides, meeting up for drinks, etc.) is fast becoming commonplace.  To avoid any awkward situations with friends, a select few are avoiding downloading the app and opting to deal in traditional cash money instead.

Which camp do you fall in? Tell us your petty story with Venmo or other peer-to-peer money transfer services!

Google Introduces “Spaces”

The late singer Aaliyah said, “if at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.” And after the lukewarm reception of Google+, Google is doing just that when it comes to being “social.”

The company just announced Spaces, a new app that the company says will bring “people together instantly to share around any topic.” Since the app will be linked to other Google products like Search, YouTube, and Chrome, it’ll be easy to find and share content (i.e., articles, videos, and images) all within the app. The word on the street is that the app is pretty user-friendly, only requiring a single tap to launch a new space for your group chat.

shares pic

Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and general group sharing apps are ramping up worldwide. Fun Fact: In 2015, about 75 percent of Internet users worldwide accessed messaging services on mobile devices.

We’re all looking for ways to stay connected and keep up with each other. So, now seems like a good time for Google to get into the social game with a new product. You can get the Spaces app today (available on Android, iOS, desktop, and mobile web for Gmail accounts).

What do you think? Will you be trading in Messenger or WhatsApp for Spaces?