Thursday, June 8Welcome

Why Google’s Support for Black Tech Nation Really Matters

At the outset of the Black Tech Nation and Google partnership celebration, Kelauni Jasmyn reminded attendees ranging from investors to technologists: The black community is still pretty underrepresented in the tech world.

Case in point: typically only 1% of VC goes to black founders. Jasmyn explained that access to capital can be a barrier to entry for black technologists and founders into the space. This is unfortunate because tech entrepreneurship presents a huge opportunity to build wealth within the black community.

That’s one of the reasons Black technologists are supported by networks and funding, and are grateful to have Google’s support in building a foundation to accelerate their work.

The plan was to invite 60 guests to Thursday night’s event. But eventually her 120 supporters filled a packed room inside Google’s Bakery Square office. Throughout the night, guests celebrated the Black Tech Nation’s efforts, heard from local founders, and discussed what they wanted Pittsburgh’s tech future to look like.

When Jasmyn came to Pittsburgh for Academy Pittsburgh’s web development bootcamp in 2016, he found that connecting with other Black technologists and entrepreneurs is often easier said than done. . So she told the crowd that she founded her non-profit Black Tech Nation to fill an unmet need.

“I started trying to put together a little bit for people who look like me in the tech industry, people who understand what I was going through,” said Jasmine. “And in the last few years, we’ve grown into a much more company.

Google’s office in Bakery Square. (technical photo)

Black Tech Nation has created Black Tech Nation Ventures, a $50 million fund in 2021. We have been investing in startups since December last year and continue to grow, thanks in part to funding from our corporate partners, including Google.

The nonprofit was previously mostly funded by foundations, but Google represents the first Big Tech partnership, Jasmyn told Google will bring additional resources, visibility and deeper roots to the nonprofit sector to help make it a space for black entrepreneurs and technologists.

And in September, Black Tech Nation Ventures was selected as one of six black-led venture capital firms in the US as part of a $60 million allocation from Google’s CapitalG investment fund. (Specific financial details have not been disclosed.)

Jasmyn already has a connection with Google since her days as a technologist, and was thinking of Google when she was trying to get support for the expansion of the Black Tech Nation, she said Thursday.

In the summer of 2020, she noticed more companies interested in showing her financial backing.

“In 2020, I was contacted by people who were viciously murdered George Floyd and were finally ready to make that promise,” Jasmine said. I told them my vision and they loved it, so we decided to continue supporting and growing Pittsburgh’s existing black tech entrepreneurs as well as spotlighting them. We have decided to form a partnership to

Support for the Black Tech Nation goes beyond businesses.

Among the speakers at the celebratory event was Lieutenant Governor-Elect Austin Davis, who explained that the event was the first in his recent role as the soon-to-be-inaugurated lieutenant governor. During his time as a Pennsylvania legislator, Mr. Davis sponsored legislation to support investment in tech career education, and Mon He attended seminars for small businesses in the Valley area.

However, as he told the crowd, he showed up at this celebration only because the influential Jasmine asked him to.

“When Kelauni calls, I listen,” Davis quipped.

Governor-Elect Austin Davis. (Photo by Atiyah Ervin Mitchell)

Recalling the trajectory of the campaign, Davis said he had the opportunity to meet with several Black entrepreneurs and was looking forward to supporting them in their new capacity. He acknowledged that he still has a long way to go to support his family.

“The reality is that the state government is far behind his goals in terms of purchasing power. I got

Davis praised Black Tech Nation Ventures for being an organization that already helps black founders succeed, citing plans to create a Black Business Center and support for black businesses from the Department of Regional Social and Economic Development. Used for investment.

“We know there is a lot of work ahead of us over the next four years, but we are confident that together we can make Pennsylvania a leader in black business.

Jim Gibbs, co-founder and CEO of Meter Feeder, told the audience that as a black man in tech, the problem of success is not just impostor syndrome, it’s a problem of erasure. His name has been attached to his successful mobile parking his platform and Google’s he is also one of the 2021 Black Founders Fund winners, but some people believe he was his 1980s I don’t believe you are coding from

Luckily, there was a Google employee who saw his potential. Among them was Paul Buchheit, an engineer best known for developing Gmail, and Matt Cutts, another of his Google engineers who led the SafeSearch team. Cutts, in particular, was his second investor in Meter Feeder.

“Matt Cutts believed in me. Paul Buchheit believed in me because I could sit there and talk to him about the art of computer programming,” Gibbs said. said. “The reason for this [Black Tech Nation Ventures] Because we need to find someone who really believes in us. ”

Jim Gibbs (Photo by Atiya Irvin-Mitchell)

Reflecting on the event, Jasmyn told that he felt it was just what he needed to build trust with the tech community and the wider Black Pittsburgh community.

Above all, she wants people to know that the partnership is about Pittsburgh.

“By putting money into communities that need it and providing capital to those that need it, we can level the playing field for technology and entrepreneurship opportunities,” said Jasmyn. increase.

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 squad member for Report for America. This is an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by Heinz Endowments.


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