CNN's Black in America: Soledad O'Brien in Conversation with Diversity@Google


Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 14.11.2011

Transcript:
>>Female Presenter: Without further ado, I'd like to introduce David Crane from Google
Ventures.
[applause]
>>DAVID CRANE: Good late morning/ early afternoon. Thanks to everybody for coming to Google and
convening together around what's guaranteed to be a super exciting screening of a very,
very important documentary.
I think we're brought together today because something called the "Global Employee Resource
Group Summit" has been taking place for the last couple days. I'm reading my cue notes
here, as you can tell. This is an important activity, though. This is a group of Googlers
that have come together to focus attention and time on planning, leadership development,
and relationship-building, all organized around diversity.
I've been at Google a dozen years and one of the sources of great personal pride is
watching this diversity initiative first be dreamed up and then actually built, scaled,
and executed. And I'm so proud of what my colleagues do in all areas of diversity, particularly
in this one area that we're spending some time paying attention to today.
This documentary--this is, I think, a multi-year project at CNN. We're in the fourth year.
This particular program, as you will soon see, I had a small participation role. I spent
some time being able to see a number of very inspired, very talented entrepreneurs that
spent a summer at Silicon Valley chasing their dreams and trying to understand whether they
could turn those dreams into businesses.
It was a pleasure to see them, to interact with them, to see their first pitches, their
first public articulations of what they're doing. And in just a few minutes, you're gonna
see the output of an interesting project that CNN has invested in to chronicle this journey,
to illustrate some of their challenges, some of their successes.
As soon as the documentary is over, there will be a very interesting panel discussion
led by a few folks that are sitting up here. So please stick around. Without further ado,
let's roll that video. Thank you.
[applause]
>>Michelle Thornton: So, we expect you're gonna tell everyone to watch, right? November
13th? OK. Great. I'm Michelle Thornton. I work for CNN. I get to hang out with Soledad
sometimes. I try not to stand too close 'cause she always tries to look kinda cute.
[laughter]
And I have, or at least, my job at CNN is to monetize content like this because it's
important for two reasons. One, of course, funding. That's what this conversation is
about.
But advertisers wanna have this conversation with you guys. You guys are consumers. And
they wanna let you know they respect content like this. The other reason I wanna do it--let
me tell you--I never get to wear blue jeans at CNN, OK?
[laughter]
So, thank you so much for hosting this. When LaFawn Bailey calls, we say yes. We don't
ask what it is. But in all seriousness, we don't see conversations like this, right?
We see comedy and we see other genres. But we don't see real conversations about real
serious topics. So, we want you to support and watch and tweet and Google+ [laughter]
this type of content. So, I have the privilege today to introduce all of the panelists. I
was told by my good friend Soledad to tell you that this wasn't the ending.
So, there is a cliffhanger. So you'll get to see, hopefully, some good news. Our moderator,
Navarrow, is the--it says here CTO. Don't you guys hate that? He's the Chief Technology
Officer, in case someone didn't know what that meant.
>>Navarrow: This is the one place they would actually know what that meant.
>>Michelle Thornton: Oh, OK. All right. Good. Good. Good.
[laughter]
See? I kinda fit in. I kinda don't. And then, of course, Soledad, who by the way, is our
new morning anchor starting in January. Yay.
[applause]
With that being said, we cannot let her get away from telling stories like this. So, we're
going to see her around these docs, but she will also be the face from 7 to 9. So, we're
very proud of her.
Second up is Chris Genteel. Chris? All right. He said he might sing a song for us.
[applause]
Or maybe not. He's said the Black Eyed Peas were here yesterday. So how come we didn't
get to come yesterday? What's really going on? And then, as you saw on the screen, is
Ang--. Here goes Angela. Angela.
[applause]
So, we can't show a doc and not have a conversation. They're gonna talk and then they're gonna
allow you guys to ask some questions. So, enjoy.
>>Navarrow: So, how's everybody doing?
>>Audience: Good.
>>Navarrow: It's a little different from the last time I sat in this chair, as you can
see on the doc. So first, I'm sorry, I had to run over there and charge up my iPhone.
It won't keep a battery. If you guys can suggest another platform I might switch to afterwards.
[laughter] Let me know. We can talk after. So this is gonna be really informal. We're
gonna have some conversation up here. I want you guys to be involved. I'm hoping you have
a lot of questions.
And we'll make it engaging. But first, I wanna start with Soledad. For people who may not
know about the "Black in America" series, maybe you can talk about why you and CNN feel
it's important to tell these stories and what the effect has been.
>>Soledad : I'll have to start at the very beginning then. The "Black in America" series
started 2007, when we started working on a six-hour, three-part documentary, which really
started with the anniversary--the 40th anniversary, of the assassination of Dr. King.
And I was asked by the head of CNN Worldwide, "Do you think there would be an interest in
a look at the assassination of Dr. King and also African Americans--'Black in America'?"
So with that, we took the ball and started running with it.
And we did a two-hour documentary on the assassination of Dr. King, and then, two more days of two-hour
docs with our first "Black in America." And it was wildly successful. Some people loved
it. Some people hated it. But what it did do is spur a lot of conversation about stories
that clearly were not being told.
And in fact, probably the biggest compliment that I got when people would stand up at anything
else I was doing and say, "When are you doing 'Asian in America'? How about 'Caribbean in
America'?" My own mother said, "Oh, so no Afro-Cubans in your little documentary.
[laughter]
Interesting. Those are your own people you let down." So, it was just really successful.
And I think it was a moment that people felt--. For me, we saw that we could do these really
interesting stories about people whose stories really didn't get told and you could also
win.
It was wildly successful ratings-wise. It was just a big win across the board and it
didn't have to be stuck in a, "Well, we're doing this programming because it's a good
thing to do. And if no one watches it, that's OK because we've done our good deed on the
diversity front."
It was like, "Wow. We can win with this." And then after that, we started doing "Latino
in America." And then we created the unit, "In America," in order to tell a bunch of
stories. We did "Gay in America," "Muslim in America," "Education in America," "Working
in America"--looking at coal miners.
And again, we were just really successful. So, out of that, the "Black in America" series,
we kept thinking about, "Well, what are the stories you could do?" The first one was really
a survey. The third one was a look at--. The second one was another survey and we decided
then to take a look in the third one in a single topic, which was a church and a pastor
and what that church was doing at a very tough time economically.
And then, this one, of course, was--. So, we try to connect what's happening in the
story-- a single subject story--to what's also happening in the world at that moment.
So, how do you make it relevant news-wise, but also compelling, interesting?
'Cause a documentary is a story that's unfolding in real-time, or something is at risk, or
you're cheering for people, you're rooting for people and there's something happening.
That's our definition of how we do documentaries. And so, we really think on this one in particular,
you end up touching a nerve when people start arguing about the parts of your documentary,
right?
Because it means you've really hit something relevant that people are willing to go and
shout about their perspective. And I love, ultimately, for all of our documentaries--it's
about a conversation. So, if we're able to get people to stand up and yell on one side
or the other, or talk--hopefully--in a more calm tone about one side or the other to start
a conversation, then I think we've been really successful.
>>Navarrow: So, I'm sure we can all think of thousand topics we'd want them to cover.
Can you talk about why you chose this topic?
>>Soledad: You know, again, I think for documentaries--any documentary--it's "are the characters great?"
We went out. Jason Samuels, our producer who's in New York today, but who's been literally
emailing me constantly, "Tell me. What's the blow by blow? What are they laughing at? What
do the people think?”
So he came out and really met with Angela. And at first, over the phone, and then met
all the people in the house. Because the truth is, are they good characters? We call them
characters? Are they interesting? Do you care about them? Do you want to see them win or
lose or struggle?
If you do not care, it will be a terrible documentary. And then, it was clearly in a
house--eight people in a three-bedroom house--was already going to provide some issues in terms
of just people close together in a small space who have a lot going on and who were stressed.
As Pius pointed out in the doc, no drinking, no hot tubs. So, it certainly wasn't going
to the "The Real World" or anything. But it certainly, I thought, was a way to explore
an issue that was relevant. And then again, "Does race matter?" is a very interesting
question to me.
I think of our "Black in America's" really, ultimately, can be boiled down to that question.
Does race matter?
[Soledad laughs]
>>Navarrow: Sign off on the crowd. So, Angela. Can you tell us a little bit about what made
you decide to create The NewMe Accelerator?
>>Angela: I'll try not to get too lengthy, but--. So, as you saw, I had a site called
BlackWhite 2 point 0, and I started that about four years ago. And then, last year in 2010,
I had a conference called the "NewMe Conference." And we invited entrepreneurs and people in
government and also people in private equity.
And it was a day and a half. And we basically closed it out with brainstorming--what it
would really take for minority entrepreneurs to be successful in the technology industry.
And one of those things was an accelerator, but the idea just seemed so huge, so--it was
just in the back of my head someplace.
Wayne, I've known for a while actually online, how I meet most of my friends. [chuckles]
But he had the idea for a start-up house. So, it brought really this residential component
to what an accelerator is. And then also, when I went back and looked at my notes from
the conference, it really helped satisfy a lot of the barriers that people said existed.
So, it's really expensive to live out here. People felt like they were disconnected and
couldn't actually come out here and just relocate. So, that was one thing that really helped
lower that barrier. And then people just felt like they didn't have a network at all.
And that really hindered their ability for their companies to be successful. So, giving
them mentorship, a network, and just real--not a curriculum--but just knowledge from other
people's experiences. It just turned into an accelerator.
>>Navarrow: So, Chris. You were here at the welcoming site. You were sitting in the audience.
Maybe, can you give us some of your impressions that day of that event?
>>CHRIS: Sure. You've got entrepreneurs who have never been in that position before, maybe
being somewhat on the spot. And getting access to minds like yours and David Crane. And getting
at that real, live--an old mentor of mine used to call it--the "oh, shit" moment. [laughter]
This is the real moment. And you could see from that moment on, over the course of the
summer, and I think the piece captured it really well, just elevating the stakes of
the whole thing--making it really real. We were proud to see that be at the beginning,
of seeing that.
And then, seeing that transformation. And also knowing that raising that game and having
that success was within their reach because now, we're here. We're part of the mix in
Silicon Valley.
>>Navarrow: So, Angela. We know that that was a challenging day for all the entrepreneurs.
Can you talk a little bit about some of the other challenges you faced that you maybe
didn't expect to face when you guys started this program in the Valley?
>>Angela: Yeah. There are a lot of very little reasons, very little things, that I just like--just
different situations. I really just expected, I guess, people to be a little bit more like
me and just really focus in on the work and not other issues, and really commit to that
for nine weeks.
But there were other things that came up around transportation, [chuckles] around what type
of food people wanted to eat, and just other little things like that that I didn't even
think of at all.
>>Navarrow: So how important was it to do it here, in Silicon Valley?
>>Angela: Oh, it was hugely important. Mainly because this is the epicenter for technologies.
So, it really had to be here. Not only that, there aren't really many minorities in the--well,
African Americans specifically--area. So, for us to do it in New York or Atlanta, it
would not have had the same impact at all.
>>Navarrow: Soledad, after meeting the characters and getting in-depth in their stories, can
you talk about maybe who surprised you or who stood out to you in terms of their stories,
the things you learned about them?
>>Soledad : You know, when I meet people, again, 'cause my job is--I'm a storyteller,
right? So, my job is to sit in on this and say, "So, what's the best way to tell this
story?" And not just to a room of people who are in technology, but to a room of people
who know nothing about technology, or their only technology is their mobile device and
that's it.
And how do we make that story live and be relevant and interesting? So, it really was
digging into people's stories. For me, what struck me about Angela was all that she was
juggling. That here's a woman who's a mom, a single mom of three kids, who she has left
behind at home while she is working on this big idea.
And she's got this company she's also trying to launch at the same time. And she has all
these little things in the Accelerator that she has to manage that have popped up--some
big little things and some little little things. And every time I'd see Angela, she was pacing.
On the phone and pacing. On the phone and pacing. When I asked the question--. The first
time I saw Angela, we drove up and Jason said, "Oh yeah. That's Angela. The house is down
there, but that's Angela." And there was a woman in sweats, pacing up and down.
So I'm like, "That's the woman running the house? She's pacing up and down." So, we really
wanted to capture that incredible pressure that is on someone who both really, personally
wants to make a difference, but also really personally wants to be successful, too.
And as a person who has before, many times in her life, people have low expectations
of what she can achieve and she's always said, "Well, low expectations doesn't mean I'm not
gonna achieve." So, we wanted to get that in there, too. I love Anthony and I think
when I watch the doc, I always feel that my love of Anthony comes out because he's the
youngest.
He's 25. And he told me--we didn't really have the ability to put it in the documentary
and I tried 8000 different ways--but the thing he said to me, which broke my heart and made
me love him more, he said, "You know--." He started really playing around with video games
and really just being in technology when he was about 7th grade he said.
And he just loved computers. He loved technology. But as he went through school, there was no
one to capture that and channel him into, "Well, if you love that, you should be doing
this. Well, if you love that, you could be doing this."
And so, he was sort of, by his guidance counselor, who sounds like a jerk, kind of forced in
a direction, "Well, just go to community college and do this and do that." And not really put
on a program where he could take what he's passionate about clearly, and combine that
with a fabulous job at the end.
And he said, "You know, if me, today, had been in front of me as a 7th grader, my life
would be totally different." Honestly, it just broke my heart. It just, because he,
and he said it in a way--. And the way I've said it is so inarticulate compared to how
Anthony said it.
He said, "I would be a totally different person if the person I am today stood in front of
a classroom full of me, young men, who love games and who love that kind of technology,
and I said, 'Be an engineer. It matters because you can create those games that you love.'"
And so, this is his reason for trying to be part of the Accelerator. He feels really connected
to all those other kids who look like him in Newark, New Jersey. And we will put some
more clips online just 'cause I love that so much. And obviously, we have an hour, so
it's not that you have an unlimited amount of space.
And think that was true for a lot of the founders, right? There's this personal part of it, too,
that makes you want to succeed. 'Cause it's not just about you. If you succeed, that's
great 'cause everyone wants to be a gajillionaire. But also, you can change the game for other
people.
You could literally open up everybody's--you know the pattern matching, right? You can
change the pattern, but you could also inspire people. You could be literally a role model
and someone could say, "I wanna be Anthony Frasier. You saw Anthony Frasier?
He just sold his company for a billion dollars. I wanna be Anthony Frasier." That, to me,
would be an incredibly great indication of the needle moving for this industry.
>Navarrow: Chris, we've talked about some of the challenges in trying to connect minorities
with technology. Maybe you can talk about why Google decided to partner with the NewMe
Accelerator? And also about just Google's efforts around diversity in general.
>>CHRIS: Sure. I'm on our Diversity Inclusion team. And there's literally probably 20 or
so people in this audience who do participate in our efforts to help black-owned businesses
get online and be successful, using our tools and just using the power of the internet to
get their business online and get in front of customers.
And of course, we're a technology business. And we've seen the immense profit, immense
growth in technology. And we don't see those businesses reflected in our customer base,
and we don't see them reflected in the Valley.
When we met Angela, who I think is a role model for a lot the Googlers here, someone
who is successful, young, black, female, in tech--and she came to Google and spoke to,
I think, maybe 30 or so black Googlers in a room that didn't really fit that many, [chuckles]
and then some by video conference, who video conferenced in to see her--it was inspiring.
And it was obvious that we needed to find ways to partner with her, to help us change
what we saw as a problem in Silicon Valley. So, NewMe, Angela and I, were sitting on stage
for a panel at the Black Enterprise Conference and it was May 23rd, or something, of this
year.
And she said, "I think I wanna do this Accelerator." And we were here on June 16th making that
happen. It was incredible, the speed with which she moved to that, which is something
that at Google, we know something about, which is moving really quickly.
And when you see someone like that, who just so embodied the spirit of that tech and quick
and "let's get it done," you know that you have to partner.
>>Soledad : Can I add just one quick thing to that? And I think for the documentary,
what we loved about Angela is, again, the room that I'm talking to for our doc is not
a room full of technologists. I think Angela is inspiring to everyone, right?
Somebody who says against all odds, "Well, I have this thing. And I think I wanna do
it. And I think I can do it. And if I can just get some support together, I can do it.
And even if I'm driven a little bit crazy every step of the way--'cause that's how things
go--I'm still gonna try to be successful."
I think that's incredibly inspirational to me, who I hand off my technology when I have
a problem. Here, someone fix that for me. Thank you. [giggles] So, I think that my goal
in this doc as well, is to highlight people who are inspirational. And the only way to
be inspirational is to go through something on-screen so people see what you're dealing
with, and the challenges, and to see how you come out the other side.
>>Navarrow: So, Angela. Everyone in this room can appreciate execution. We know the value
is all about execution and we've heard several cases now that you moved at a rapid pace.
How does it feel seeing your idea come from that idea on the Black Enterprise panel to
fully-executed, first launch class?
>>Angela: It feels great. And actually, every time I see the doc, it takes me really back
to the moments of the summer. And it's like, I get all happy and stuff inside. And I can't
wait for the next cycles and everything.
So, it feels great. And I'm really excited to hear what everyone else thinks about it.
And then once it airs on November 13th, just to see what really, the world, thinks about
it, too.
>>Navarrow: So, as you can see from the doc, I had a lot of opinions. So, if you categorize
me as the angry uncle of NewMe, I'd have to categorize Mitch Kapor as the Godfather of
NewMe. So, Mitch, I wanna throw a question to you. You were deeply involved in the process.
Maybe tell everybody your impressions about the program, the group, and Angela, and just
the process that happened largely in your facility.
>>Mitch Kapor: I've been involved in helping a number of Accelerators, Y Combinator and
others, and heard about NewMe. And because it intersected thematically with other things
that Frieda, my wife and I, are doing up in San Francisco with the Level Playing Field
Institute and my foundation, I immediately said, "Great. I'll do something here."
When I met Angela and the entrepreneurs early in the cycle, I was really impressed. I was
impressed with the seriousness. I was impressed with the dedication and I thought a number
of the ideas that they were working on were pretty good ideas.
So, I doubled down and said, "All right. I'll get more involved. I'll make some time. I
want to do some mentoring--take people through the process, share my experience." And then,
we made our office space available to hold the demo day in.
And I'm hoping and believing that with Angela being out here now, the goal of establishing
NewMe as an ongoing, recurring--not a one-time thing--but something that can regularly be
a way to facilitating increased participation for African Americans in Silicon Valley.
We're helping with that. We think that's incredibly important. Ultimately, we'd like to see it
not just in Silicon Valley, but elsewhere. It's just that important. I mean, the stakes
are huge. Not just for the individuals, but as I said in the clip in the movie, economically,
if you look at demographics in the US, by 2040, we're gonna be a majority/minority country.
And if we're not developing every single talented individual to do what they can, we're not
gonna be competitive as an economy. So, the other thing to keep in mind though, is like
any other population of entrepreneurs. The history, background, skills, quality of ideas,
persistence--there's variation among individuals.
And it's been very interesting for me to see, not only during the nine weeks, but subsequently.
You can begin to see who is really more likely to succeed as the group sorts itself out.
But overall, this is just such a necessary, such a gratifying thing.
And I'm so pleased that CNN and Soledad and Jason and the whole team put all of the effort
into this because it is gonna shine a light on this issue and as we say, start conversations
which need to happen. Silicon Valley has a very difficult time talking about race.
Anybody who follows the twittersphere and the blogosphere has seen that play itself
out in the past week. And I'm hoping that those conversations will improve and people
will find it easier to talk about real and important things--not necessarily to get everybody
to agree, but to talk about one more elephant in the room.
>>Navarrow: So, Soledad.
>>Soledad : Yes.
>>Navarrow: Mitch talked about it a little bit. Can you talk a little about what the
effect the "Black in America" docs have on raising the conversation on the given topic?
I think we've all seen over just the last week, the doc hasn't even aired yet and there's
been a lot of activity on Twitter. But I actually only saw it on Google+.
[laughter]
So, I don't know where anyone else saw it. Was it anywhere else? I'm not sure.
[laughter]
But maybe talk about how the documentaries have raised conversations on this. How do
you see that this documentary may raise that conversation?
>>Soledad : I think the documentaries have been successful across a number of categories.
And in terms of spawning conversations, they've been really successful. And I figured that
after the first one when people would stop me in the airport--any airport, anywhere--and
say, "You wanna know 'Black in America?'
My life is 'Black in America.' Put me on TV."
[laughter]
Like, 25 times a day. And people who loved it or hated it would say, "I hated what you
did. I should be the next 'Black in America.'" Or, "I loved what you did. I should be the
next 'Black in America.'" And it was really clear to me that there were just all these
stories that were not getting any kind of airtime, and certainly not in a long form
way, but just all stories.
I mean, really, not just for African Americans, but I think for Latinos, for Asians, for Native
Americans, who get literally no coverage at all. And I thought, really what the "Black
in America" series has done, I think, in terms of shining a light on "you can tell stories
on diverse populations."
And by "diverse populations," I mean women who were rescue workers at Ground Zero. And
you can do really well. Again, it doesn't have to be often, I think, in TV news when
we tip our hat to diversity, it's that "here you go, here it's Women's Month and here's
a story on this.
And now it's Latino Heritage and here's a story on this. “The world is changing. The
audience is changing. And guess what. Everybody is interested in these conversations. You
can win and you can do them well, so you can do quality work that wins awards, that is
well done, that people wanna run home and watch and be part of and be part of the conversation.
So, for a journalist, I look at that as winning across the board. And that was really critical.
>>Michelle Thornton: Can you just add real quick, because I think it's changed people's
lives through pairing and funding and money?
>>Soledad : Oh, yeah. That's true. There's no question. I mean, I end up keeping in touch
very much. Like, Angela, in 20 years, you and I will still be talking because I--.
>>Michelle Thornton: You'll be famous.
>>Soledad : And I'll be trying to get a seat to do an interview with you.
>>Michelle Thornton: Right.
>>Soledad : What we found is that what we did for our second "Black in America"--. The
first "Black in America," Roland Fryer, Professor at Harvard. He just won a Genius Grant and
so we obviously keep in touch with the work that he's doing in education.
Steve Perry from the second "Black in America," who has now expanded his school, which was
a six through twelve. And now, he's opened an elementary school. And he's a contributor
on the education space on CNN. We just continually, I think, are able to change lives.
For me personally, my husband and I started a foundation after Hurricane Katrina. But
after the first "Black in America," one of the young women that we interviewed was a
girl named Nya Buckley and she was getting an HIV test. And afterwards, I said to her--this
beautiful, smart, sharp girl.
I said to her, "Why are you here? Did you go to college?" And she said, "I have a baby.
I have no one to handle the daycare." So I said, "OK." After the doc aired, "I'll pay
for your daycare if you go to college." And now, she's a junior at Lehman College. And
we have a bunch of other people--Maria Arquetto, who we did in Latino in America 2, who swam
across the Rio Grande to get to America and ended up in detention and then was able to
get a visa and now is on her path to citizenship.
She's starting community college in a couple months. So, I think we were able to really
connect people to those stories because people were rooting and caring about those very characters.
So, I think we have. I mean, it sounds so dramatic to say we've changed lives, but I
do think when you open things up to a conversation, you certainly allow for the ability for lives
to change.
>>CHRIS: And Soledad, all those people who stop you in the airport, we want to remind
you that they can all be "Black and Latino in America" on YouTube every day.
[laughter]
So, park that one back here. We're gonna talk about that later.
[clapping]
>>Soledad : Trademark, "Black in America," by the way.
[laughter]
>>CHRIS: All right.
>>Soledad: Our lawyers can talk. We're good.
>>Navarrow: So, Angela. Maybe we can talk a little bit about, you know, Soledad mentioned
there's only so much they can show in an hour, right? So, what are some of the things that
happened that were key experiences for you and the group that didn't make it to the doc
that you really want people to know and understand?
>>Angela: Really, like the sleepless nights. So, I think you get a little bit of that,
but we also did--we did work a lot. But we really did a lot of other stuff. And I think
part of this whole being black in technology conversation, a part of that is mentorship.
So, another thing that we did that didn't make it to the doc is we actually went--well,
not me--but a couple of the founders who have STEM degrees actually went to UC Berkeley,
to speak with some children from a program called SMASH, that's put on by the Level Playing
Field Institute.
And that was a really, really rewarding experience because you could really see it making a connection
in these kid's lives. And them coming up even to me-- I was just there because the founders
were there--asking, "Can I email you? I have questions."
I mean, it was just a really, really good experience to have in life. So, it was tons
of experiences like that. And really, I think you guys got our dynamic in the house, but
really the friendships that were developed out of this. Like, I saw Pius and Becky last
night.
And the people I've been seeing, I've been--. I did move here, but I've been heads-down
for the past month, so a lot of the people that I'm seeing, I haven't seen them since
the last day of the program. And just rekindling those friendships and those relationships--that
was huge.
And I think that's really what makes the program different from other Incubators and Accelerators
is the residential part and these relationships that end up developing.
>>Navarrow: Chris, maybe you can talk a little bit about--. We understand that there's just
a lack of knowledge. And I think the key part of Angela bringing these people in the house
is that they were exposed to a lot of things that otherwise they might not have had knowledge
of. Maybe you can talk a little bit about--.
I know you guys have programs like Google Accelerate. How do we leverage those and get
those into the community in a big way to make sure that more people can even know about
Angela's program?
>>Chris: That's what we're working on. I think we have tools that are, for the most part,
free, that can empower the millions of, the two and half million black businesses that
are out there. And a lot of folks just don't know about it. So, a couple of things that
we're doing is we're working with some very specific partners, like the National Supplier
Diversity Network, or Black Enterprise Magazine, to try to tell the story very loudly about
how the web empowers business, how the web empowers growth.
We're also working on some other programs to make sure that people are using Google
in their business, that they're using our Gmail apps and docs apps and things like that.
And when we get in front of individual folks and when we give them these products, it lights
them up.
We're giving away free websites to every business in America through a program that we've been
piloting and getting out. In Detroit two weeks ago, we had a thousand different entrepreneurs
come downtown. It was a majority minority crowd, which you would think would be the
case if you were in downtown Detroit.
But I'll tell you, it's not the case unless you bring in the right partners, unless you
bring in folks like Angela and Hajj Flemings, one of the entrepreneurs from gokit, who's
one of our partners in Detroit.
Unless you bring those folks in and they get the word out to their communities. Unless
you get into the faith community. Unless you get into the folks who really are saying,
"This is something that can help your business." So, we're doing things like that across the
country to raise that awareness, get those tools out in front of them and empower them
to create huge businesses online.
>>Navarrow: Just a thought, Chris, there's a little company called Interactive One and
we service maybe 85 percent of the African American market. If you're looking for new
partners, I could probably put you in touch with some.
>>Chris: All right. If you know anyone--.
>>Navarrow: You know what? Let's talk after. I think I can make that call.
>>Chris: Thanks.
>>Navarrow: So, I want to open it up to questions, but before we do that, I wanna give Angela
the opportunity to talk to people about what's in store for the future of the NewMe Accelerator.
>>Angela: Wow. So, all my big ideas. So of course, I want it to be everywhere. But we're
taking baby steps. One of the really great things that I'm excited to finally be able
to tell people today is Google is actually gonna be the presenting sponsor for all of
2012.
And so what that really means for the program is that we'll be based in Mountain View again,
but we'll also be working out of the space here. And so, that’s--.
[clapping]
>>Navarrow: That's clappable, right?
>>Soledad : Now I have to go into a re-edit.
>>Angela: Yeah, so lots of re-editing for you guys, [chuckles] but yeah. So that's really
exciting. Also, some other stuff that I'm working on is like, yes, there's the Accelerator,
which will still stay in the same shape that's it's in. But some other things that I also
want to do is have a NewMe community, which that goes into other submarkets--maybe like
Atlanta, Chicago, and so on and so forth.
And those are really like community-driven where it's not the full blown program, but
it's a smaller version of the program where we can pull from communities that are under-served.
So, we are working with some partners on that. And so hopefully, I can tell you guys more
about that soon, too.
>>Navarrow: So, great. Any questions from the group? I think we have a microphone that's
ready to travel if you raise your hand.
>>MALE #1: Hi, everybody. Thanks for coming. My name's Isaiah. I've been working here at
Google for about a year and a half now. One thing that I thought was really interesting
when watching the documentary was one of the characters.
He had success at getting funding before and had some failures. And so for me, that highlighted
a bigger problem that once minorities actually get here in this space and got the funding,
it seems like even more people are not achieving the success that they would like to.
So, I just wanted to hear your thoughts on what's being done to address--. Or, what some
of the bigger challenges are in staying here once you've gotten your idea adopted and gotten
the funding you needed to and what can be done, or what we can do to provide resources
to help people maintain their success?
>>Angela: Sure. Well, I think, I mean, entrepreneurship, it's--. The Accelerator focuses on something
that's very early-stage, but it really is a journey and it's a longer life cycle. So,
for Hank, part of the story that wasn't told is when he was working on Clickradio, that
wasn’t the first dot com bust.
So yes, he raised 40 million dollars, but his business suffered like a lot of other
businesses. So, in terms of how do we make sure that companies stay successful, honestly
I think all of this is really just a huge learning opportunity. So, we might not know
right now because there really aren't that many success stories.
But over the course of years, we should be able to get some really good data on what
we can do to make sure that people become successful, they have exits, they can also
then reinvest--hopefully in some minority businesses--and then we can really start to
have a pure life cycle to creating really great companies.
>>FEMALE #2: Hi. My name is Cynthia and I--.
>>Soledad : OK. Hold it close to your mouth like that. Thank you.
>>FEMALE #2: So, I thought the post screen conversation was at least as interesting as
the film itself. There are a couple of furious blog posts floating around the internet that
were really interesting. I was wondering if you ever considered maybe doing a Google+
Hangout with Arrington and Vic Gundotra and like, Ron Conway, and you're just getting
them all in the same room together 'cause it seemed like they all had different experiences
and they all disagreed with each other.
It would be really interesting to hear all of them interact, rather than--.
>>Soledad : Sounds like you're inviting me to be in a Google+ Hangout. The answer is
yes. I'd love to. And anyone who wants to email Mr. Arrington, who's blocked me, is
welcome to.
[laughter]
I'm kidding. In all seriousness, I am more than happy to be part of that conversation.
And I think you're right. I think what that whole Twitter debate showed me was that there
was anger. And everybody was stuck in their spots. And really, a lot of what everybody
was saying was actually about a lack of representation.
So maybe we could move the conversation for being stuck down here, and move it up here.
I really think if you look through every single person's post--all of it--there was a sense
of, "Well, here's what, here's part of the issue. And here's what could be done." Right?
That's the area of the concentric circles of where we all agree. So, maybe have a conversation
about that. So, yeah. I fully support that. I'd be more than happy to be part of that.
>>Navarrow: Isn't the premise of Google Hangouts that everyone has to show up? I think we'd
have a hard time getting Arrington to show up.
>>Soledad : You never know. You never know. I wouldn't assume that. Maybe.
[mild laughter]
>>FEMALE #3: Except people at Google docs.
>>Navarrow: Right.
>>Soledad : Way in the back? Oh, sorry. Go ahead.
>>Navarrow: Nope. Mic.
>>FEMALE #4: Hi. My name is Nava. I had this question and it's open to any of the panelists.
But historically, black-owned businesses weren't really emerging about maybe in the 90s or
so. And according to the US Census, between 2007, 2006 and 2007, black-owned businesses
increased by about 60 percent.
That's huge. And granted, those black-owned businesses were small. The fact that, culturally
speaking, you had a father who either owned an auto repair shop or a mom who owned her
own business in the health care industries said a lot about how they were passing on
inheritance.
And traditionally, allowing their families to know about why it is important to have
your own business. So, do you think the digital divide has also created an issue between both
the industries and the technologies sector and also, the African American community?
And I just wanna know what your insights are on that.
>>Soledad : That's a really interesting question and I think that that statistic I found very,
very interesting, right? This huge--. Blacks completely outscore on entrepreneurship, way
above everybody else. And so, why do we not see that translate in technology?
It's not like, "Well, you know, it's not really culturally relevant for the African American."
No, that's not true. We far over index in that--in entrepreneurship. And so, I'm not
sure the answer to that. And I do think that that digital divide is part of the answer.
>>Chris: Yeah. And the other part of that stat, 60 percent growth over a five-year period--2002
to 2007--however, in terms of the size of those businesses, far smaller than the average
size. So, we know there's traditionally been a lack of access to capital.
Something that you mentioned, Nava, was we haven't seen the generational businesses that
have helped majority businesses succeed. Something that's really fascinating to us in our work
with Google customers, is we start to see those black entrepreneurs who are older.
Those "sons and daughters of" really taking over and leading those businesses' growth
into the online space. So, that's a promising trend that I think we can really capitalize
on in terms of helping those businesses not only exceed in terms of the number of businesses
out there, but in terms of the wealth that they're bringing back into the community as
well.
>>Navarrow: So, I wanna jump in on that just because this topic in particular is something
I'm really passionate about. So, I believe we have--and I've said it a lot--a perception
problem, right? The challenge we have is that there are a lot of African American businesses
that they don't have the understanding and knowledge of the technology opportunities
that are out there and that their barriers are so low.
You gave a great example. You said a bakery. You said barber shops. None of them know how
technology could help them grow and scale their business. So, I think there's opportunities
there. So when you look at the digital divide, really it's about literacy today more than
it's about access.
The numbers show you that African Americans over index on cellular devices. But if you
go and ask them how many of them know about Square, where they can plug it in with no
merchant account and immediately take credit card purchases, the answer will be slim to
none.
So I think the challenge is, how do we bridge that gap? How do we make that connection that
they understand? I mean, Chris talked about any business having a website for free. I
can guarantee you that that's not made it into the African American community.
And I think programs like Angela's will not only raise the level of entrepreneurship--'cause
yes, we all wanna be Facebook, we all wanna be Google--but there's levels below that that
are incredibly successful and people can support their families and have a good living and
create jobs that we have to communicate.
So I think that's the big challenge.
>>FEMALE #5: Hi. Yolanda Mangelini. So, question probably for Angela, or any of you can also
do this. So, if I think about one of the challenges for a black entrepreneur is having access
to the networks, right? I think I saw someone in the documentary mention that.
At Google, we believe in doing things that scale. And you started with a handful of entrepreneurs.
How do you scale that? I think about--. I'm a graduate of the Stanford Business School
and my best friend there is black. He worked at Merrill Lynch. He went to Stanford.
He worked at McKinsey. We were a year behind Jeff Skoll, who's a founder of eBay. So he
had access to all these networks. He started his own business and it failed. And I think
about someone like that, who had access to the networks. How do you scale what you do?
>>Angela: Yeah, I think--. Chris and I talk about this a lot. But I think one of the key
ways to scaling something like this is really changing the format a little bit so it might
look a little bit different. It might not look like the Accelerator proper, but it might
take on more of--.
I guess the idea that I have in my head is almost like a continuing education course.
And then also something that's accessible online, something that can also possibly be
self-guided. And then, something that also pulls from networks of mentors that are highly
qualified that these individuals can tap into.
So, that's really the bigger idea that I have. Like, how do you scale something like this
that doesn't necessarily need to be something that's brick and mortar? You know what I mean?
>>FEMALE #6: So, often--just a quick observation--which is often there's problems that are out there
that always feel so daunting. How are we gonna fix education in America? How are we gonna
get more people who are not included, in this case, into the economy?
And I always--. I'm Megan. I lead New Business Development here at Google, and we get to
work with engineers when we're starting new things. So, I have a lot of experience with
the beginning in entrepreneurs. I also got to do the acquisitions of Google Earth and
Maps and Picasa and other things.
So, I've worked with very talented entrepreneurs. And one of my observations is on the daunting
problems. Two key things throughout history always are the things that end up solving
them. And they come in two forms.
One is in storytelling, which is somebody figures out how to tell us the story of what's
happening in a way that opens our minds to know about something and often includes not
only the problem, but some of the solutions so we can begin to pile onto it.
And so, Soledad, thank you for "Black in America" and for focusing on things because it raises
our consciousness in a way that is significant. And adding in people who are doing great things,
like Angela, let's us pile on Chris and others. And so, that's the second part of it, which
is whether it's a social, political, or economic invention that's gonna really make actual
change, it always comes from a person or a small group.
It's a Margaret Mead quote. It's always true. I mean, the founding of our own country comes
from these entrepreneurs. We know them: Thomas, Benjamin, Abigail, John. And they were funded
by the French VC's. [laughter] And so, when I do development work, I'm like, "We're the
French. We're the French. We're the French. Where is the talent? Who are we gonna help?
Who are we gonna fund to help in other countries?"
And I think in our own country. So, I just want to acknowledge that this is the only
way out of the problem. The singular only way is to help the entrepreneurs do their
thing. It's not about some kind of aid or whatever. It's about finding the top talent,
as Mitch talks about, and getting behind them and helping them.
And in Silicon Valley, having raised 30 million dollars here for the company that I ran in
Web 1.0, it is totally an apprentice, journeyman, master thing. And we all know that who have
gone through this. And it's all about the network. And I've always felt like, as we
started the BOLD program, we finally broke in to the talent networks of the undergraduate
populations, started pulling them to Google and to Silicon Valley.
We need to do that with people mid-career--break into the talent networks. And in this particular
case, you have figured out a way to break into the talent networks on the entrepreneurial
side. And we in Silicon Valley now have to step up and help you help those guys and then
bring this to all the other cities and help this country as well as the Greek economic
crisis.
'Cause the only way out of this stuff is through entrepreneurships. So, thank you.
>>Angela: That's a great point. Thanks for making it.
[applause]
>>Navarrow: When your questions have 20 great points, [laughter] we just don't know where
to jump in. It's like, great point one, great point two, great point three.
>>MALE #7: I had a, I think its economic issue, follow on question kind of along. When you
see folks who start a lot of the start-ups in Silicon Valley, they tend to be computer
geeks. I think Arrington, I think the tech crunch guy mentioned that.
So, do you have any plans to get that pipeline into your programs so that you don't get,
not so much so entrepreneurs, but people who are maybe specialists from a technology perspective?
>>Angela: Yeah--.
>>MALE #7: It seems to be the profile that works.
>>Angela: Sure. About half of the founders in the program were actually developers. But
what I think is really interesting, on the panel last night, Pius had a really great
point. He mentioned that he thinks the pipeline issue is overplayed a little bit.
Like, yes, STEM education is important and everything, but we all know here in Silicon
Valley and in the technology industry, you can teach yourself how to code. That's one
of the beautiful things about it. And Crissan, he didn't have a computer science degree at
all, but he was coding.
I mean, he built his product. So, when we look at applicants, the program is very product-driven.
So, we look at products. Like, yes, we look at the entrepreneurs and everything, but we
also really look at products. But I think--. I have a fine arts degree. You know what I
mean?
So, I'm not just looking at people who have STEM degrees at all. So, I really just want
good people who are driven to be successful and will do what they need to do. Those people
might be developers. Those people might be entrepreneurs with a development team.
>>Navarrow: Just, so really quickly. I think that's an important point to bring up. Because
one of the things that Arrington said that does ring true, one of the challenges entrepreneurs
have is if you aren't technical, you have to find a technical co-founder.
And that's not a racial thing. That's an entrepreneurial thing. The challenge that makes it uniquely
African American is that there are so few of us who take up those technology fields,
which goes back to the perception problem. So, how can Google fix that? I guarantee you,
if you--and Mitch can probably attest to this through his programs--if you bring a busload
of kids in here one day from Oakland and tell them that in order to work here, they have
to learn how to program.
The next day, the Oakland library will be empty. Because there's a light at the end
of the tunnel. The reason why Angela's program is so groundbreaking is 'cause there's visual
examples of the possibility. So, what we have to do is continually show examples.
And in this room, I've seen black Googlers stand up en masse and they ask questions.
Those are example that people say, "You know what? It's really not that hard." And to my
young woman in the back who gave us 30 good points that I can't even remember them all,
she made the point that once you do that, you've triggered that change.
You've made that exception. That's what we have to figure out to do, which goes back
to Soledad telling this story.
>>Mitch Kapor: So on that point, something that companies in the Valley can do is to
continue to intensify their efforts to recognize that talent comes in many different kinds
of packages. 'Cause it's easy to do pattern matchings as VC and it's easy to do pattern
matching as an employer.
You look for the right degree from the right school and so on. And that's all well and
good, but there are a lot of incredibly qualified people who just look different and they've
had a much longer distance travel. But if you're willing to look, you can see they can
do the job right now.
And so the face of Silicon Valley could be different than it is because there is some
supply coming through the pipeline that is not landing the jobs that they could be landing.
And so, that's a call to action for employers right now.
[applause]
>>Navarrow: That's clappable. Thank you, Mitch.
>>FEMALE #8: Hi. I'm from Women at Google in London and just came for the Diversity
Summit. I think what you've done is just absolutely phenomenal. But I can see how it seems there's
less ladies in the scheme. Was that a particular challenge?
Was it a focus? And going forward, is it something you're gonna particularly look at is how to
get more ladies involved in this program?
>>Angela: So, the program, even though I think we've been dubbed like, the Black Accelerator,
the program is really for underrepresented minorities in technology.
So, that is African Americans, but that's also women and that's also Latinos. One thing
that I think you guys probably weren't able to see is like, yes, I was a woman and Tiffany
was a woman and we were in the house. But Crissan's co-founder was also a woman.
Pius, Becky, she's a woman. So, we did have a good amount of women involved. Could there
have been more? Yes. I'm excited to look at applicants for 2012, so it'll be interesting
to see what the makeup ends up being in the future.
>>FEMALE #8: Right. Thanks.
>>Navarrow: We're gonna take about three more questions. That's puts the pressure on everybody.
>>FEMALE #9: Hi. Thanks for coming. My name is Sabrina Williams and according to the documentary,
I guess I'm an oddity. So, I'm a black female programmer.
[applause]
>>Navarrow: Clappable again, please.
>>FEMALE #9: And actually, I never thought it was that big of a deal until I got here.
[laughter]
But I was actually, as a follow on question to that, did you or Tiffany run into any extra
problems, like being the double-whammy black and female in the course of the program?
>>Angela: For me, I actually felt like people didn't listen to me a lot. And I'm short.
My voice is soft. And I mean, I don't know, but I definitely feel like people didn't listen
to me enough, but luckily I have people like Mitch and Navarrow backing me up a lot throughout
the summer.
So, that's something that I actually didn't expect, especially because I have a pretty
strong personality.
>>MALE #10: I'm gonna steal one of the last questions. Steve Strong, I wanted to ask you,
get back to actually the video and say we saw the journey from the beginning to the
end and I know you only had an hour.
But I want some insight into what were the "aha" moments you really transformed the team
from that first presentation to the end? They showed some snippets, but were there a few
key events that really transformed the team?
>>Angela: Sure. So, part of what you saw was Navarrow's dinner in the first week. That
was really jarring and people were like, "Oh, we gotta do better." So, that was one point.
Then we had a midway point at BlueRun Ventures and people really still weren't up to par.
From then, we didn't really have a hack-a-thon, but we had a design-a-thon, and that was really
to get the visual, the UI part of everyone's products on par. After that, I think Mitch
spent like his whole Saturday, the week before demo day, and really gave us the extra time,
effort, and feedback that was needed to make sure that people were on point because in
reality, we only had like, a day and a half to actually practice in the facility.
So, those were all key "aha" moments. You could definitely tell after each one of those
events that people got better and better after that.
>>MALE #11: I guess I'm the last question.
>>Soledad : I think we're going to do 2. Go ahead.
>>MALE #11: OK. My name is Curtis Pope. I was one of the new start-ups this summer.
I can totally attest to what Angela's talking about. It was a very aggressive schedule and
all the different things were very instrumental in helping us to be successful.
My question is more to Angela. You mentioned the community’s part. Is part of those communities,
is part of that communities part teaching people how to code? Do you think that that's--?
>>Angela: So, the curriculum for that is not set yet. So, I'm not sure. I know that I wanna
have at least four different types of programs that can rotate and they'll probably be about
four to six weeks long. But I'm not sure exactly if it'll be teaching someone how to code.
I mean, I know we'll definitely have to rely on a lot of partners also to help. So, I'm
not sure exactly what that will entail yet.
>>Soledad : Marvin, why don't we give you the last question?
>>MALE #12: Hi. I'm Marvin Avilez. I've been an entrepreneur for about 20 years now. Grew
up in the Bay Area, right here. Macromedia, Oracle, Apple, a variety of other companies
and--.
>>Navarrow: And now you're just showing off.
[laughter]
>>MALE #12: My question to you is, I was once told and I didn't realize it, when I was about
23, that I was a minority in the business. And I was shocked and never thought of it
that way. And so, I ask you now, with the house and saying, "We're gonna look at more
of the minority group, or the female group, or the under-served group," are you attracting
attention that might be a little bit on the negative side because we're labeling it that
way?
Or, are you just another great Incubator like, Y Combinator, or NYU Poly-Tech in New York
City? 'Cause that's how I see it. I see that you're taking--. You're a start-up of start-ups.
And that's what was so exciting to see in the one house, right? Well, that's gonna grow
next year and now it's at Google.
To me, that's how I see it. So, I'm curious. Have you guys confronted that issue or has
that come up at all?
>>Angela: Yeah. I think we're a really great program, first and foremost. And that's my
goal is just to be a really great program. But there is a problem and we don't see women
a lot.
We don't see African Americans and we don't see Latinos a lot. So really, it's a really
great program, but it's also a solution to a problem that some people choose to ignore.
And so that's really all I see it as.
>>Soledad : And I was gonna add one thing, too. We get a similar question for news stories.
"Well, why do the black story? Aren't you really dividing? We're really all Americans
and we all should be under the same--. Why do Latinos? You're separating people out."
And I'll give you the same answer that a woman gave on a panel for our documentary called
"Beyond Bravery: The Women of Ground Zero." And someone said that very thing. "You know,
women were no more brave than the men. Why do you make it seem like the women are special?"
And she said, "Well you know, take a guess at how many dogs of Ground Zero stories were
done." Many. [chuckles] And that women stories also just deserve to be told. That sometimes,
we go out of our way--and not really realize it--we're only telling one story.
That we were selecting only that one story and what we're trying to do is just open it
up and tell more of those stories. So yes, do the German Shepherds of Ground Zero. Do
the Golden Retrievers of Ground Zero. [laughter] I am not making that up. Those are stories
that were done.
[laughter]
And then also do the women of Ground Zero so that you have a more accurate picture of
what the environment looks like. But only then, you're really telling the full story.
To me, it's not meant to be divisive. It is really meant to just paint a more full picture.
>>Navarrow: And just one the Accelerator piece, I think the one thing you think about is anything
that's birthed that's uniquely African American is birthed out of lack of access in that area,
right? And I think the challenge we need to realize is just as those Accelerators exist,
but they haven't been accepting African Americans.
And I'm not gonna speak for them about why that's the case. We just know it's not happening.
So, Angela's program was birthed out of a need. And anytime something's birthed out
of a need that people may not agree with, there's gonna be negatives. But the positives
far outweigh the negatives.
And I think you all guys know here that there's a process in the Valley. And I think what
Angela's program does is indoctrinate a new demographic to that process that feeds the
need that Mitch talked about in diverse and new ideas coming to the ecosystem. So, I think
that's important.
So, we're gonna wrap up. I'm gonna ask you guys three things. First, on behalf of CNN,
please watch the documentary November 13th at 8 PM.
[applause]
>>Soledad : Tell a million of your closest friends.
>>Navarrow: Tell a million of your closest friends and we're at Google, so we know you
have a million closest friends. The hash tag is pound sign black in America, so please--I
know you guys don't do this--but tweet it as well as Google+ it and everything else
to let everybody know.
The second thing is I'm gonna make an ask for Angela. There are a lot of great minority
entrepreneurs and engineers in this room. Please connect with her. She'd love to have
you guys come through the programs and connect with the future classes of the NewMe Accelerator.
And lastly, please give me a hand in giving this panel a round of applause. Thank you
guys.
[applause]