What do Facebook, Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Yahoo and Twitter have in common? They’re all technology companies, of course. In fact, they’re the most successful companies in the Silicon Valley. But what do Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Jerry Yang have in common? Well, they’re either white or Asian? Like it or not, Silicon Valley is being dominated by white and Asian men, for as long as one can remember.
There is no question that Silicon Valley is the epicenter of the tech world. It houses the headquarters of some of the world’s most powerful tech companies. However, there’s a glaring disturbing problem. There’s very little African American or Hispanic participation. As recent as May 2014, Google revealed that while 30% of its workers are female, only 2% of its workers are African American and 3% are Hispanic in the U.S.
Amazingly, Facebook, Twitter and even Apple showed the similar statistics of lacking diversity. Enter “Project CODE2040“, a new pilot program backed by cash-rich Google. Targeting 3 cities – Austin, Chicago and Durham – the non-profit CODE2040, initially founded in 2012, encourages more African Americans and Hispanics into the tech workforce. It will give minority entrepreneurs in each city a one-year stipend and free office space.
Based in San Francisco, the “CODE2040” itself refers to the year the population of minorities in the U.S. is expected to overtake whites. Beside getting the free office space in tech hubs in Chicago, Austin and Durham for one year and US$40,000 (£27,100; RM148,200) in seed funding for their start-ups, entrepreneurs also get a trip to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., as well as training and face time with investors.
Also known as EIR (Entrepreneur in Residence), selected individuals will enjoy the mentioned benefits for 1-year, from April 1, 2015 to April 1, 2016. As of now, applications for the April 2015 class of residents are closed. But you can view how the CODE2040 residency application looks like here. The three successful 2015 CODE2040 EIR are Riana Lynn, Joel Rojo, and Talib Graves-Manns.
So far, Google has thrown US$775,000 (£525,000; RM2.87 million) in grants to CODE2040, on top of US$4 million in similar grants from the Knight Foundation, Marc Andreessen, and Airbnb. Interestingly, Intel has pledged a whopping US$300 million over the next 5-years to improve (or rather fix) diversity in the tech industry.
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