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Arrington, Race, and Silicon Valley (whydoeseverythingsuck.com)
212 points by aaronbrethorst on Oct 28, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 121 comments



Silicon Valley is chum-tactic, so if you really care about the differential access problem for X, regardless of the value of X, make extra special effort to both tell X that Silicon Valley is chum-tactic and to introduce them to the right people.

Chum-tactic: the first filter applied to you, for press or investment or anything, is "Who sent you to me?" Some people think "Silicon Valley is a meritocracy" implies that the first filter would be merit. Ahem. Be meritorious, but make sure being meritorious makes an impression on someone who routinely has dinner with the people whose cooperation you need. (Hint: this happens spontaneously sometimes but that isn't the way to bet.)

P.S. Lots of the world and lots of situations work like this, with wide variations in local etiquette for what counts as an intro and what warrants one. "Who sent you?" is also the first filter for Chicago government contracting and Nagoya job offers.


Outside of closed environments with pre-screening (students in a class, for instance), what systems don't work this way?


Dating is an example which bolsters the author's point. If someone says he "just isn't attracted to black people," is that racist? It may be true that he isn't attracted. But, I've found that after having good friends of a particular race (and hence seeing that they're more like me than not), I become more attracted to people of that race.


Professional athletics? It seems to be as close to a pure meritocracy as I can think of.


See Moneyball. Traditionally, people can't measure merit. They measure things which they think are proxies, but some popular proxies are hilariously inaccurate. Like, "Lines of code is a proxy for programming skill" hilariously inaccurate.


The thing is, in a competitive environment, people end up mismeasuring merit in totally different ways and the ones who end up closest to the mark end up winning. The point of Moneyball is that if you win at moneyball, you can win at baseball, too.

Though baseball (and other American sports) aren't generally a good example. With only 20-30 world class teams, it's easy to get contaminated by groupthink. Soccer is a better example. It's easy for all 32 NFL teams to have the exact same ideas about how to measure playing ability. It's hard for thousands of clubs in hundreds of countries to all have the same ideas. Even if English or American teams focus too heavily on size and strength, a Spanish team might take a chance on an undersized kid with a lot of speed and technical ability.


There's no question that professional sports is a meritocracy. Players like LeBron James, Albert Pujols, and Peyton Manning make the most money because they deserve to make the most money. They merit their contracts.

Moneyball deals with inefficiencies in antiquated markets, and fits well into Lewis's oeuvre (see Big Short, Liar's Poker for examples of how to take advantage of credit default swaps or the bond market). It has much less to do with "merit," as one can observe a player's true merit over a sufficient sample in baseball. If the guy's a bum, he'll live in Single A for the rest of his career.

tl;dr: baseball statistics are much better at quantifying a player's skills. See "WAR" and the recent Red Sox and Yankees teams for examples.


David Beckham isn't by any stretch the world's greatest footballer; his rise was directly alongside Ryan Giggs in the same team, and a comparison of their stats isn't favourable to Mr. Beckham. Yet his fame is such that teams will hire him, knowing they'll turn a profit on sales of his shirts.

Anna Kournikova was never a very successful tennis player but her earnings never reflected that.

Ferrari have a good F1 team, sure, but not necessarily the best; pre-Schumacher, their win rate was dwarfed by both Williams and McLaren. Yet their brand is strong enough that they uniquely can sell old cars to enthusiasts and run them at a profit, were able to get higher payments from the governing body and can license a new circuit (Yas Marina) to include a Ferrari-themed amusement park. All of which gives them a substantially higher baseline income from which to develop their cars.

Professional sports is as much about building and exploiting a brand as anything else in life.


I think sports is 'mostly' a meritocracy. You don't just walk into the first team of any of the top European leagues. And Beckham fully deserved his place in all the teams he's played in so far - just ask Capello. Capello initially refused to play Beckham (for whatever reason) in 2007, but would now acknowledge Beckham's role in helping Madrid win La Liga in the same year. I agree teams factored shirt sales when bidding for Beckham, but he couldn't have built his brand without being a top player.

Depending on how you define success, Kournikova was successful. You can't qualify routinely for grand slam tournaments unless you're a top tennis player - you get there purely on merit.

F1 is a different matter entirely. For all the love I have for it, it's hardly a pure sport. But even then, the top drivers do win the top drives. I remember telling my Spanish friend that Alonso was going to win the championship some day, after seeing him routinely out-qualify and out-race his teammate, and drivers in better cars.


You're confusing merit with scarce resources in high demand.


A nice tulip is a bargain at any price.


I haven't seen the movie, but my understanding was that someone used some math skills to better acquire skilled players, thus making professional athletics even more of a meritocracy than it was.

If I had to put a bunch of rich people on a chart with three axises of merit, luck, and inheritance, I still think professional athletes lie the closest to the pure merit line.


Definitely professional athletics seems to be an exception, since it has a clearly defined metric for merit, and big enough rewards to picking the winners to justify global search.

I'd assume at some level finance is like this; the algorithmic trading parts, not the "we went to Yale together and you have compromising pictures of me with that nun, so I'll give you this business" parts.


Actually finance is a very socially oriented business. Not to the extent that you use in your example, but frankly if the M.D. doesn't like the person they spend 60 to 100 hours/week with that person will be out of a job. Same thing goes on the client side; if they don't like you, you won't get their business.


Right, but in the long run, a really obnoxious guy who is right about the market more than everyone else could probably end up running money, using other people as buffers. A small hedge fund really doesn't have a lot of overhead, so one obnoxious genius could work with 2-3 other people.

There are lots of roles in finance where connections and likability are probably primary (once you pass a certain level of competence), though.


The main shift in Moneyball wasn't the math per se (its there, but wasn't really the secret sauce), much of it was a shift in which metrics were actually important. Billy Beane's ranking of players was still merit based, they just measured by a different ruler.


Nitpick: isn't inheritance a type of luck?


The military (kind of).


Wow.

That's a brilliant way to put it.


Why aren't there many over-weight entrepreneurs in the Vally? I mean just look at how many over weight americans in US and they are under-presented in tech. I'm pissed. I'm going to start a OverWeightMe incubator that helps fat people. And any news media or investor who is not paying attention is a a weight-ist. You all should all write about me and fund me because i'm fat and under-presented so I deserve it.

Sarcasm aside, let me tell you why there are so few black tech entrepreneurs. Fact 1: Most successful tech founders in the Valley are themselves technical. Fact 2: Go to your favorite college, how many black people there studying math or computer science ? how many white or asians?

If there are very small percentage of black studying math and computer science, of course, the number of the black tech entrepreneurs would be small.

To all the black people out there, please don't turn venture capitalism into philanthropy. You will destroy Silicon Vally.

The whole sport (e.g basketball) industry is dominated by black people. Do you see asian people crying around shouting 'racism'? If you are really good (like in sports), you gain success. If you are not good, you're not (like making tech companies). It's simple.


Your comment would be more helpful if it didn't misrepresent the blog post. Hank is nowhere saying that "any news media or investor who is not paying attention is racist". He's also not saying that he and others in NewMe deserve anything just because they're black and under-represented. Finally, it's pretty ridiculous to imply that this guy, Hank Williams - and ALL black people out there - are trying to turn venture capitalism into philanthropy. The other response says your comment wasn't offensive enough to merit a temp account. I think you did the right thing; personally, I would be embarrassed and ashamed to make such degrading remarks.

That aside - I believe the premise of Hank's post is that it's not a meritocracy in Silicon Valley. It's hard to know for sure whether this is true because there's no way to test this hypothesis. But I think it's safe to assume that VC's are still human, and like every other human, they all have biases, including racial biases. There's nothing wrong with that, in my opinion. However, if they're not aware of that bias - perhaps, mentally, they reject that they have any racial bias because they think that will make them a bad person - then they won't take any conscious steps to correct it. The result would be that fewer black entrepreneurs get funded.

You should realize that being black in America is not like being fat. For most of our country's history, black people have been treated as less than human. It wasn't even until fairly recently in our country's history that blacks gained the legal right, throughout the country, to use the same restrooms and water fountains. Can you imagine that? If you think that that kind of institutionalized racism has completely evaporated, you are wrong.

I think it would benefit you to read the book "Black Like Me" by John Howard Griffin. It will probably change your apparent opinion that black people are a bunch of whiners demanding charity.


I agree that there's no perfect meritocracy in Silicon Valley or anywhere since we're all human and human has bias. And I agree that black history has caused many disadvantages to the success of black Americans. But I don't buy that the reason that there are few black entrepreneurs because of racism or discrimination in the Valley. Yes, there might be some discrimination, but they are not the root or dominant causes.

Like you said, black people have been mistreated for hundreds of years. So even today, not many black students go to college (comparatively), and when they are in college, not many of them choose engineering(cultural?). The reason why there are few black tech entrepreneurs is because there is a small selection pool to begin with.

I think it's more productive to try to solve these root causes than to blame Valley meritocracy which i think is working ok.


These comments are not offensive enough for you to wuss out and use a temp account.

When it comes to sports, it's easy to claim they are a meritocracy because the players don't always look like the coaches or GMs. If the players and coaches always looked the same, people might question it.

People are generally blind to their biases, and some biases are wrong. For example you mentioned most founders being technical, but some VCs have promoted picking startups run by designers.

Let's not pretend venture capital is a completely neutral meritocracy. There are plenty of VCs who speak about the herd mentality within their profession and how many social factors like "who's already invested" have an effect on where money goes.

I thought venture capital would be full of strictly analytical decisions, but the more you listen to VCs talk about themselves the more you realize that they use many social factors to try to mitigate their perceived risk. It's possible things could be overlooked. It's not just complaining. How else could a person bring attention to something without talking about it? Edit: I don't see a difference between this argument and the belief that most of the startup talent is in Silicon Valley. Convincing and generally accepted, but not necessarily true.

edit: Don't just vote me down because you disagree. Please respond.


Here is an interesting article about a white american athlete who complained about bias agains white americans in the NBA.

see:

http://www.thegrio.com/opinion/should-the-nba-assist-white-p...

I see parallels, it's a cultural thing, generally speaking in the African American community tech startups are not valued like playing basketball/football or being singer/rapper/actor.

The startups that are popular in the African American community is the record label.

I also thought this was interesting as well: http://deadspin.com/kyle-mcalarney/


This is not just black people. Entertainment is almost always valued highly over technology even in the general American population.

I think Marc Andreesen (not exactly sure if it was him) wrote about how companies that provide entertainment (YouTube, Twitter etc) end up being worth much more than others.


No it is not so simple. I do not think most people are rascist. That is the wrong term. But there is a problem. The answer is what you get when you turn your "Fact 2" to a question. Let me explain.

I have wondered about this and think the core problem lies with two cognitive short cuts. The availability heuristic and the belief that other groups (predicated on culture) are much less varied in individuals than yours (out-group homogeneity bias). And everyone suffers from it. Black, white and every shade between. That is, even blacks will assign the same stereotype backed attempt at a conditional distribution to various outcomes and the only difference is blacks will not lump it into the its just cause they is black bucket. But even that alone is damaging to the cultural self image.

The effects are subtle. Ignoring socio-economic crippling effects, there is a very strong hostile affect against book learning in black culture. And I do not mean the standard antigeek treatment. I inhabited the intersection and can tell you there is a striking difference in the type of hostility, the other one actually creates feelings of real guilt and self questioning. And the underlying cause is not due to a hatred of knowledge but a chronic unacknowledged buried belief of lesser intelligence due to inferences made against the cultural Zeitgeist peppered with lingering traces of an oppressed past and a lack of many examples to counteract the claim.

This results in a defeatist attitude. See, if you try to study you nudge the insecurities of those around you which leads to a "so you think you are better than the rest of us" effect. There is a pressure to not try too hard and an almost pride in ignorance and keeping it real. And if you do press on you will still have this imposter effect suggesting that you struggle against your genes. I succumbed to this pressure in my school years. The cycle maintains a fixed point for the continued apathy towards knowledge in black culture, resulting in a dearth of intellectual achievement. So we think the only way forward is in sports or entertainment. This is the inward problem, why so little of us study math and computer science.

==========

Personally, I have not met with much overt racism in any culturally diverse setting. Outside diverse settings though and the rapid degradation of the quality of broad-mindedness can be quite cumbersome.

I am much more subjected to the subtle effects of the availability heuristic. I am not offended but sometimes disheartened. Where nice people meaning no offence will cross over to the other sidewalk and back, especially at night (useful when I wish to be left in peace). Or people feel the need to dumb things down and are surprised I am interested in certain subjects cause you know, you people typically don't - well no offence. Or that I am searched more often than my nonblack friends (0 vs twice a year or so) and on days when I say absolutely nothing have to end up being hauled to the station while they look up that my record is as spotless as a cleanroom.

This is the real problem. Well meaning people will say things meaning no offence and which only the most righteously uptight, persecution complex suffering person would take as such. Benign and small indvdually but in aggregate they give away beliefs that end up being real roadblocks when attempting to initiate an interaction. The tragedy is they do it without even being aware that they are doing it. When pointed out the more enlightened will mention some nonsense about statistics and time savings. But this is useless to tell the individual and such beliefs are self perpetuating or confounded by low iodine and magnesium diets - poisoning the well of general knowledge with effects leading to what i mention in my third block of text.

Ah well, I seem to have lost the point of what I was trying to say. but basically the number of dimensions underlying the manifold of this problem is far more vast than the simplistic picture you have painted using only one color.


The theory is, if someone acts white, they are going to flee the neighbourhood the minute they finish school, so you shouldn't waste any energy making friends with them.

Interestingly, the prejudice against "acting white" is much lower in black schools, and very high in schools with 20% blacks.

Also, Hispanics are much worse off - African Americans are respected for a GPA of 3.5, but start losing friends if they get anything more. Hispanics seem to lose friends once their GPA goes over 2.5.

see http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/fryer/files/fryer_t...


Some of what you say makes much sense. I went to a school with about 20% blacks. Although I have heard from others in more homogenous schools that its not much better. You are also right it is not limited to blacks but I could not think of a term that succinctly captured a minority but from a less affluent demographic and more likely to be of a culture that has fractured from its roots.

But part of what you say is a symptom of the chronic heuristic I spoke of. To perpetuate ignorance just because those who do not appreciate it will leave? makes no sense. Why, leaving is almost part of the job description of a sports or entertainment job and they don't get ostracized. Plus part of the problem is a lack of availability of models. The more that achieve the more it becomes okay to try an intellectual avenue as a way out and the less and less notable it becomes to be interested in say math. Plus as a matter of numbers some of them will come back to try and better things, the spaces in entertainment are much more limited than in technology.

Finally, "acting white" exactly exemplifies what I mean. Just because I am not fluent in ebonics, like music with guitars in it, like to read scifi by Egan and books on information theory does not mean I am acting white. Nor does my like of chicken, basketball, funk, hiphop and bboying mean I am acting black. It is a cultural and personal lifestyle choice not predicated on color in deciding what I wish to identify with.


For my Fact2, I simply point out there are very fewer black engineering students and as a result, fewer tech founders. I agree with you that it's a cultural problem. There is a research showing that recent African immigrants perform better than those whose have been in US for hundreds of years. So the problems are not inherent but cultural. My point is that Silicon Valley is not to blame for not having many black founders. The problem starts from family,part of the culture they have inherited and as a result, education and career they end up choosing.

"Where nice people meaning no offense will cross over to the other sidewalk and back, especially at night". I agree that this does happen. I'm guilty of that. But only when I see a group of black teenagers at night, and I might cross over and back without even thinking much about it. I don't know how to solve this problem. One of my black friend who went to Havard Law told me he is guilty of the same irrational fear when he is walking at night.


As I noted skin color does not exempt you from such behaviour. I don't think it classes as racism. More subconscious biases we all fall prey to. But it is these observable actions that hint at the hidden biases that stack the decks to make it harder.

Not until it is common knowledge that ignanance is not a symptom of race will the problem be solved.


"...The whole sport (e.g basketball) industry is dominated by black people. Do you see asian people crying around shouting 'racism'?"

No.

But I do see them start fights with black people when they get beat by them. You should see it ... it's hilarious ->

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmG9G-ZwDDc

I think the PHYSICAL fighting you see on the part of the Chinese teams is a manifestation of the same frustration that blacks show towards their own under representation in tech fields.

Just my take.


Have you never seen any sports?

It's men (or women) competing against one another. I suppose you think its also a manifestation of some deep frustration when two white hockey players fight on the ice? Or when two black players fight in the NBA? Or when a black guy fights a white guy, etc. etc.


Not only have I seen them ...

I've played them ... NCAA Div 1 Track and Basketball.

Anyone fighting in Track and Basketball is fighting because they are getting beat. And because they are generally a whiny Beeyotch. And that was true even back in my day, (early 90's).

Never played other sports, (hockey), so I can't say. But if you are fighting in Track or Basketball ... I can guarantee it is because you are a beeyotch. Now you couple this fact with the fact that the CBA gets into fights with nearly every visitor that beats them...and you have to think there are some frustrated players over there. Google China vs. Brazil or China vs US or China vs Australia or China vs anyone really.

I question whether you have played sport at a sufficiently high level if you believe that fighting is just a part of it. Or if you have ... your coaches failed miserably in getting the point of athletics across to you.


Well the only athletics I've ever trained and competed in is muay thai and brazilian jiu jitsu, so I'm afraid the point about fighting eludes me.

I think your statements are pretty bigoted and assuming. I took a look at some of your examples:

"Yesterday, a friendly game between men's national basketball teams from China and Brazil turned into a melee when Zhang Qingpeng was fouled hard by a Brazilian player less than a minute into the game."

"You can see the tiny Aussie guy in red swipe at the ball not once, but twice at 0:36-0:37. The ball is being held up high by the Chinese player (rightfully so), and the short Aussie looks like he's swiping (or could be throwing punches - hard to tell) high near the Chinese player's face, which is not going to be taken so kindly by the Chinese rebounder.

At that point, the Chinese rebounder is intimidating the short Aussie, then the Aussie teammates runs in (from the bottom right of the screen) and push the Chinese rebounder. That's when the Chinese bench clears and the brawl breaks loose."

I really don't see how you come to any conclusion that fighting = racial frustration. A cuban tae kwon do competitor lost his temper, kicked a ref and got banned from the Olympics. Ron Artest jumped into the stands. Team Canada once had a bench brawl with the Soviets in hockey.

Race really has nothing to do with anything in these instances.


OK. I'll weigh-in on this. I identify as an African American, developer, and aspiring entrepreneur. I'll post here the message that I give to my kids and will continue to hammer as long as they will listen. IT DOESN'T MATTER if it's a meritocracy or not. Go succeed. If there was an envelope that had a provable answer as to whether things are harder/easier for me to succeed with a new venture...I'd rip it up without opening it. What I love about Silicon Valley is the number of people who don't care to be told by other people what's possible.


People, for the most part, want to work with people that are “like them” or that fit a pattern that appeals to them.

I see this argument made a lot. But this argument has a huge hole in it - Chinese and Indians are also not "like them". And yet, Chinese/Indians are not underrepresented. If Hank William's theory were correct, they should be.

Any theory concerning the underrepresentation of blacks which does not distinguish between blacks and Indians is flawed.


He said or fit into a pattern, not and.

I once heard an older, well-known investor and entrepreneur in the Boston area tell a room full of students that a startup he's most likely to invest in is one whose founding team includes an IIT graduate. Earlier this month, Foundry Group VC Seth Levine said he felt "surprised" being pitched by a group of guys in their late 40s and 50s (http://www.sethlevine.com/wp/2011/10/is-there-age-bias-in-vc...). Hank described the Sequoia VC saying that they're biased toward younger people.

These types of biases come from people who have established patterns of personality traits and other characteristics of what makes for a successful startup and who they like to deal with. I would further posit that they have established norms for dealing with such people (including building networks which support such connections) which makes it easier for both parties to move the relationship forward.

If, however, a startup founder doesn't fit the molds of age, ethnicity, education, background, or whatever, his or her chances of being taken seriously and/or accomplishing something together are much less.


My guess is that it's much more likely that because picking winning founders is so difficult (and so little real data is available) that they're likely to acquire all sorts of superstitions about what a good founder is supposed to look like.

People who play the slot machines or invest in the stock market are notoriously superstitious. I don't think VCs are much different.

I don't think VCs accurately keep track of which founders they reject and end up successful anyway, and adjust their metrics based on that data. I think they have hunches and some founders become successful and then they filter more aggressively on those character traits and confirmation bias takes care of the rest.


"Sequoia VC saying that they're biased toward younger people"

The bias could be that a person who is in their 40's and 50's could be considered "stale" in the same way that a house that sits on the market is if it hasn't sold.

There is a belief somehow that something just out there is potentially something to snap up. It's easier to believe that something great is possible with the 20 year old since they have no track record of not doing anything great yet. They feel they know the older person isn't a hot shot but they don't know for sure that the younger person isn't a hot shot. (Of course this doesn't apply to older entrepreneurs who have a success or even a (high profile) failure in their past.)


Chinese and Indians are also not "like them"

Yes, they often are. One of the biggest names in the VC world is Vinod Khosla. Kleiner Perkins has a whole team dedicated to China. Accel has multiple Chinese and Indians on their US team (and dedicated China and India teams).

Every major SV VC firm looks like this. White (US), White (European), White (Israeli), Indian, and Chinese.

The "them" isn't just Caucasians, but it includes Chinese and Indians.


So do you think I (a non-Indian) would be at a disadvantage applying to Khosla's outfit [1]? If Khosla looks for people "like him", that should be the case.

Similarly, would an Indian founder be at a disadvantage applying to Fred Wilson? Somehow, I suspect any disadvantage would be minor, if it existed at all.

In any case, your theory of who "them" is now drawn quite broadly. It's not so much people looking for others "like them", it's more like looking for people from within an arbitrary subset that includes widely disparate and dissimilar groups (White and Asian Americans, Chinese, Indians, Israelis, Europeans).

[1] Ignore for the sake of argument that I'm the only non-Indian in my company.


You are narrowly reducing the "like him" assessment to race alone. It's culture + race that makes the determination. An Indian person has an easier time demonstrating that s/he is part of the mainstream culture. In my experience, educated immigrants, or children thereof, are often received as a blank slate and accordingly it's easy to see them as "one of us."

Most Americans, however, already have a conception of who Blacks and Hispanics "are" and it's not quite positive. They have a deficit initial position, where Indians and Chinese have a more-or-less neutral position. Moderately educated, well dressed Whites are generally neutral or positive. This may be in part due to the general American dislike of poor people -- immigrants who come to this country are usually educated and well off compared to the population of their country of origin, so the American over here only ever sees educated people from that place. However, that same American sees Black and Hispanic people all across the social spectrum, and can't help but have his opinion of that group lowered.

In my experience, the white guy who graduated from state college starts off -- in the mind of the person assessing him -- as well or better than the brown guy who went to a top tier school.

You're welcome to disagree, I'm sure you will object to some degree. This is only what I've observed.


"already have a conception of who Blacks and Hispanics "are" and it's not quite positive. They have a deficit initial position"

I agree. In a sense it's like a negative brand association. I would add that we could also discuss the positive association of blacks with sports or entertainment vs. some other minorities or even whites.

But Jewish and sports? No.

Jewish and Medicine? Yes.


His point is made, though, and it's a good one. This is definitely not simple "racism" as a substantial fraction of Indians are darker than the average African American or Hispanic.


You're starting from a false premise: racism (in the U.S.) depends only on skin colour.

The terms "white" and "black" when applied to race are not objective measures of skin-pigmentation. They're proxies for other traits. They are used differently in different cultures. For instance "black" in the U.S. may not be "black" in Brazil.

For example a light-skinned European from Spain would be considered white in the U.S. A person with the same appearance, but from Mexico would be considered Hispanic.

In my part of Canada, we generally don't refer to people as Hispanic. They'd just be white or maybe brown. Unless maybe they're poor and don't speak English or French.


He is saying that the tech clique is whites and asians. If you're not Indian but you're white (Chinese, Jewish, etc.) this does not put you at a disadvantage. If you're non-white and non-asian all things being equal you would be at a disadvantage.

This is not a very strong claim. It's been shown repeatedly with resumes and in loan applications that a black name/photo/applicant is less likely to move forward than a white photo/applicant with identical qualifications. It shouldn't be shocking that this exists in VC financing.


So here is the fundamental question: how did Indians/Chinese break into the "tech clique" and why can't Blacks do the same thing?


Extensive support from their own governments, for one. India and China are very serious about trying to export their own tech workers, and have put their education infrastructure where their mouths are. American-born Indians and Chinese have no doubt benefited from the halo of highly-skilled imported labor.

On the other hand, there isn't a "Black IIT" to bootstrap the tech reputation of blacks.


There certainly is a "Black IIT" to bootstrap the tech reputation of blacks. It's called "MIT". Most Black applicants who are as qualified as a typical IIT student will get in.

Most Black Americans also tend to have a higher quality primary education than the typical Indian student - their teachers tend to show up for work and their schools tend to have toilets with > 2 nines of uptime.

As for "very serious about trying to export their own tech workers", their efforts have made it considerably easier for Indian/Chinese workers to get an H1B. I guess you are right - Black Americans would probably have a hard time getting an H1B.


You only covered the "like them" aspect, what about the "fit a pattern that appeals to them" part?

Chinese and Indians fall into "model minority" stereotypes, which have their own set of evils (you are X so you must be good at Y is it's own kind of dehumanization). So someone making a gut call might have underlying prejudices for Asians and against blacks.

In other words, when is the last time a white person has crossed the street to avoid a Chinese/Indian person walking towards them. Ask a black guy when the last time that happened.

I think there are also many cultural differences at play, as well as people's perceptions of those cultural differences.

Startups take their own kind of crazy, and it really helps to be surrounded by people that tell you its ok to be crazy or are at least as crazy as you. And if you are going to be around crazy people, you will probably want to know that they are the same kind of cazy :) Being from different cultures (or assuming you are) will make it harder to sense this.


In that case, why do Indians/Chinese "fit a pattern that appeals to them" and Blacks do not?

I focused on "like them" because that's a lower entropy theory than "fit a pattern" - it's a claim that VC's thought process is x -> cultural_distance(self, x).

"Fit a pattern" is basically just an assertion that VC's have a table of values in their mind, { "asian" : +1, "white" : 0, "black" : -1 } without explaining either where it came from or how we even know it exists. It's certainly very difficult to disprove, but only because it tells us very little.

Ask a black guy when the last time that happened.

Well, I'm a white guy, and the last time it happened to me was Tues. This happens to me fairly frequently when I'm in the US.


Because the perceptions of African-Americans are still conditioned by the economic devastation inflicted by 242 years of slavery, followed by an additional 103 of legal disenfranchisement and discrimination, followed by only 57 years a criminal justice and militarized police force that continues to inflict disproportionate harm on (yes, even innocent) African-American men living in the areas where until 57 years ago were the only place they could safely live.

History: without it, life is confusing.

On the other hand, other non-European minorities were excluded from the US all together, leaving less time for stereotypes to calcify. The IT industry itself has a strong presence in India and China, so cross-pollination is logical. It has not had a similar expansion into Africa, or we might see similar growth of African entrepreneurs.


A bit pedantic, but there are a few African‡ startups wich have garnered attention from the Valley --most form South Africa though (Fundamo, Thawte, etc. A). Google has opened a tech incubator too. [http://www.google.co.za/intl/en/umbono/index.html]

‡Maybe you mean black Africans, but blacks are not the only Africans -there are south Asians, whites, Chinese, Arab, etc.


EDIT, TL;DR: If you're successful at something other than sports or entertainment you're not "acting black" because blacks are losers by definition (or so the stereotype says).

> In that case, why do Indians/Chinese "fit a pattern that appeals to them" and Blacks do not?

Because the stereotype of "acting black" is so pervasive and negative.

The black hipster who knows Python and doesn't wear a dew-rag probably needn't worry. Essentially he may be black but he doesn't "act black".

Also, if he's one guy in the startup that's ok -- it fits the pattern. If the whole startup is black, maybe you wonder if they're ghetto. Doesn't fit the pattern because you haven't seen it before.

The bro who shows up with a noticeable accent and stereotypical behaviours is at a disadvantage.

Successful blacks become invisible because they don't "act black" because the old stereotype is that you can't be really black and successful (except in sports, or entertainment).

Someone once said to me: "So these guys were real niggers, you know, not like you -- I mean trash."

On the one hand, I was offended. On the other hand, I knew what he meant.


"...how we even know it exists."

This is not a subject where we have to rely on speculation or personal experience. We know widespread racial bias exists because of solid scientific evidence accumulated over years of study. An example and some history: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090617142120.ht... . There is no reason to assume VCs are immune.


You know what immigrant population, statistically, is even more successful than the stereotypical "model minority" Chinese and Indians? Immigrants from actual Africa.


Yes and they often try to distance themselves from African Americans. But what are the actual numbers of African Immigrants in the US compared to Asian/Indian? Even second and third generation. There are larger numbers in Europe I'm sure.

Edit: I'll answer my own question, in 2008 alone African immigrants only accounted for 3% Asian immigrants (which includes India) accounted for 53%. I'm sure that's not a recent trend.


How many of them are white African immigrants (i.e. from RSA, Rhodesia, etc.), or are from Arab North Africa (Egypt), though?


why the downvotes? This seems a reaonable question to ask.

In a more general form, it would be nice to hsve some reference to the statistics on this since it's very interesting.


Nil.


roelof botha, elon musk....not nil.


Exactly, it's an issue of prejudice more than racism- I would bet that a white american with a thick southern accent would probably face more of an uphill battle than any of the above.


"In other words, when is the last time a white person has crossed the street to avoid a Chinese/Indian person walking towards them. Ask a black guy when the last time that happened." What does this have to do with the model minority point? Also I'd say that asians and indians are the majority in tech, at least in my experience. My husband is a Mechanical Engineer from Cal and the vast majority of his classmates were Asian and Indian, very few whites and people of other ethnicity.


Americans didn't enslave Indians for centuries, have a civil war that created deep political fractions till this day, made it illegal for Blacks to read or drink from Whites-only water fountains, and then launch a series of legal structures that prevented Blacks from being treated as human beings.

In actuality, a landmark Supreme Court case was of an Indian man who wanted to own US property but couldn't and his defense was that he was related to Aryans and therefore could be considered White.

Black isn't so much a color, it's both an individual and collective experience, and the experiences of Blacks in America in relations to Whites is what makes race-relations and social, political, economic progress unique to Blacks as opposed to other ethnic groups who have faced discrimination and even oppression but not to the degree of Blacks.

The closest comparison I would make to Blacks and Indians is of the higher Indian castes and the Dalits (Untouchables). So, yes, Black and Indians can be distinguished from one another and at the same time learn from one another.


  > Black isn't so much a color, it's both an individual and collective experience, 
  > and the experiences of Blacks in America in relations to Whites is what makes 
  > race-relations and social, political, economic progress unique to Blacks as 
  > opposed to other ethnic groups who have faced discrimination and even 
  > oppression but not to the degree of Blacks.
Typing this on a reservation, I would like to dispute your "unique" view. I feel compelled to mention Native Americans didn't exactly have it easy in america (e.g. forced marches, genocide, smallpox blankets, re-education, suppression of language and religion, etc). The death toll among the tribes is pretty high.

[I know the original Indian referred too, I was disputing the "unique" part]


I don't think this is a game of who was oppressed more/worse. The plane and simple fact is that no ethic group endured 400 years of hardcore slavery in the US other than African-Americans. Slavery which was also followed by hardcore and legal discrimination.


You need to read up on the history of other ethnic groups in the USA. Look up the word genocide in American History. Native Americans have suffered through hundreds of years of genocide (by action or neglect) and laws meant to remove all culture and rights. Heck, lookup Pres. Lincoln's record with the tribes (or maybe for more fun the dude on the $20 bill). Some of these laws and programs lasted into the 1960's.

Like I said, I was rather unhappy with the "unique" comment. I would bet there are far fewer tribal members in Silicon Valley startups compared to other ethnic groups.


@protomyth I worked with the Dept. of Indian Affairs so I really don't need a lecture or directions on what to look up from you. The situation of Native Americans is heartbreaking. It was most certainly genocide and disgusting. Again, it is not about who had it worse it is just that there are distinct differences. The number of Native Americans in the valley is inherently going to be smaller because of the genocide that took place and the fact that unlike African slaves they didn't have anywhere to go to get more once they worked them to death. But native americans were not enslaved in the same way that Africans were--if that was the case there would be no reservations and no trail of tears.


"I really don't need a lecture or directions on what to look up from you"

Then you shouldn't use the word "unique" in a context of "had it worse" then other groups.

"Dept. of Indian Affairs"

Are you out of Canada or at one of the states? The Federal level is called "Bureau of Indian Affairs".


I never used the word unique. Also re: bureau v. Dept-- Im not ashamed to admit I can't spell to save my life so I used dept instead of bureau because I was on my way out of the office and was too rushed to google when my spelling was so far off the browser's spell check didn't even know what I was trying to spell. It actually has two official names, I forget the other but it may very well be dept, or office. at least it did 2004-06 when I was working with them.


my mistake, my original response was to the person saying "unique" and I got confused on who was what.

If you apply for a computer security job, make sure to not list "Dept of Interior" in the context of tribes. They had some serious data loss issues (as in whole Dept of Interior (parent org of BIA) being taken off the internet. I still want to talk to the damn judge since he removed the tribal college access to the internet at the same time (including those schools not getting their internet from the BIA). The bricks just keep on being stacked.


Chinese were effectively imported as a mass of slave labor, and American Indians were subjected to slavery and genocide. (The European colonies in America joined the African slave trade because the supply of American Indian slaves was being exhausted, as a matter of fact.)


I think it is pretty clear from the context of his comment that Indian refers to people from India.


I think we are arguing the "unique" part and are aware of what group he was referring too.


Ah, since OP's example groups were Chinese and Indian, and your examples were Chinese and (American) Indian, was pretty easy to get confused! :)


Are you seriously saying that Native Americans were the go-to slaves? Have you heard of a little country called Brazil? Do you know about the trans-Atlantic slave trade? It doesn't seem you do.


If you actually read my comment, you would know that it said. And it said none of that. Hint: the part that's in parentheses is part of my comment too.

Let me flesh it out for you. I said, "The European colonies in America joined the African slave trade because the supply of American Indian slaves was being exhausted, as a matter of fact." Which means I'm not only aware of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, but I even outlined the specific reason why slavery of American Indians wasn't sustainable and why the North American colonies had to engage in the trans-Atlantic slave trade to begin with. The fact is, west Africa had more slaves to sell.

Speaking of Brazil, if you start at the end of the second paragraph of Wikipedia's article about slavery in Brazil, it says the exact same thing happened in Brazil:

    Starting around 1550, the Portuguese began to trade   
    enslaved Africans due to two main reasons:

    * The unenculturated indigenous peoples deteriorated 
      rapidly, and became increasingly wary of the 
      Portuguese, thus, obtaining new indigenous slaves was 
      becoming harder and harder.
I try to play nice on Hacker News, but when people don't even read and comprehend what I write, and then accuse me of saying the exact opposite of what I said, I get a little annoyed. Part of common courtesy is to understand and respond honestly to others, and frankly, you've failed to do that.


I'm Chinese. There is way more to me than just being Chinese, and there is way more to the white people I meet than just them being white. I can usually take it for granted that they're like me, and it's obviously not for the race; I can usually take it for granted in the Valley that the other people I meet are college-educated. In general, I do not make this assumption for black people; hence, black people are not like me.


Even when you find them in the Valley? If so, why?

(Note: I am from New York, so I actually don't know the answer)


I've internalized bad stereotypes of black people, especially since my Asian parents are racist and sexist as hell, right down to pulling out the gene card. And having grown up in the Valley, the vast majority of well-educated and ambitious people I know are white, East Asian, or Indian. I've met only two black college graduates in my twenty-odd years of existence here, so I don't have a lot of examples to make my mental image of a go-getting entrepreneur more inclusive.


There's a video of tech discussion at Stanford with Vivek Wadhwa recalling how hard it was for the first set of Indian entrepreneurs to raise money in the Valley. This was back in the 80's, I think, when you didn't have as many (or any) Indian CEOs, VCs, members of boards etc. The problem was that VCs had no history of funding companies run by Indian CEOs, and there was a reluctance to be the first to conduct an experiment.


I skimmed through the comments and was surprised to not see anything about Project Implicit being done at Harvard. This is a research project that is being done using actual, real science. We don't need to armchair speculate about this stuff; we have science for a reason.

The researchers have found that our minds make subconscious judgements of people base on their appearance. No shock here, of course. It turns out that they can measure the effects of this with simple experiments, and can thus measure how a person subconsciously response to images of people from all different races. It is absolutely fascinating, rigorously scientific work, and if you are at all interested in race you should read about it:

https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/research/

Here is a mainstream article about the project:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27067-2005Jan...


If you're going to raise science on a pedestal, you should write a comment other than "Oh it's science, we should trust whatever those scientists are doing." (C.f. the Milgram experiment.) We don't need to mindlessly praise research; we have peer review for a reason.

This seems to be the original Implicit Association Test or IAT paper (from 1998). It's quite accessible and should provide a better justification for why this research is rigorous and novel.

http://faculty.fortlewis.edu/burke_b/Senior/BLINK%20replicat...


C.f. the Milgram experiment.

Are you suggesting Milgram's experiments are somehow unsound?


No. Milgram did his experiment to show how the impression of authority, which in his case was scientific authority, could lead to unsound decisions like applying an electric shock to a stranger.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment


I know Hank and the reason he can't raise money has nothing to do with his race. In fact, he raised $40 million as the CEO of Clickradio in 1998.

His problem is two-fold. First, he sued his previous investors (and lost). A lot of people had their companies fail in 2001, but dragging his investors through a 5-year battle made him a minor legend. Ultimately, he was suing them in retaliation for firing him from Clickradio, which is what they did to try to save the company. Second, he has at least three ex-employees of his current venture whom he's tried to retroactively cut out of the company after they left. One of them is owed over a hundred thousand. If that comes out in due diligence, and it will because half the Valley already knows it, he's a goner.

There are a number of black people in technology I would fund in a heartbeat. Hank is not one of them.


Having read many threads on HN about race, gender and other -isms, I can predict what this comment section will look like at around 100 comments. It will be equal parts denial of other peoples' experiences and dogged insistence on the existence of a magical leveling force ensuring that justice has been perfectly delivered. There will be some gems among all that, but it's mostly going to be sweeping, questionable assertions about a wide swath of people.

Before you comment, please read about the Just World fallacy (thanks irahul) and ask yourself whether you may be subject to it. And answer honestly.

http://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/06/07/the-just-world-fallac...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_hypothesis


I would argue a "the world is INjust" (fallacy?). Humans are and will always be biased in some form or another. Any form of "just" is more or less socially constructed by those who invested their efforts into shaping the accepted perception of "just" and moved the public perception towards what they perceive as what "just" should be.

So the two alternative are that one can either work within the current status quo (e.g. be pragmatic about it) or, if the situation is presumed by many as unbearable, actively work together to change the situation.


Thought this was a very interesting read until getting to the comments section where the author agressively went tit-for-tat with a commenter over, what seemed to me, terminology and minor difference of opinion...then I thought, race has nothing to do with it if you're simply a jerk to people.


I felt the same way too. But I still see it as an interesting post that raised valid points. Hank, if you read this, you should try easing off on unnecessary quarrels.


There are relatively few black startup founders, there are also relatively few female startup founders.

But both of these have the same underlying cause, both of these groups are under-represented in the software development profession as a whole.

Those minorities who are well represented in the software development profession are those that are well represented in the startup community.

Being a successful startup founder means that you're an outlier, and bigger populations have more outliers. It's as simple as that.


It's not surprising NewMe didn't get coverage.

Taking part in a race-selected accelerator, instead of a quality-selected accelerator, reflects badly. "If their product is so good, why couldn't they get into YC or TechStars?".


> Taking part in a race-selected accelerator, instead of a quality-selected accelerator

This is very true. I'm half-black and I've avoided such programs and clubs to avoid being labeled.

This is part of a larger issue: "black" is not a culture. What we call "black culture" is more like US-poor-uneducated-black-ghetto-post-slavery-culture.

So, if you happen to be black and aren't poor and aren't living in a ghetto, you don't really identify strongly with what most people call "black culture".

This means that successful, main-stream blacks (speaking of Canada, here) are dis-inclined to live with or be particularly helpful to struggling blacks. Compound this with other cultural divides like high religiosity of uneducated blacks vs. lower religiosity of educated people in general, and there really is a sense of "those losers are embarrassing us."

Contrast this to other minority groups that have strong cultural ties. If Jews are shunned in a country, they tend to set up their own parallel social structures. Chinese help Chinese, etc.

Kenyans help Kenyans, and Somalis help Somalis, but blacks (in general) don't really help blacks, because "black" is not a well-defined cultural group. It's only a well-defined cultural stereotype.


there really is a sense of "those losers are embarrassing us."

Chris Rock has a famous rant about this: "There are black people and there are n!!!ers, and the n!!!ers have got to go"


Hilarious rant, but there's still the problem of the word "nigger".

There's a recent tendency to equate "nigger" with "white trash". White people don't call white trash niggers.

Innocent whites weren't hung from trees in living memory with crowds of blacks shouting "white trash!". The word "nigger" is more offensive (for now) because of the history of its use. It's an ugly word.

By analogy, ask an Irish Catholic which is more offensive: "white trash" or "dogan". Actually, don't ask, unless you know the person really well.


Hence my unusual spelling.

I'm not sure the white trash equivalency is really gaining momentum, though.

Whites never deeply disliked their poorer and less-educated brethren despite looking down on them, and there has been a spate of "white trash is cool" with the popularity of the Cable Guy and Redneck comedy tours.


>Hence my unusual spelling.

Oh, I wasn't intending to criticize you. Yeah, I agree.


Are you kidding? Which one is the quality-selected accelerator? You mentioned YC and TechStars, but both of these have a large number of examples of a selection bias that seems to skew to young, male Ivy League grads. Trying to skew that another way seems like a good idea to me.


Hmm...two curious assumptions here:

1) that a "race-selected" accelerator is not a "quality-selected" one and 2) that the NewME companies are all YC and TechStars rejects

Curious what led you to them.


A race-selected accelerator is filtering based on race first, then on quality. It's not business investment, it's social entrepreneurship.

Step 1) Throw out 87% of applications randomly. Step 2) Select based on quality. Step 3) Profit?

Compare that to a quality-selected accelerator:

Step 1) Select based on quality. Step 2) Profit!

A race-based accelerator will only outperform a quality-selected accelerator if there's a race that inherently, innately outperforms all other races. Science has pretty well debunked that one.

As to #2, you'd have to be really, really, really stupid to go with a niche accelerator that no one's ever heard of IF given the option of going with YC or TS.

NewMe could barely get a mention in TechCrunch, and, when they did, the social entrepreneurship side story beat out the "here are our awesome companies!" story.


Not necessarily. You're working under the assumption that Black entrepreneurs don't have a harder time getting exposure or VC funding than other groups, thus focusing solely on Black startups will likely yield a suboptimal group. This is likely to be false. If it is the case that Black startups have it harder, it is likely that strong startups exist that are being overlooked in this group. Thus intentionally taking an extra look at black entrepreneurs could in fact be a smart business decision. Furthermore, there's also the uniqueness factor that could bring extra "free" exposure which is the lifeblood of a startup.

"Merit" has different meanings in different contexts. In the startup world, merit means whoever will likely bring in the most return on investment. He's betting that the overlooked black startups fit the bill. That's a 100% business calculation.


I really hate getting into these discussions because can quickly devolve into either:

a) a stale conversation because people get afraid of coming off racist

b) ad hominem and actually racist ignorantly spouting stereotypes of different races without any factual basis

but I feel like at times its good for me to add my perspective for people who really wouldn't have any idea without it

I am a black ( african-american whatever you like) person who works for a, albeit later stage, startup. With aspirations of one day starting my own.

I grew up in a predominately black neighborhood of the city in the US with the highest percentage black population...

Those things said this issue is both an educational and more importantly a multi generational wealth problem.

I previously discussed at this article here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2438411

Most black kids don't learn much about computers or computing at an early age and secondly don't have family who can afford for them to have one at home to learn on. They don't have friends who are curious about these things to take from and share with either.

In many of my favorite stories about the most successful tech companies in their infancy you hear about this basically band of brothers with (Steve and Woz, Bill and Paul, Zuckerburg and his roomates) alot of under represented in tech minorites don't have this.

I was fortunate that my family could afford for me to have a computer to learn on. But I didn't start learning to program until midway through high school and many times without any help of anyone knowledgeable in my own area town.

Not to mention the things they chose to do were what many people would consider very risky (all of them dropped out of school at one point or another)

I'll close with this part of my comment from that earlier thread

" Even if its not that risk taking is discouraged, risk averse or more conservative routes are certainly encouraged more. There is also the pressure of not having multi generational wealth to fall back on. Not having previously successful family to lean on in times of need or if things don't go right is a strong precursor to risk aversion "

To do that instead of something with much more strongly defined career path (ie doctor, lawyer, dentist, etc.) is tough for many minorities when they have to worry about whether or not their family will be financially sound

Edit: - Another important reason I generally avoid these conversations is because I too strongly believe that Silicon Valley and the Tech Industry as a whole are meritocracies.

But that is why I chose to comment. To help explain that the issues aren't that blacks and other under represented minorities aren't excluded for racism reasons but for circumstances that leave them uninformed, underprepared, or completely without the ability to compete.


I'd argue what you're saying and what he's saying are different arguments.

Your arguments almost all apply to poor people in general (and I believe them to be absolutely true). In fact I'd argue it's more true than people know. When hearing the legend of Microsoft rarely do people include the fact that his Mom was on the United Way Board with the CEO of IBM and it was she who pointed IBM in Microsoft's direction.

But that's different from the argument he's making. You're making the point that it's hard to get to the startup level he's arguing that once you get there you're at a disadvantage because the Valley has a subconscious racism in it. That I honestly don't believe.

He says...

"To be clear, I am not saying any VC says at a partner meeting, “you know I really like this company’s product but did you notice he’s a negro?” Never Happens"

The problem with that logic is I've been in meetings where the exact opposite is true. Where people have said "I'm not completely sold on the company but I'd really like to see more minorities in our investment portfolio". So in my experience I've seen the color of someone's skin actually help people a lot.

So while there's certainly some subconscious discrimination there's also some very conscious actions being taken to seek out minorities and I don't think anyone can say how frequently either of these phenomenons are happening.


> You're making the point that it's hard to get to the startup level he's arguing that once you get there you're at a disadvantage because the Valley has a subconscious racism in it.

These points may be more related than you think. "Getting to the startup level" is not so simple a concept as "either you get there or you don't." People arrive at this destination with widely varying amounts of skill, preparation, connections, and credentials. Not all entrepreneurs are equally attractive.

So wh-uws' point makes a lot of sense. If it seems that disadvantaged-group-X is having more trouble securing funding than other groups, it doesn't necessarily mean investors are to blame. It could very easily be the case that X is running into issues earlier in life that, generally, make it much harder for its members to become great entrepreneurs. When trying to answer the question, "Why do so few females run funded tech companies?", it might make sense to take a few steps back and ask, "Why do so few females study computer science", or hell, "Why do girls play with dolls while boys play with legos?"


Of cause a socio political minefield. Maybe I am too pragmatic about that -

BUT: If I were a founder that would feel being discriminated against in any form (sex, gender, color, your name it) why should I not pare up with a co-founder whom I regard as being not discriminated? If I have no biases within my own friend circle this should be not problem at all. Or would it?


This is, unfortunately, VERY good advice. If I were a young, black guy trying to start a company...I don't care how smart I am...I would go get a front man. Don't let idealism advise your financial dealings. IDEALLY...it would be great if there was no bias. PRAGMATICALLY...there is bias, those kids will need to deal with it.

One way is to come across an Arrington, but as not all guys are like Arrington...you would be well advised to have a front man.


my Arnold-Schwartenzegger-in-Terminator like determination has made my successes possible

I would like to read more about these experiences of his.


Excellent read. I specially liked this part:

"In fact some people get far more support than others. For example, I’m not going to name any names, but when a top tier VC writes a five million dollar check to a 19 year-old with a barely-beyond-napkin-stage idea, no customers and a fragile technology because they “present well” then clearly something else is at work."


Is there a link to this specific anecdote?


I wonder if any of that holds for those of us who are outside Silicon Valley. The technology world has treated me like an absolute meritocracy until now.


I believe Silicon Valley is meritocratic for the most part. I don't buy the minority argument since there are many asian minority presence in the valley. If you look at music industry or sports (such as basketball), you will see many black people. You rarely see any asian people doing sports or music. And we don't blame it on race. If black people are not discriminated in music or sports, I don't know why they would be discriminated in other industries. They succeed in music and sports because they are really good. If black people are really good in tech as they are in sports or music, I can't imagine how the tech industry would turn them away just because of their color.


>If black people are not discriminated in music or sports, I don't know why they would be discriminated in other industries.

And yet there is plenty of evidence to show that they are. This http://www.princeton.edu/~pager/ASR_pager_etal09.pdf for example


Rural America operates this way. People want to know who your last name is and you can get a lot of social capital as a newcomer by working at the "right" places and being introduced by the stakeholders. No big shock here. I learned very quickly pitching that this was a relationship-based business and if you lack those critical relationships or a network that can fuel what you're trying to do, then there's no point in wasting time if you have access to other things.

In other words, why look for a lottery ticket when there are a bevy of other ways to make money conventionally? I get the arguments lodged here, but it just comes off as whining because the people involved don't give a shit and the people watching on TV will perceive it as whining. The problems go back to education, there is pervasive and systemic bias that gets demonstrated throughout our society for a bevy of reasons. Problem is, the tide has turned and people aren't as sympathetic to these causes when you compare them with state sponsored discrimination. In the absence of that, there's just not a whole lot people can expect other than to look for their wormhorm towards what they want.

Math and science are a good place to start.


Arrington's response > this post. He may or may not be wrong for saying he bends over backwards for black entrepreneurs. You're saying he's wrong because of one instance, I'm sure he can point out times he has lived up to that statement. You should be mad at Soledad, not Arrington. And what was the point of this post? If you're going to raise an issue, do it in a constructive way and talk about how to fix it, don't focus on someone whom you believe is contributing to the problem, and then give a weak argument. As a black entrepreneur, I'm mad I wasted my time reading your post. And it doesn't help that Angela doesn't agree with you: http://www.blackweb20.com/2011/10/28/drama-why-arrington-is-...


You may want to read Angela Benton's post again:

"I wholeheartedly agree with what Hank Williams, a participant in NewME this summer recently wrote (Note: Hank has seen the doc)[...] Please read Hank’s full commentary, it’s a great read."


NewMe is one of hundreds of new accelerators, you can't expect them all to get the same coverage as YC and Techstars (who have been around for years and have produced great companies), and it isn't racism if one of the accelerators you don't cover just happens to be race focused.


Let me offend some people.

When I see a white rapper I usually am already biased against them. Sorry, I have associated rap with black people. However the color test doesn't go past 10 seconds into listening to a record. Life isn't easier for a black rapper who sucks. Being shot 10 times won't help either.

So is it hard to be a white rapper? Maybe. But remember, Eminem is one of the greatest rapper to ever touch the mic, and Mac Miller, though a bit childish, is going to be great.


Eminem is one of the greatest rapper

Yup, I'm offended now :)


Almost anything has 'Arrington' seems to beg for a debate. I stopped reading TechCrunch (and Arrington) a bit back since their tabloid-style Twitter memos.


I am more interested in who that 19 year old guy with the millions is


Not sure about him, but I see klout, just raised 30 million on top of a previous 10 million. And there was that social phone app that also raised 40 million... ;-)




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