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Google paid $105 million to two executives accused of sexual harassment

Posted by on Mar 11, 2019 in Diversity, Google, Sexual Harassment, TC | 0 comments

Google paid a total of $105 million to Andy Rubin and Amit Singhal after they were accused of sexual harassment at the company, The Wall Street Journal first reported. This confirms The New York Times report that Google paid $90 million to Rubin and reveals Google also paid $15 million to Singhal, who left Uber after it was revealed that he did not disclose the sexual harassment allegation.

The suit, filed by shareholder James Martin, confirms the board of directors approved a $90 million exit package for Rubin “as a goodbye present to him. No mention, of course, was made about the true reason for Rubin’s ‘resignation’ — his egregious sexual harassment while at Google.”

The suit goes on to describe how Singhal “was allowed to quietly resign at Google in 2016 in the wake of credible allegations of sexual harassment, and was paid millions in severance.”

In since-unsealed documents, citing documents provided by Google, the suit reveals Google agreed to pay $45 million to Singhal, but ended up paying just $15 million because he went to work for a competitor. Google initially agreed to pay Singhal annual cash payments of $15 million, to be paid 12 months and then 24 months after his exit. Google offered an additional maximum of $15 million to be paid 36 months after his exit, contingent upon him not joining a competitor.

“Because Google’s Board concealed the reasons for Singhal’s departure, he found another lucrative job,” the suit states.

Singhal was a senior vice president of search before he resigned from Google in February 2016. At the time, Singhal framed his resignation as a retirement, but the retirement lasted less than a year — Singhal joined Uber in January 2017. A month later, then-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick asked Singhal to resign after discovering Singhal did not disclose the sexual harassment investigation at Google. In an email to Bloomberg, Singhal wrote, “harassment is unacceptable in any setting” and that he wants “everyone to know that I do not condone and have not committed such behavior. In my 20-year career, I’ve never been accused of anything like this before, and the decision to leave Google was my own.”

In November 2018, Google said 48 people had been terminated for sexual harassment, including 13 who were senior managers and above. At the time, Google said none of those individuals had received an exit package. In a statement to TechCrunch today, a Google spokesperson said:

There are serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately at Google. In recent years, we’ve made many changes to our workplace and taken an increasingly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority.

The case is 19CV343672 | Martin v. Page, et al. (Alphabet Inc., located in the Superior Court of Santa Clara. You can check out the full complaint below.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Three imperatives for educators to get more women in tech

Posted by on Mar 7, 2019 in Column, Diversity, Education, gender gap, women in tech | 0 comments

Women in tech.

In addition to turning up nearly two billion Google search results, those three words are music to the ears of every informed CEO or human resources manager across the U.S. And while most executives are under pressure to portray and speak in the vernacular of diversity, there’s one slight problem.

Bridging the gender gap in tech starts long before a woman joins the workforce: it starts in the classroom.

When I studied computer science at Dartmouth, there were times when I was one of the only women in the classroom. This didn’t affect my studies or my ambition, but it was frustrating because I knew other women who were capable of being in those classes, but they felt like outsiders.

Whether it’s middle school, high school or college, the time young women spend in classrooms is formative — it’s where passions are ignited and life paths are plotted. Needless to say, bridging the gender gap in tech at this source is an imperative. But this isn’t about meeting quotas, sharing platitudes on social media and trumpeting hollow awards. Reversing the brogramming trend and cultivating a more diverse tech workforce requires a tangible, scalable model to see that idea come to fruition.

During my career at Google, I had my finger on the pulse of the tech industry and realized that a realistic plan to get more women into tech would be far different than what journalists and authors were talking about. As Whitney Wolfe, the CEO and founder of the dating app Bumble, pointed out, we don’t need to criticize the workplace — we need to criticize the classroom.

With that said, here are three essential strategies that educators must embrace to get to the root of gender imbalance in tech.

Mentorship is a must

Many undergraduate women are under the impression that getting their foot in the doors of tech companies necessitates more classes or more hard skills. These are helpful, but even more important for young women is having an actual human being who can help them navigate foreign territory.

Social media influencers and sugar-bomb self-help authors are not mentors.

Let’s be clear: Social media influencers and sugar-bomb self-help authors are not mentors. In order to have a lasting impact, mentors must formalize relationships with young women, not haphazardly come in to deliver rah-rah talks. That’s why we have Entrepreneurs-in-Residence at The Garage like Northwestern alumnae Lilia Kogan, a Chicago angel investor, for students to bounce ideas off of. This transparent access to another woman who has been in their shoes, and gone on to succeed, often gives them the extra nudge they need to go from idea to execution.

Less preaching, more opportunities

Simply telling a young woman, “You can do it!” or “We value diversity!” is a cop-out. Uprooting years of gender inequity in tech requires more than saccharine speeches and corporate platitudes. It requires giving young women not just permission, but tangible opportunities to experiment, build and explore.

For example, we launched the Propel Program at Northwestern, which provides grants of up to $1,000 for women students to experiment with their ideas. The six-month program allows students to demonstrate what they did with the funding and what they learned. The most engaged participants are invited to guide the following year’s participants, reinforcing the mentorship and community components.

Collaboration with women’s student organizations

Entering an environment in which you’re the minority can be discouraging, but if young women see their peers launching startups, writing code and leading teams, that confidence has a viral impact. Nearly every school has a variety of women’s student organizations, and uniting them under a common bond is far more effective than relying on them to do so alone.

In 2015, only 25 percent of students incubating startups in The Garage were women. But once we partnered with groups on campus like The Society of Women Engineers and Women in Business, we saw a spike in women. Today, half of our student-founders are women.

Sure, “strength in numbers” sounds cliché, but camaraderie has profound psychological benefits that can inspire people, especially young women, to break through barriers. Getting more women into innovative environments is no exception.

Why are these steps so important? Because diverse teams — especially in tech — are unequivocally better equipped to solve problems and ultimately give organizations a competitive advantage. It’s just that simple.

If we want to get serious about reversing the brogramming trend, we have to go beyond quotas or playing the blame game with history, companies and “the system.” Instead, we must connect with young women early on, through mentorship, tangible opportunities and communities in which they can thrive.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Meet GV investors at the TechCrunch Include March Office Hours

Posted by on Feb 26, 2019 in Diversity, GV, Include Office Hours, inclusion, Startups, TC, Venture Capital, women in tech | 0 comments

GV (formerly Google Ventures) is partnering with TechCrunch Include to host Office Hours for underserved and underrepresented founders on March 5th. From 10:30am – 12:30pm, GV investors Dave Munichiello, Graham Spencer, Laura Melahn, Brian Bendett and Barkha Gvalani will meet for one-on-one sessions with founders. Apply here.

In 2014, TechCrunch launched the Include program, which facilitates opportunities for underserved and underrepresented founders in tech through our vast network and resources. Include Office Hours is one of TechCrunch’s initiatives. TechCrunch partners with VC firms to give founders access to investors for guidance as well as product and business model feedback. Investors host private 20-minute one-on-one meetings with founders, roundtables or lunches.

Founders from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Underrepresented and underserved founders include, but are not limited to, veteran, female, Latino/a, Black, LGBTQ and founders with handicaps.

The March Include Office Hours will be hosted by GV (formerly Google Ventures) on March 5th from 10:30am – 12:30pm PT. Founded in 2009, GV is a venture fund based in California with more than 300 investments. Apply here.

Meet the participating investors:

Dave Munichiello – General Partner

Dave is a general partner at GV and leads the team’s investments in data, platforms and infrastructure. Prior to GV, Dave built and led enterprise software sales and operations teams for highly technical products, under pressure in rapidly changing markets.

As a senior executive at Kiva Systems, he helped grow the enterprise-enabling robotics and software platform to $120 million in annual revenue before it was purchased by Amazon. Dave’s career prior to Kiva included management consulting for The Boston Consulting Group and leading teams as a Captain in the U.S. military’s most elite units. His military leadership roles ranged from running a high-tech organization in Europe to serving as an aide-de-camp to the four-star general responsible for U.S. forces in Europe, Africa and Afghanistan to deploying with elite special operations teams worldwide, ensuring they were enabled by the world’s most advanced technologies.

Dave is a combat veteran and former paratrooper.

Graham Spencer – Managing Partner

Graham Spencer is a managing partner at GV. He was an engineering director at Google following the 2006 acquisition of JotSpot, which he co-founded with Joe Kraus. Graham was one of the original six founders of and was the chief technology officer of the company until its sale to @Home.

In 1999, Graham left Excite@Home to co-found, a 50,000-member nonprofit consumer organization dedicated to protecting fair-use rights for digital media. Graham is also on the board of the Santa Fe Institute.

Laura Melahn – Investing Partner

Laura joined GV in 2011 and is a partner on the investing team. Previously, she established GV’s marketing function, working with their portfolio on branding and growth.

Laura named Calico, Alphabet’s company aiming to slow aging and counteract age-related diseases. Prior to joining GV, Laura was a product marketing manager at Google, where she worked on Search, Maps, Analytics and the brand. She developed the Street View snowmobile for the 2010 Winter Olympics and helped bring Search Stories to TV. Previously, Laura conducted research at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii and in the University of Oxford biochemistry department.

Brian Bendett – Investing Partner

Brian is a partner on the GV investing team focusing on investments in platforms, machine learning and infrastructure.

Prior to joining GV, Brian managed projects at Google across people operations, finance, marketing and corporate development. In a former life, Brian worked in private equity and spent time in Washington, D.C. supporting the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Office of the Vice President.

Barkha Gvalani – Engineering Partner

Barkha works on investing operations, product management and analytics at GV. She also helps portfolio companies scale their operations through analytics, data-warehousing, and business intelligence.

Prior to joining GV, Barkha worked extensively with Google’s Ads and Hardware finance teams solving their hard data problems. She was also chief of staff on the team overseeing Google’s financial systems strategy. Before Google, Barkha worked at Tata Consultancy Services, where she specialized in the leasing business and consulted for GE Commercial Finance.

If you are a partner/managing director of a firm and are interested in supporting underserved and underrepresented founders, email

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Google ends forced arbitration for employees

Posted by on Feb 21, 2019 in Diversity, forced arbitration, Google, TC | 0 comments

Google is finally ending forced arbitration for its employees. These changes will go into effect for both current and future Google employees on March 21.

While Google won’t reopen settled claims, current employees can litigate past claims starting March 21.

For the contractors Google works with directly, it will remove mandatory arbitration from their contracts. The caveat, however, is that it won’t require outside firms that employ contractors to do the same. Still, Google says it will notify suppliers so that they can see if that approach would work for them.

This is a direct response to a group of outspoken Google employees protesting the company’s arbitration practices. Last month, a group of Google employees took to Twitter and Instagram in an attempt to educate the public about forced arbitration. That came about one month after this same group of 35 employees banded together to demand Google end forced arbitration as it relates to any case of discrimination. The group also called on other tech workers to join them.

Forced arbitration ensures workplace disputes are settled behind closed doors and without any right to an appeal. These types of agreements effectively prevent employees from suing companies.

Following the massive, 20,000-person walkout at Google in November, Google got rid of forced arbitration for sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, offering more transparency around those investigations and more. Airbnb, eBay and Facebook quickly followed suit. Despite some progress across the industry, the end of forced arbitration across all workplace disputes is not widespread.

Since getting rid of forced arbitration for cases relating to sexual harassment and assault, Google said it has been exploring the issue and ultimately decided on implementing a blanket change.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Oracle allegedly withheld $400 million in wages from underrepresented employees

Posted by on Jan 22, 2019 in Diversity, ofccp, oracle, TC | 0 comments

Oracle has allegedly withheld $400 million in wages from racially underrepresented workers (black, Latinx and Asian) as well as women, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs said in a filing today. The OFCCP is the office within the DOL that enforces equal pay and ensures government contractors comply with anti-discrimination regulation.

In the OFCCP’s second amended complaint today, the office alleges Oracle “impermissibly denies equal employment opportunity to non-Asian applicants for employment, strongly preferring a workforce that it can later underpay. Once employed, women, Blacks and Asians are systematically underpaid relative to their peers,” the complaint alleges.

Allegedly, Oracle’s underpayment of certain employees is driven by the company’s reliance on prior salary information and funneling non-white, non-male employees into lower-paid roles.

The department argues that Oracle’s “stark patterns of discrimination” started back in 2013 and continues into the present day. More specifically, the OFCCP alleges Oracle discriminated against black, Asian and female employees. This has all ultimately resulted in the collective loss of more than $400 million for this group of employees, the suit alleges.

The office also alleges Oracle discriminates against those who have visas, often putting them in low-level jobs. The vast majority of hires from Oracle’s college recruiting program, the suit alleges, were international students with student visas.

“These students required work authorization to remain in the United States after graduation,” the suit alleges. “In other words, Oracle overwhelmingly hires workers dependent upon Oracle for sponsorship to remain in the United States.”

The OFCCP filed the suit against Oracle last January, following the Labor Department’s 2014 audit of the company. That suit was followed by an employee-led class-action lawsuit last September alleging Oracle pays women less than men in similar jobs.

Oracle is subject to auditing as a result of its contracts with the federal government. Given Oracle’s agreement to provide equal employment opportunity, the OFCCP is asking the Court to require Oracle to pay those affected and correct its “discriminatory compensation and hiring practices.” The office is also demanding that Oracle lose its $100 million worth of annual contracts with the government.

Oracle, which declined to comment for this story, is not the only company the OFCCP has gone after. A couple of years ago, the office went after Google in an attempt to obtain compensation data, followed by a claim that Google has systemic gender-based pay inequities. That same year, the office sued Palantir for racial discrimination. Palantir, several months later, settled with the DOL, agreeing to pay $1.7 million in back wages and other types of monetary relief to those affected.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Okta appoints former Charles Schwab exec to board of directors

Posted by on Jan 22, 2019 in Amazon, charles schwab, chief executive officer, Cloud, Diversity, Enterprise, Michelle Wilson, Okta, todd mckinnon | 0 comments

Okta, the Nasdaq-listed cloud identity management company, has recruited former Charles Schwab chief marketing officer Becky Saeger to its board of directors. The latest appointment comes one month after the company named Shellye Archambeau, former chief executive officer of MetricStream, to its board.

Saeger becomes Okta’s third female board member. Michelle Wilson, a former senior vice president and general counsel at Amazon, joined the company’s board in 2015. According to data collected by Women on Boards, women hold just over 17 percent of corporate board seats, up from 16.0 percent in 2017.

“A board is there for a few reasons,” Okta co-founder and CEO Todd McKinnon told TechCrunch. “One is to oversee a company’s management and strategy. A company like Okta is in a fast-growing industry and there is too much of a tendency for groupthink. You need someone around you to question the basis of what you’re thinking about.”

McKinnon has spoken openly about his commitment to diversity. In a letter to employees in early 2017, for example, he denounced President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on refugee admissions to the U.S. “Diversity of thought and experience are fundamental values at Okta, that includes religious beliefs, gender diversity, sexual orientation and political views,” he wrote. “No matter who you voted for, our opposition to this policy is not just about our business — it is also about our belief in the American freedoms and protections that have made our country so innovative and accepting of those most in need.”

Okta’s C-suite, though majority male, includes chief customer officer Krista Anderson-Copperman, executive vice president and chief of staff Angela Grady, and chief people officer Kristina Johnson.

Saeger, who McKinnon chose for her marketing and financial services acumen, also sits on the board of E*TRADE, an online broker.

“I am excited about the notion that as this company grows and evolves, the brand can become more visible and more meaningful,” Saeger told TechCrunch.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Okta debuted on the stock exchange in April 2017, closing up 38 percent on its first day of trading.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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With $15M, The Riveter plans to open 100 new female-focused co-working spaces

Posted by on Dec 11, 2018 in blake mycoskie, Brilliant Ventures, co-working space, Diversity, entrepreneurship, madrona venture group, Recent Funding, Startups, The Riveter, Venture Capital | 0 comments

In a disappointing year for female-founded startups — at least those looking to raise venture capital — The Riveter not only closed its first institutional funding round, but it’s today announcing a $15 million Series A funding, bringing its total backing to $20.5 million.

The Seattle-based co-working startup, led by co-founder and chief executive Amy Nelson (pictured), has raised the capital from lead investor Alpha Edison, with support from Madrona Venture Group, New America president and CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter, fashion designer Liz Lange and TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie .

As of November, startups founded by all-female teams had closed 391 deals worth $2.3 billion, an increase from the $2 billion invested in 2017, though still just 2.2 percent of all VC invested this year.

Nelson, an advocate for female entrepreneurs who’s spoken publicly about women’s struggles in the workplace, the difficulties of launching a business in a man’s world and raising venture dollars as a solo female founder, started The Riveter in 2016 after a decade-long career as a lawyer. Today, the startup operates five locations in the U.S., with ambitious plans to open another 100 female-focused co-working spaces by 2022.

“I want The Riveter to be the place people think of when they think of women and work,” Nelson told TechCrunch.

The Riveter has 2,000 members throughout its locations in Seattle, Bellevue, Wash. and Los Angeles. Its expansion plans include new spots in Texas, Colorado and Portland.

The spaces are built with women in mind but are not exclusive to one gender. Nelson tells us The Riveter’s membership is 25 percent male, setting it apart from spaces like The Wing, which is only available to female-identifying people.

A look inside one of The Riveter’s Seattle co-working spaces

“I don’t think the future is female, I think the future is fluid,” she said. “Gender is becoming an outdated idea but at the same time, it’s important to think of women when we build these spaces … There is a lot of value to women’s only spaces but our take on it is we want to redefine the future of work for women and we want everyone to be part of it.”

The Riveter provides space to work and collaborate; a digital network, currently in beta, for its members to connect; and programming ranging from office hours with venture capitalists to “self-care Saturday.”

Other investors in the startup include Brilliant Ventures, The Helm and X Factor Ventures.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Awaken offers meditations focused on healing from systems of oppression

Posted by on Dec 8, 2018 in Diversity, meditation, TC | 0 comments

A mindful, contemplative approach to internalized racism and sexism is a necessary piece of the puzzle of dismantling systems of oppression, Awaken founder and CEO Ravi Mishra says. That’s the entire point of Awaken, a mindfulness and meditation app specifically geared toward helping people cope with the harsh realities of today’s society.

Awaken got its roots in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Mishra told TechCrunch. The election surfaced these “larger questions that have to do with race, gender, sexuality and power, and how they live inside of us.”

Through Awaken, Mishra hopes to offer mindfulness and meditation practices that help cultivate stability within marginalized communities. These contemplative practices center around sitting with certain questions and identity construction. Awaken’s founding teachers are Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens and Sensei Greg Snyder — three leaders focused on the intersection of mindfulness and social change.

Similar to meditation app Headspace, which is valued at $320 million, Awaken has a freemium plan in place. For full access to content, Awaken charges $8.99 a month. While Awaken does seek to make money, Mishra says he’s not doing it for profit. Instead, the plan is to use all the money Awaken makes for activist work.

“We’re currently running at a loss and figuring out how to break even” he told me. “The hope and idea is once we are fully profitable, we’ll move that into activist work.”

Despite some financial instability, Awaken is not seeking traditional funding because it wants to retain 100 percent control of the company.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Dallas-based TXV Partners targets $50M for its debut fund

Posted by on Dec 8, 2018 in Diversity, TXV Partners, Venture Capital | 0 comments

Marcus Stroud and Brandon Allen met six years ago as roommates at Princeton University. The pair bonded over a common interest and a shared dream: to be venture capitalists.

“We were at a lecture and there were a couple VCs on campus speaking,” 25-year-old Stroud told TechCrunch. “Being a kid from a small town in Texas, Princeton was already a huge culture shock, but hearing about a world of VC, investment banking and private equity just really intrigued me.”

In 2016, Stroud and Allen graduated. Stroud, a former linebacker on the Princeton football team, went off to Wall Street where he was a fixed income analyst, and then to Austin, where he joined the alternative asset manager Vida Capital to learn the ins and outs of investing. Twenty-four-old Allen, meanwhile, clocked in about two years as a consultant.

It didn’t take long for the aspiring VCs to find their way back to each other to finally start on the project they had discussed in their dorm room. Over the last several months, Allen and Stroud have been quietly building a Dallas-based venture firm called TXV Partners . Their lofty target: $50 million, which would be the largest fund ever for an all-black line-up of general partners, an especially notable feat given Allen and Stroud are located in a market largely ignored by the storied VC firms of Silicon Valley.

TXV co-founder and general partner Marcus Stroud

Building the next great VC hub

Stroud and Allen plan to spend the $50 million on millennials. That is, millennial-friendly startups in the consumer, fintech and blockchain verticals, of which they’ll provide between $500,000 and $3 million in equity funding. So far, they’ve invested in one company, an Austin-based blockchain music platform called Matter Music.

Thanks to Stroud’s time on Princeton’s football team and his father, who is a former NFL player, TXV has tapped some athletic talent to support the fund and its portfolio companies. Former NFL player and Northgate Capital managing director Brent Jones is a mentor, and the firm’s advisors include athletes-turned-investors Torii Hunter and Steve Wisniewski, a former professional baseball player and NFL player, respectively.

A rapid transit train (DART) with the skyline of Dallas, Texas in the background

Allen is leading the firm’s Dallas office and Stroud is scouting full-time for startups in Austin, which is already a well-known source of tech talent.

“We wanted to be part of the next great VC hub,” Allen told TechCrunch. “We felt like it made sense and we felt comfortable in Texas. The thought of moving to San Francisco was out of reach for us. Texas has the opportunity to be at the forefront of what the next generation of technology will look like.”

With large universities feeding the talent pool, Texas has the potential but has yet to fully emerge as a force to be reckoned with for technology investors, even with the buzz surrounding Austin’s rising startup ecosystem. So far this year, companies headquartered in Texas have raised roughly $2.5 billion, on par with levels seen in the state in recent years, according to PitchBook. California startups, for context, have raised more than $50 billion this year.

Texas has the opportunity to be at the forefront of what the next generation of technology will look like. TXV co-founder Brandon Allen

In Austin this year, startups have pulled in $1.4 billion, just north of the $1.3 billion in total capital commitments in 2017. Dallas startups, for their part, have raised just $600 million across 87 deals. Deal count in Dallas actually looks to be dropping, hitting 173 in 2013, 143 in 2016 and falling down to 106 last year, but localized funds like TXV’s may help push the city’s tech scene forward.

‘For Texans, for African Americans and for millennials’

Stroud and Allen are not only first-time general partners of what may become a multi-million-dollar VC fund, but they’re also two African Americans in a field dominated by white men. For them, it’s high stakes and failure is not an option.

VC is known for its lack of diversity. Indeed, 81 percent of VC firms don’t have a single black investor, according to data collected by Richard Kerby, a partner at Equal Ventures. Roughly 50 percent of black investors in the industry are at the associate level, or the lowest level at a firm, and only 2 percent of VC partners are black.

Base10 Partners’ $137 million fund, announced in September, is the largest black-led VC fund to date, but only one of the two general partners are black. Based in San Francisco, Base10 is run by two veteran investors with a well-established network in the Bay Area. The challenges for TXV are much larger, and the barriers may be much tougher to overcome.

“We’re young, black and in Texas,” Allen added. “We’re trying to do it differently. We wanted to really see if we can redefine the VC model from the bottom up. It’s important for Texans, for African Americans and for millennials.”

Brandon Allen and Marcus Stroud want to bring more diversity to venture capital

Allen was raised in New England and Stroud in Prosper, Texas, a small town outside of Dallas. Neither of them comes from wealth, as many Stanford-educated Silicon Valley elite do. They’ll have to put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into TXV, but if they succeed — and even if they don’t — they’ll have helped paint a new archetype for VCs.

“African Americans aren’t that well represented on either side of the table as an investor or a startup founder,” Stroud said. “I think, if anything, that doesn’t discourage us, it just makes us feel proud and empowered that we have an opportunity to help cultivate a fund that is majority minority-led. It’s something that fires me up.”

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Google Translate gets rid of some gender biases

Posted by on Dec 7, 2018 in Diversity, gender bias, Google, Google Translate | 0 comments

Google is by no means perfect when it comes to issues relating to gender, but it’s clear the company is trying. Google recently made some important changes to its Translate tool — reducing gender bias by providing both masculine and feminine translations for gender-neutral words. Previously, Google would default gender-neutral words to the masculine form.

This comes after Google has been specifically called out for its biases in translate and autocomplete. Back in February, Forbes reported how examples of gender bias in Translate began popping up on social media.

“So when the model produced one translation, it inadvertently replicated gender biases that already existed,” Google Translate Product Manager James Kuczmarski wrote on the company blog. “For example: it would skew masculine for words like ‘strong’ or ‘doctor,’ and feminine for other words, like ‘nurse’ or ‘beautiful.’”

gender specific translation

Now, Google will offer both feminine and masculine translations for single words when translating from English to French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish, as well as when translating from Turkish to English. Down the road, Google says it does plan to address non-binary gender in translations. Google will also eventually bring this to its iOS and Android apps, and address gender biases in auto-complete.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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