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5 Top Technology Investments to Make

For most investors, technology investments are one of the most appealing industries to focus on. It has high returns, many growth prospects, and has become sine-qua-non.

However, technology encompasses a wide variety of industries, so we decided to narrow the options and present the top 5 technology investments to consider in 2017.

5. Bitcoin & Blockchain

“No longer are young blockchain startups laboring in the traditional capital markets of angel investors and venture capital firms,” says Alex Sunnarborg, CFO, and co-founder of Lawnmower.io.

“Instead, we’re seeing massive demand for blockchain assets from investors globally who have no qualms about sending digital currencies online to teams they’ve never met in person who has yet to produce even an MVP product.”

In 2016 alone Lisk (LSK) raised more than $5 million in a month, Digix (DGD) raised over $5 million in just 14 hours, First Blood (1SŦ) raised over $5 million in less than five minutes back in September. “Each of these platforms is very much in its early stages.”

Between the numerous opportunities, such as “a worldwide potential investor pool to limited accreditation standards to multiple global exchanges providing 24/7 trading with deep order books and clients hungry for new assets,” and the “speed and ease of closing a round has never been so efficient.”

This trend is only continuing to pick up steam.

4. Wearables

“The wearables market certainly disappointed some overeager companies during the past two years,” writes Leo Sun in The Motley Fool.

However, things could turn around thanks to following top technology  trends in 2017:
The evolving smartwatch market that includes surging shipments of Garmin’s Fenix Chronos and Samsung’s G2.

The growing sports performance market thanks to Garmin offering “a wide range of dedicated wearables for specific activities, like swimming, golfing, and jogging.”

The commoditization of the low-end fitness tracker market, such as “cheap devices like Xiaomi’s $15 Mi Band.”

Expanding beyond the wrist. Snapchat, which is considered the best tech IPO of 2017, is gaining momentum with Speatable’s, while companies like Google and Under Armor “have all been testing out various types of connected clothing.”

Sun warns that “investors should exercise caution with companies invested too heavily in wearables — the market is still evolving, and its long-term growth still faces plenty of hurdles ahead.”

3. Cybersecurity

“As the number of devices connected to the Internet has expanded, so has concern over how to keep that data safe,” says Jen Wieczner in Fortune. “Spending on cyber security equipment, including firewalls, was on pace to grow about 13% in 2016, to $10.6 billion,” however, “that rate is expected to slow to 8% over the next few years.”

On the bright side, companies like Palo Alto Networks, which manufactures state-of-the-art security systems, is growing its sales approximately four times as fast. “They’re really on the cutting edge to help people protect their infrastructure,” says Margaret Vitrano, portfolio manager of the $4 billion ClearBridge Large Cap Growth Fund.

While “ups and downs in businesses’ cybersecurity spending can mean volatility for Palo Alto’s earnings and its stock, the company expects to grow revenue 31% next fiscal year, making its 2017 estimated P/E of 49 looks fairly reasonable.”

Another interesting cyber security stock to keep an eye on is Check Point Software Technologies. Over the years Check Point has proven to be “much more shareholder-friendly” than it’s competitors and social media companies, in fact, “the company has bought back stock from shareholders for 13 straight years through 2016.”

2. Biotech

“This has mostly been a year to forget for biotech investors. It began with a precipitous January drop, and the recovery has seemingly lagged behind almost every other industry,” says Sean Williams on The Motley Fool. “However, this underperformance could lead growth and value investors to snatch up biotech stocks in 2017.”

“Most biotech companies aren’t making money at the moment, which means value investors will likely gravitate toward the larger, more profitable, and more stable names like Amgen or Celgene.

But the greatest reward (and risk) potential often lies with mostly developmental-stage small-cap biotech stocks. Let’s have a look at three that could double in 2017 if the cards — and the clinical data — fall in their favor.”

Williams has singled out the Geron Corporation, Portola Pharmaceuticals, and CoLucid Pharmaceuticals as three small-cap biotech stocks that could double within the next year.

There’s another reason biotech could boom in 2017 — the election of Donald Trump.

As Zacks Investment Research explains, “Trump’s stance toward the biotech industry has been friendlier than that of Clinton. Trump remained silent on the drug pricing debate, which could mean fewer headwinds for the industry.

Clinton, on the other hand, raised quite a hue and cry last year. Vehemently criticizing the sharp hike in the price of Daraprim, used to treat parasitic infections.”

If the Affordable Care Act is repealed taxes on biotech firms could be reduced from $3 billion to $600 million, which “will significantly boost earnings for biotech companies.”

Trump’s plan to “trim business tax rate to 15% from 35%” could lower the tax burden for these companies. This would boost profits for biotech companies.

Zacks recommends stocks like Enzo Biochem, Exelixis, Genmab A/S, Heska Corp, and Incyte Corporation.

1. Artificial Intelligence & Advanced Machine Learning

“AI and machine learning have reached a critical tipping point and will increasingly augment and extend virtually every technology enabled service, thing or application,” reports Gartner.

“Creating intelligent systems that learn, adapt and potentially act autonomously rather than simply execute predefined instructions is primary battleground for technology vendors through at least 2020.”

Because of this Gartner has listed AI and advanced machine learning as the top trend in it’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017.

These “include technologies such as deep learning, neural networks, and natural-language processing,” as well as companies that “encompass more advanced systems that understand, learn, predict, adapt and potentially operate autonomously.” These robust systems have the ability to “learn and change future behavior, leading to the creation of more intelligent devices and programs.”

The banking industry, for example, could use AI and machine-learning techniques.

Since this industry is vast and varied, it is recommended that you pay attention to tech stocks like Alphabet, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon who are using this technology to become dominant players in online advertising and SaaS.

Don’t neglect hardware players like Nvidia. In fact, Nvidia grew “a robust 54% year-over-year to $2 billion, $310 million above Wall Street estimates, and much higher than the growth average the company is accustomed to,” during the last quarter.


This article originally appeared on Due.com written by Chalmers Brown, Co-Founder and CTO of Due.com

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Serena Williams Becomes a Member of the SurveyMonkey Board

Resize-Serena-Williams-In-08353b9e0794c62fecb68b3d4c6f05f83d8042d7

(Image: Serena Williams Instagram)

 

Yesterday, SurveyMonkey served an ace to the tech world, when they revealed that tennis champion and entrepreneur, Serena Williams, would be joining the board of the Silicon Valley-based online survey company.

Williams also shared the news to her Instagram account, indicating that she has a grand plan to shake things up in the tech space with one word: diversity.

“I believe in the power of a question and the impact of data. Like SurveyMonkey, I’m driven to ask what’s happening, and why,” she wrote in the caption, in one of the two Instagram posts that were published to announce her appointment. “We also share a fierce commitment to letting all voices be heard.”

 

 

And, like a true champion for diversity, Williams wasted no time getting straight to work. She also tweeted out her own survey asking potential respondents about their experience with the gender pay gap at their workplace and the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley.

 

 

One of the survey’s questions asks, “This position gives me a new platform in Silicon Valley, and I have a lot to say. What are the important issues you’d like me to focus on first?” In response, the list of selectable options to choose from includes the phrase “breaking down barriers.”

You can take the survey yourself by clicking here.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Williams said that she hopes to play a part in ensuring that tech companies diversify their workforce.“I feel like diversity is something I speak to,” Williams told The Associated Press. “Change is always happening; change is always building. What is important to me is to be at the forefront of the change, and to make it easier for the next person that comes behind me.”

The AP noted that, though Williams didn’t expand on specifics of how she intends to execute her goals, she implied that her presence could help push the company and the sector in a more diverse direction.

Despite diversity efforts from tech giants like Apple, Google, and Facebook, diversity in Silicon Valley still remains dismal. For instance, according to the same article from The AP, SurveyMonkey employs roughly 650 workers but only 14% of the total payroll consists of African Americans and 27% of technology jobs are filled by women.

Facebook’s 2015 numbers were even more disappointing—55% of its U.S. employees were white, while 2% were black. Its senior leadership at the time was composed of 73% white, and 2% black.

Apple reported in 2016 that its percentage of new hires in the U.S. were 46% white, compared to 13% black. Fifty-five percent of their tech employees were white, while only 8% were black; and 77% of tech employees were male, compared to 23% female.

Williams has been keeping busy since going on maternity leave, after news of her pregnancy surfaced in April. In addition to her clothing line, owning a stake in the Miami Dolphins, and recently becoming the face of Intel’s 7th Generation Intel Core processor campaign, the world’s highest paid female athlete is also teaming up with Tempur-Pedic in a marketing campaign touting the importance and power of sleep—something Williams has  repeatedly stated is a critical component of her training and recovery regimen.

In an interview with Fortune magazine, SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie said that the company was looking to add board members from outside industries.

“Silicon Valley is super competitive, and there’s no winner like Serena in any sport in any decade,” Lurie told Fortune.

Lurie also noted that Williams’ competitive spirit, matched with her entrepreneurial experiences, and marketing knowledge, makes her a great addition to the survey development software company’s board.

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African American(T)

Serena Williams Becomes a Member of the SurveyMonkey Board

Resize-Serena-Williams-In-08353b9e0794c62fecb68b3d4c6f05f83d8042d7

(Image: Serena Williams Instagram)

 

Yesterday, SurveyMonkey served an ace to the tech world, when they revealed that tennis champion and entrepreneur, Serena Williams, would be joining the board of the Silicon Valley-based online survey company.

Williams also shared the news to her Instagram account, indicating that she has a grand plan to shake things up in the tech space with one word: diversity.

“I believe in the power of a question and the impact of data. Like SurveyMonkey, I’m driven to ask what’s happening, and why,” she wrote in the caption, in one of the two Instagram posts that were published to announce her appointment. “We also share a fierce commitment to letting all voices be heard.”

 

 

And, like a true champion for diversity, Williams wasted no time getting straight to work. She also tweeted out her own survey asking potential respondents about their experience with the gender pay gap at their workplace and the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley.

 

 

One of the survey’s questions asks, “This position gives me a new platform in Silicon Valley, and I have a lot to say. What are the important issues you’d like me to focus on first?” In response, the list of selectable options to choose from includes the phrase “breaking down barriers.”

You can take the survey yourself by clicking here.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Williams said that she hopes to play a part in ensuring that tech companies diversify their workforce.“I feel like diversity is something I speak to,” Williams told The Associated Press. “Change is always happening; change is always building. What is important to me is to be at the forefront of the change, and to make it easier for the next person that comes behind me.”

The AP noted that, though Williams didn’t expand on specifics of how she intends to execute her goals, she implied that her presence could help push the company and the sector in a more diverse direction.

Despite diversity efforts from tech giants like Apple, Google, and Facebook, diversity in Silicon Valley still remains dismal. For instance, according to the same article from The AP, SurveyMonkey employs roughly 650 workers but only 14% of the total payroll consists of African Americans and 27% of technology jobs are filled by women.

Facebook’s 2015 numbers were even more disappointing—55% of its U.S. employees were white, while 2% were black. Its senior leadership at the time was composed of 73% white, and 2% black.

Apple reported in 2016 that its percentage of new hires in the U.S. were 46% white, compared to 13% black. Fifty-five percent of their tech employees were white, while only 8% were black; and 77% of tech employees were male, compared to 23% female.

Williams has been keeping busy since going on maternity leave, after news of her pregnancy surfaced in April. In addition to her clothing line, owning a stake in the Miami Dolphins, and recently becoming the face of Intel’s 7th Generation Intel Core processor campaign, the world’s highest paid female athlete is also teaming up with Tempur-Pedic in a marketing campaign touting the importance and power of sleep—something Williams has  repeatedly stated is a critical component of her training and recovery regimen.

In an interview with Fortune magazine, SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie said that the company was looking to add board members from outside industries.

“Silicon Valley is super competitive, and there’s no winner like Serena in any sport in any decade,” Lurie told Fortune.

Lurie also noted that Williams’ competitive spirit, matched with her entrepreneurial experiences, and marketing knowledge, makes her a great addition to the survey development software company’s board.

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New Program Molds HBCU Students into Tech Investors

An entrepreneur and co-founder of the Black Founders has launched HBCU.vc, a new program to teach students at the nation’s black colleges and universities how to become tech investors.

Hadiyah Mujhid, founder and executive director of HBCU.vc, is partnering with several black investors who run some of Silicon Valley’s top venture firms to back the program.

HBCU.vc founder Hadiyah Mujhid (Image: Courtesy of Hadiyah Mujhid)

HBCU.vc will focus on training students how to think like investors, providing them the tools to develop startup communities on their campuses.

Righting a Funding Wrong

 

The program comes as statistics show financing for black tech firms is at dismal levels. Take the #ProjectDiane study revealing that only 88 startup tech firms were run by black women. They accounted for a measly 4% of the roughly 2,200 tech startups overseen by women.

The study also showed that funding on average for a black female founder is around $36,000. In contrast, the average failed startup raises $1.3 million; firms the study reported are typically started by white men. Other reports in recent years have shown less than 1% of tech firms with black founders get venture capital financing.

Building Wealth

 

Additionally, observers have noted that entrepreneurship often sparks wealth creation. So the start up of black tech firms can help African Americans build wealth for themselves and their communities.

Mujhid says the timing to start HBCU.vc is perfect. She says HBCU campuses are becoming more aware of the opportunities and benefits of tech entrepreneurship. She noted some schools are ramping up their technology transfer programs to monetize their technology from their research departments.

“Right now, a key piece is access to more funding and mentorship—that’s the gap we’re filling,” she says.

Programs like Black Founders and NewMe help train and show blacks how to become entrepreneurs, says Mujhid. Yet, after these companies are started they still often face difficulties in obtaining funding when compared to tech companies started by their white peers, she added.

Investing in Black Startups

 

She says HBCU.vc will provide investment dollars to promising startups present in the black community that lack the access and the network to secure funding.

“Our student investment team will be making a direct impact in their own community by helping to fund these startups and gain venture experience at the same time,” she explains.

In the program’s initial phase, Mujhid says students help identify startups for potential funding. “Students will work with entrepreneurs to understand their product and needs, and then they will present the deal to our investment partners for funding.”

The program will begin this September. Mujhid says HBCU.vc won’t know which schools it will partner with until after students apply and are selected. Students will primarily be trained virtually for five weeks through video sessions, learning the basics of startup investing.

They will then work with an assigned mentor during the school year to identify and source investment opportunities. Though students will not earn equity in startups funded via HBCU.vc, Mujhid says they will gain real venture experience and put those skills to use on their campuses.

A Dream Team of Investing Mentors

 

She has lined up a dream team of investors and mentors for students will work with. They include Charles Hudson, managing partner at (Precursor Ventures); Brian Dixon, a partner at Kapor Capital; and Monique Woodard, the first African American venture partner at 500 Startups. All told, HBCU.vc now has 14 mentors with plans to add more.

A software engineer, Mujhid launched HBCU.vc after helping start Playpen Labs in 2013. The San Francisco-based software and web development firm helps other firms launch products in various industries. She is among four people who started the Black Founders. The national nonprofit group was created in 2011 in San Francisco to boost the number of successful black entrepreneurs in tech.

The HBCU.vc is accepting applications now for students that want to join the program for the fall semester. The deadline for applications is June 1. Only students enrolled at historically black colleges and universities during the 2017-2018 academic year are eligible to apply. Applications are open to all students regardless of their major. Freshman are not eligible.

Applications and more details can be found at the HBCU.vc site.


Jeffrey McKinney is a long-time freelance business writer and reporter, contributing to Black Enterprise magazine for several years on a broad range of business and financial topics.

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African American(T)

Google Ushers in Era of the Super Smart Machine at Google I/O

I-O_Wed_Keynote_MR_288_sm-77d23a46f54ceba2488418cc4facccdb524c8bc5

Google

Google gave a glimpse into how pervasive—and almost scary, yet-cool—artificial intelligence will be at the Google I/O conference on Wednesday.

Imagine pointing your smartphone at a flower and having your phone tell you what type of flower it is. Or, point a phone at a Wi-Fi router’s sticker and get the password to display on the phone’s screen. This is a soon-to-be-rolled-out feature in the Google ecosystem: Google Lens.

Google Lens and more advanced technologies were unveiled at the tech titan’s annual developer’s conference.

Super Smart Technology Via Machine Learning

CEO Sundar Pichai kicked off the conference with his keynote address. Pichai said that Google’s previous mantra of “mobile first” has now transitioned to “AI [Artificial Intelligence] first.”

(Image: Google)

Pichai referred to Google’s recent advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Computer systems’ image recognition now rates “even better than humans,” he said.

Another announcement that captivated the audience of almost 7,000 (with thousands and thousands more watching the livestream) was the new features of Google Assistant. An onstage demo showed someone taking a photo of a theater marquee with a band’s upcoming concert information. Assistant interacts with Google Lens to provide automated tasks and more information about the photo.

(Image: Google)

For instance, with the photo of the marquee, Assistant can recognize the image and play the band’s music, add the concert date to your calendar, and even purchase concert tickets.

Other Announcements from Google

Other interesting—and geeky—announcements from Google I/O include:

  • Google Assistant is now available for iPhone.
  • Google’s VR technology, Daydream, will be rolled out to the Samsung Galaxy 8 this summer via a software rollout.
  • In partnerships with HTC and Lenovo, two new Daydream standalone virtual reality headsets will ship later this year.
  • Google Photos can recognize friends and contacts in photos you take and make suggestions about the photos—a feature called Suggested Sharing. It asks if you want to send recognized people in photos the images and offers other automated capabilities. Shared Libraries allows you to share groups of images with others automatically; they can also contribute to the library.
  • The next release of Android, dubbed “Android O” will be available as a beta in a Developer’s Preview.
  • Android O has been designed to provide a more fluid user experience. New features include picture-in-picture, which allows you to do things such as watch a Netflix video in the background of your phone screen while you check email; Notification Dots, which add dots on your phone app’s icon indicating there is new activity; Smart Text Selection, a feature that improves copying and pasting on an Android phone, and more

 

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African American(T)

Tech Entrepreneurs Bring the Silicon Valley Experience to Detroit

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(Image: JOURNi)

 

 

JOURNi co-founders, Richard Grundy, Quiessence Phillips, and Brian McKinney are on a mission to position the city of Detroit as an emerging market for tech startup education. With the founders bringing work experience from Silicon Valley, the regional home to the world’s most innovative tech companies, JOURNi solves the problem of access—mainly for minorities and women. “We provide courses, workshops, and events that allow individuals who’ve historically been left out of the growing tech scene, a safe space to develop their tech-related interests,” says McKinney.

BlackEnterprise.com talked with JOURNi co-founder Brian McKinney about their plans to pay it forward.

How does working in Silicon Valley differ from working elsewhere in the U.S.?

Technology and its impact are valued at a premium in the Valley because the evidence of the economic impact is apparent everywhere. For comparison, in Detroit, the auto industry is revered, rightfully so, because of job creation, philanthropic support, and worldwide impact.

Everything in the Valley moves faster. When you speak with someone regarding their ideas or startup you see the faster pace. The expectation of ideation to scale is everywhere. Just working in that culture and learning the process is tremendously valuable to creating outside of the valley as much as it is in the valley. As far as the benefits, I think failing and failing fast is embraced at a different level in the Valley. In my experience, making mistakes and learning from them was widely embraced as long as you could measure what you learned. That’s definitely benefited my professional portfolio, that along with the relationship building.

What sets JOURNi apart from other organizations?

Student engagement really sets us apart. By offering 100% of our programs within neighborhoods in Detroit, as opposed to the Downtown/Midtown, an area that sees investment and attention, we reduce not only barriers to access, we increase comfort by giving students familiar environments to learn. To date, all of our instructors are either women or minority. Partnering with organizations like Campaign for Black Male Achievement and the Skillman Foundation allows us to focus on coding for black males.

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Bravo TV Star Brooklyn Tankard Turns to Fashion Tech [Video]

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Brooklyn Tankard

We recently chatted with Bravo TV’s, Thicker Than Water star, Brooklyn Tankard to talk about her entrepreneurial endeavors, why fashion and tech are a great marriage, and why we should be thinking about investing our money in the Forex Trading Market.

BE: People know you from the show, but what people don’t know is that you have this incredible entrepreneurial background. Tell us more about that.

Brooklyn Tankard: I’m an entrepreneur by nature. It’s in my blood, it’s in my DNA. My entire family is entrepreneurs. My father definitely paved the way by being the world’s best-selling gospel and jazz artist with all of these platinum and gold records as a music artist. He definitely passed that creative gene to me. I sing, I act, but prior to that, I’ve been producing beauty, hair shows, art shows, fashion shows and they’re always fantasy, avant-garde, over the top because I’m a little over the top (laughs).

Brooklyn Tankard Image: James Hogan – Vod Photo/Brooklyn Tankard

 

BE: Let’s get into your musical production, the “I Am Royalty Extravaganza.” Tell us about that.

Brooklyn Tankard: I’ve always loved plays and musicals and this last play I did in L.A. was really inspiring for me. I said, ‘You know what, I want to tell my story; I have a real story. I have been through some things as a young woman and I have grown so much and I feel that we all are Royalty.’

I wanted to do something different. I said ‘I am Royalty. We’re in London, why not do it in a castle?’ We’re going to make it a full on experience so when you come in, you’re going to feel like the Queen of the day. The guys are going to feel like the Kings of the day. They’re going to get champagne glasses handed to them. There’s going to have rose petals that are thrown on the floor while they are walking in. You’re going to literally be catered to.

Brooklyn Tankard Image: Chris Kelley/Brooklyn Tankard

 

BE: Tell me how you’re using technology to enhance this experience.

Brooklyn Tankard: Recently at New York Fashion Week, I had an opportunity to be one of the first celebrities to experience the first time that virtual reality was used along with a fashion show production. Samsung presented the event and they had these VR goggles and with the goggles, it literally took you to a castle in Milan, which is where they shot the fashion show. When you put on these goggles, you’re in the castle. You can see it, you can touch it; the models are so real to you.

After experiencing that at New York Fashion Week, I said, ‘I really want to implement that into my shows moving forward so, I’m working on a few surprises right now to just really take it over the top—fashion, beauty, music—it all meets technology because that’s the world we’re living in right now.

Brooklyn Tankard Image: James Hogan – Vod Photo/Brooklyn Tankard

 

BE: You were working on, or you are working on a financial app that deals with stocks, is that correct?

Brooklyn Tankard: Well actually, it’s not an app yet. Right now, it’s a Forex trading club. Forex stands for foreign exchange which is the exchange of foreign currency and what a lot of people don’t know is, it’s the largest financial market in the world. This is how the banks invest our money. This is how the governments invest. This is how the Donald Trumps, let it be known; this is how the Robert Kiyosaki’s, let it be known, honey; this is how they invest. If you look at the top .01% income earners in the world, a lot of them have over 61% of their portfolio tied up in the Forex market.  

To learn more about the Forex trading market and how Tankard is implementing technology into her, “I am Royalty Extravaganza,” watch the full clip below.

 

 


Sequoia BlodgettSequoia Blodgett is the Technology Editor for Black Enterprise, Silicon Valley. She is also the founder of 7AM, a lifestyle, media platform, focused on personal development, guided by informed pop culture.

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Opera Making Massive $100 Million Investment in African Technology

iStock-517689248-09c98f85e6d63c761f4e38de0cdfc5e29a64ed92

(Image: iStock/John_Kalapo)

 

Who remembers Opera? Not the fancy concert-hall singing, but the browser. If you are an American born after the 1990s you may not be as familiar with the Opera browser as with Safari, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer. Opera, which debuted in 1995 is still used by millions worldwide, especially in emerging markets. Opera just announced a $100 million investment over the next two years in Africa’s digital economy.

Opera is the dominant mobile browser on the African continent. It recently hit over 100 million monthly users in Africa.

The browser has only .48% of the browser market share in the United States:

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Browser Market Share

However, it has 3.55% of the global market share:

 

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Browser Market Share

And the Opera Mini browser is used by half of Africa’s population. Its adoption is fueled by tools that deliver low-cost data usage.

The $100 million will go toward developing artificial intelligence that delivers Africans customized and localized content. The browser company says it will also reduce data costs by 90%.

The goal is also to grow African businesses. Working with African tech companies, Opera will bundle in third-party services that provide mobile payment and data features into the browser.

“Africa is a very important market for Opera. Nine of the top 20 Opera Mini user countries are from Africa,” says Richard Monday, vice president of Africa, Opera Software in a press release.

“We aim to invest heavily in Africa, to build a local platform and grow with the local business partners. This platform will expand the user base for content providers, e-commerce businesses, operators, OEM’s, and others to strengthen the African internet ecosystem.”

The investment will also create jobs. Opera already has offices in South Africa in Cape Town and Johannesburg. It’s opening new offices in Lagos, Nigeria, and Nairobi, Kenya. The goal is to hire 100 people in these offices within the next three years.

The company also launched a series of TV and radio ads for African audiences promoting the browser. The ads promote the Opera Mini browser and are currently airing in South Africa and Kenya and soon in Nigeria. View one of the ads below:

 

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3 Tech Scholarships to Apply for Now

WOCinTech

Since Nicki Minaj’s spontaneous offer to foot the bill for select Twitter followers’ college tuition and student loan payments over the weekend, everyone has had college tuition bills and student loan payments on the brain. For those who are considering a career in the tech industry, there are ways to bypass this financial headache, and they don’t involve soliciting celebrity aid on social media.

What if you had the ability to obtain the type of training and education necessary to increase your tech aptitude via a program that takes less than four years to complete? And, what if this program, which has been specially designed to prepare students for the ever-evolving tech landscape, also offered scholarships to help ease the pain of tuition bills or potential loan payments?

 

WOCinTech (Image: WOCinTech)

 

Here are three programs, which provide students with the coding or entrepreneurial skills needed to excel in the tech industry, that are currently offering scholarships:

 

1. Draper University 

 

According to Draper University’s website, the curriculum is designed to help students “go from an idea, to a product ready to pitch to [over] 80 venture capital investors.” As a Draper University alumna, I can attest to this myself. In this one-liner’s deference, a product’s preparedness for pitch is ultimately dependent on the student’s effort. However,  Draper University staff members are all ready and willing to help students reach that point.

Draper University now offers scholarships to assist students with the program’s tuition. While the program doesn’t publicize these scholarships, I have the inside scoop. Once you apply, ask specifically about your scholarship options. Draper University is on a mission to increase diversity, so now is a better time than ever to enroll. 

 

Application Deadline: May 24, 2017

 

2. WDCEP, Thinkful.com, and In3 

 

Washington, D.C. is making a major push to increase diversity numbers within the tech industry in the district, thanks in major part to Mayor Muriel Bowser. According to a recent press release, “The Washington D.C. Economic Partnership (WDCEP)—in partnership with Thinkful and D.C.’s Inclusive Innovation Incubator, In3—announce the launch of a pilot program called Pathway Scholars, to prepare underrepresented workers for jobs in tech.” 

The first scholarship of its kind,  these organizations have pulled together a group of stacked partners—including Byte Back, MEANS Database, and others—to launch the initiative designed to help displaced, adult workers find a job in tech by funding their training.

Here are the deets, according to Thinkful.com:

  • Five Pathway Scholarships will be offered—one full scholarship and four partial scholarships—to Thinkful’s flagship, six-month course in web development.
  • One full scholarship of $14,000 will go toward the full-time Web Development Bootcamp program.
  • Four partial scholarships of $3,000 can go toward either the full- or part-time Web Development Bootcamp programs.
  • Each scholar will work with a mentor, who is an expert in the field. These mentors will come from D.C.-based companies, and they will help scholars learn best practices, grow their networks, and prepare them for the challenges of their first tech jobs. The mentorships will take place in In3.
  • As an employment partner, MEANS Database will provide job opportunities to graduates of Thinkful’s web development program. At MEANS, graduates will help program a website that has rescued over 100,000 pounds of food that would otherwise have been thrown away.
  • Byte Back, the D.C.-based  nonprofit and recent top-prize winner of WeWork’s Creator Awards, will help identify potential applicants to support ongoing technology and workforce training, as a result of its partnership.

 

Application Deadline: May 29, 2017

 

3. Hack Reactor

 

Hack Reactor is a coding boot camp that is offering six scholarships, valued at $18,000 each, specifically to people of color.

According to Hack Reactor’s website:

“As part of our mission to increase access to tech jobs for individuals of all professional backgrounds and experience levels, Hack Reactor is proud to announce our $1.3 million Scholarship Fund, for individuals who are passionate about coding.

Hack Reactor believes in a more diverse and equitable tech workforce. As part of its diversity and inclusion effort, it will award at least 50% of all scholarships to underrepresented groups in software engineering; women, people of color, and LGBTQ community members are strongly encouraged to apply.”

 

Application Deadline: May 13, 2017

 


Sequoia Blodgett Sequoia Blodgett is the Technology Editor for Black Enterprise, Silicon Valley. She is also the founder of 7AM, a lifestyle, media platform, focused on personal development, guided by informed pop culture.

 

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African American(T)

I Just Judged My First Black Girls Code Hackathon

BlackGirlsCodeHackathon_C-422328fabf974f7c92b04651d822563e90089194

Last Sunday, I was asked to judge a Black Girls Code hackathon. The event, hosted by Colgate-Palmolive, was a glimpse into how truly innovative a diverse tech world would be. The girls—who ranged in age from as young as nine, to girls in high school—displayed a grasp of coding skills, and the ability to work collaboratively in order to problem solve.

Over the course of two days, scores of girls and their parents gathered at the New York City-based hackathon event to code. They were tasked with designing technology that could better their communities, under the theme “Code a Brighter Future.”

 

The girls and their advisers gather for a group shot. (Image: Barry Mason)

 

On the second day, I, along with seven other judges, arrived to select the finalist teams, and then the winning team.

Diversifying Silicon Valley; Hope for the Future

 

While I was delighted by the presentations of the teams of coding competitors, I was especially blown away by the level of technical detail the young girls exhibited.

 

(Image: Barry Mason)

 

One group created a solution to help feed the homeless—a smart food locker. The locker would be implemented in communities with high rates of homelessness. At each locker, a kiosk would be available for homeless individuals to enter and schedule requests for meals. An app would allow someone who lives in the area to receive the request and deliver the meal to the secured locker.

Another team of girls created an app for girls to find and interact with mentors. One team created both hardware and software—a lost pet app that paired via Bluetooth, with a specially designed pet collar. This team was the overall winner.

The winning team: Team Quadro. (Image: Barry Mason)

 

I was also impressed that the finalists demonstrated live, working apps. They also painstakingly detailed the ideation process—from showing their frameworks and post-it notes, to outlining their brainstorming and planning. The girls had the assistance of outstanding adult advisors, who really worked well with them.

 

An All-Women Judging Panel

 

To add to the inspiration, the judges were all women—a first-time occurrence, one of the Black Girls Code coordinators told me. Most of us had either previously been in or were currently in tech careers. I thought to myself, “This is what Silicon Valley needs to look like.”

The judges. (Image Barry Mason)

 

Colgate-Palmolive’s General Manager of U.S. Multicultural Marketing Carla Kelly was also on-hand to offer encouragement and help announce the winning teams.

Carla Kelly, General Manager, U.S. Multicultural Marketing, Colgate-Palmolive (Image: Barry Mason)

 

“At Colgate, we believe that everyone deserves a future they can smile about,” Kelly said, in a press release.”This partnership with Black Girls CODE helps us to provide healthier and brighter futures for young girls, as they gain access to the technology, ultimately transforming their lives and their communities.”

(Image: Barry Mason)

 

Here is video of the Colgate-Palmolive/Black Girls Code “Code a Brighter Future” New York hackathon.

 


 

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