Google expands partnership with Founder Gym to support underrepresented founders

Google for Startups has expanded a partnership with startup training program Founder Gym to better serve underrepresented founders through a new scholarship program. The program typically charges $396 to participate, but thanks to this partnership with Google for Startups, Google will cover the costs for select scholarship recipients to participate in the six-week program. This partnership […]

Google for Startups has expanded a partnership with startup training program Founder Gym to better serve underrepresented founders through a new scholarship program.

The program typically charges $396 to participate, but thanks to this partnership with Google for Startups, Google will cover the costs for select scholarship recipients to participate in the six-week program. This partnership is an extension of a pilot program that started last March.

“Google for Startups took an early bet on Founder Gym when we were less than six months old, and as any founder knows, you never forget the first people to say ‘yes’ to your dream,” Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Dixon said in a statement.

“Our team at Founder Gym has used that early vote of confidence to help fuel our efforts to train a groundbreaking number of founders around the world in our inaugural year.”

Founder Gym, co-founded by Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Dixon and Gabriela Zamudio,* unveiled its online platform in November 2017 to support and train underrepresented founders building tech startups.

“We are deeply committed to supporting the growth and success of underrepresented founders,” Google for Startups VP Lisa Gevelber said in a statement. “At Google we know that innovation can come from anywhere, but the resources needed to succeed are not evenly distributed. Founder Gym is truly moving the needle in this space – their unique program delivers the tangible resources necessary to level the playing field for founders and help them grow their businesses.”

Instead of describing it as a school, bootcamp or incubator, Founder Gym describes itself as a topical, six-week training program that covers topics like fundraising, pitching, user growth and problem validation. In Founder Gym’s first 12 months of operation, its cohort has collectively raised $35 million in funding.

“As we enter year two of this journey, we couldn’t be more excited to expand our partnership with Google for Startups, an organization that has a long history of supporting the entrepreneur’s journey,” Schumacher-Hodge Dixon said. “There is no doubt in my mind, this partnership will help us achieve our mission of developing the next generation of great innovators and leaders.”

Update 3:14 pm: This story has been edited to reflect the fact that Zamudio is no longer at Founder Gym. 

Google expands partnership with Founder Gym to support underrepresented founders

Google for Startups has expanded a partnership with startup training program Founder Gym to better serve underrepresented founders through a new scholarship program. The program typically charges $396 to participate, but thanks to this partnership with Google for Startups, Google will cover the costs for select scholarship recipients to participate in the six-week program. This partnership […]

Google for Startups has expanded a partnership with startup training program Founder Gym to better serve underrepresented founders through a new scholarship program.

The program typically charges $396 to participate, but thanks to this partnership with Google for Startups, Google will cover the costs for select scholarship recipients to participate in the six-week program. This partnership is an extension of a pilot program that started last March.

“Google for Startups took an early bet on Founder Gym when we were less than six months old, and as any founder knows, you never forget the first people to say ‘yes’ to your dream,” Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Dixon said in a statement.

“Our team at Founder Gym has used that early vote of confidence to help fuel our efforts to train a groundbreaking number of founders around the world in our inaugural year.”

Founder Gym, co-founded by Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Dixon and Gabriela Zamudio,* unveiled its online platform in November 2017 to support and train underrepresented founders building tech startups.

“We are deeply committed to supporting the growth and success of underrepresented founders,” Google for Startups VP Lisa Gevelber said in a statement. “At Google we know that innovation can come from anywhere, but the resources needed to succeed are not evenly distributed. Founder Gym is truly moving the needle in this space – their unique program delivers the tangible resources necessary to level the playing field for founders and help them grow their businesses.”

Instead of describing it as a school, bootcamp or incubator, Founder Gym describes itself as a topical, six-week training program that covers topics like fundraising, pitching, user growth and problem validation. In Founder Gym’s first 12 months of operation, its cohort has collectively raised $35 million in funding.

“As we enter year two of this journey, we couldn’t be more excited to expand our partnership with Google for Startups, an organization that has a long history of supporting the entrepreneur’s journey,” Schumacher-Hodge Dixon said. “There is no doubt in my mind, this partnership will help us achieve our mission of developing the next generation of great innovators and leaders.”

Update 3:14 pm: This story has been edited to reflect the fact that Zamudio is no longer at Founder Gym. 

Oracle says racial discrimination lawsuit is ‘meritless’

Oracle says the racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is “meritless.” This comes after Oracle declined yesterday to comment on the OFCCP’s filing that alleges Oracle withheld $400 million in wages from underrepresented employees. “This meritless lawsuit is based on false allegations and a seriously flawed […]

Oracle says the racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is “meritless.” This comes after Oracle declined yesterday to comment on the OFCCP’s filing that alleges Oracle withheld $400 million in wages from underrepresented employees.

“This meritless lawsuit is based on false allegations and a seriously flawed process within the OFCCP that relies on cherry picked statistics rather than reality,” Oracle EVP and General Counsel Dorian Daley said in a statement to TechCrunch. “We fiercely disagree with the spurious claims and will continue in the process to prove them false. We are in compliance with our regulatory obligations, committed to equality, and proud of our employees.”

In a filing yesterday, the OFCCP alleged Oracle withheld $400 million in wages from racially underrepresented workers (black, Latinx and Asian) as well as women. 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.

Google employees demand the end of forced arbitration across the tech industry

On the heels of an employee-led protest against Google, a group of 35 Google employees is banding together to take it a step further and end the practice of forced arbitration across the entire tech industry. Forced arbitration ensures workplace disputes are settled behind closed doors and without any right to an appeal. These types of […]

On the heels of an employee-led protest against Google, a group of 35 Google employees is banding together to take it a step further and end the practice of forced arbitration across the entire tech industry.

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 walkout last month, 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.

However, optional arbitration at Google is only granted for full-time employees, which does not include the thousands of contract workers at the company. Now, a group of Google employees is demanding an end to forced arbitration, as it relates to any case of discrimination, across the entire industry.

As the employees note on Medium, arbitration is still forced for discrimination cases pertaining to race, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, age and ability. Additionally, employee contracts in the U.S. still have an arbitration waiver, the employees wrote.

“We have not heard of any plan to render these waivers null and void,” employees wrote on Medium. “Google operates in 52 countries where arbitration laws vary, and leadership has not addressed these variances. What should we expect?”

Moving forward, they’re asking other tech workers to join them in their fight to end forced arbitration for all forms of harassment and discrimination. They’re also calling on elected officials to support the Arbitration Fairness Act, as well as Restoring Justice for Workers Act.

“We are already engaging with multiple organizations and can help connect the dots through educational materials and organizing resources,” they wrote. “2019 must be the year to end a system of privatized justice that impacts over 60 million workers in the US alone.”

I’ve reached out to Google and will update this story if I hear back.

Google contract workers demand better pay and benefits

Google contract workers, internally referred to as Temporary, Vendor and Contractors (TVCs, are seeking better, equal treatment. That entails better pay and access to benefits, as well as better access to company-wide information. In a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, they allege Google “routinely denies TVCs access to information that is relevant to our jobs […]

Google contract workers, internally referred to as Temporary, Vendor and Contractors (TVCs, are seeking better, equal treatment. That entails better pay and access to benefits, as well as better access to company-wide information. In a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, they allege Google “routinely denies TVCs access to information that is relevant to our jobs and our lives.”

For example, when there was a shooting at YouTube this past April, TVCs say Google only sent out updates to full-time employees. They say they were also left out of the town hall discussion the following the day.

“The exclusion of TVCs from important communications and fair treatment is part of a system of institutional racism, sexism, and discrimination,” they wrote in the letter. “TVCs are disproportionately people from marginalized groups who are treated as less deserving of compensation, opportunities, workplace protections, and respect. We wear different badges from full-time employees, which reinforces this arbitrary and discriminatory separation. Even when we’re doing the same work as full-time employees, these jobs routinely fail to provide living wages and often offer minimal benefits.”

As Bloomberg reported in July, Google’s TVCs make up more than half of the company’s total staff. They handle a variety of jobs, including serving meals, testing self-driving cars and managing teams.

This comes after Google conceded to some of the employee’s demands in the aftermath of sexual harassment and assault allegations. While Google did make some changes, the company did not address all of the organizers’ demands. For example, Google failed to elevate its chief diversity officer to report directly to Pichai and also ignored the organizers’ request to add an employee representative to the board of directors.

I’ve reached out to Google and will update this story if I hear back.

 

Former Facebook manager says the company is failing black people

Facebook “has a black people problem,” according to Mark Luckie, a now-former manager of partnerships at Facebook. Luckie, whose last day at Facebook was earlier this month, just posted an internal memo he sent to his colleagues that argues Facebook is failing its black employees, as well as its black users. At Facebook, Luckie served as strategic […]

Facebook “has a black people problem,” according to Mark Luckie, a now-former manager of partnerships at Facebook. Luckie, whose last day at Facebook was earlier this month, just posted an internal memo he sent to his colleagues that argues Facebook is failing its black employees, as well as its black users.

At Facebook, Luckie served as strategic partner manager for global influencers focused on underrepresented voices for a little over one year. During his time there, Luckie said he “heard far too many stories from black employees of a colleague or manager calling them ‘hostile’ or ‘aggressive’ for simply sharing their thoughts in a manner not dissimilar from their non-black team members.”

Luckie went on to describe how some black employees said their managers dissuaded them from participating in the employee resource group for black employees. On top of that, “too many black employees can recount stories of being aggressively accosted by campus security beyond what was necessary.”

Mark S. Luckie

Regarding human resources, Luckie said the department too often protects managers rather than the people actually filing the complaints.

On the user side, Luckie describes less-than-positive experiences from black people who find “that their attempts to create ‘safe spaces’ on Facebook for conversation among themselves are being derailed by the platform itself.”

Luckie has never been one to stay silent around issues of discrimination, racism and exclusion. In 2015, Luckie wrote extensively about what it’s like to be a black employee at a tech company. At the time, he had recently left his job at Twitter, where he spent three years as a manager of journalism and news.

Moving forward, Luckie has some recommendations for Facebook. A couple of those are:

  • Creating an internal system for employees to report microaggressions
  • Increasing cultural competency training for operations teams

For context, Facebook is 3.5 percent black, compared to just 2 percent in 2014, and 4.9 percent Latinx, compared to 4 percent in 2014, according to the company’s most recent diversity report. White people, unsurprisingly, still make up the single largest population of employees (46.4 percent today versus 57 percent in 2014).

Luckie’s entire memo is worth reading, so be sure to check it out in full over on Facebook. I’ve reached out to Facebook and will update this story if I hear back.

Apple launches app development program for female entrepreneurs

Apple is looking to better support female-identifying founders through its new Entrepreneur Camp, a technology lab that focused on app development. The free two-week camp, which kicks off in January, will give female founders the opportunity to receive one-on-one coding assistance from Apple engineers, as well as attend sessions on design, technology and App Store […]

Apple is looking to better support female-identifying founders through its new Entrepreneur Camp, a technology lab that focused on app development.

The free two-week camp, which kicks off in January, will give female founders the opportunity to receive one-on-one coding assistance from Apple engineers, as well as attend sessions on design, technology and App Store marketing. The idea is to help teams shave off overall development time.

To be eligible to participate, the company must be female-founded, female co-founded or female-led, and have at least one woman on the development team. The program is inclusive to all who identify as women.

For companies that are currently Android-only, Entrepreneur Camp could be an opportunity for them to learn more about Apple’s ecosystem and get support directly from the technology’s creators. For Apple, it’s an opportunity to increase both the quantity and quality of apps in its store.

“We wanted to focus on women who already have an app-driven business, and we don’t require them to have an iOS app,” Apple Senior Director of Worldwide Developer Marketing Esther Hare told TechCrunch. “This isn’t an incubator where you come with a good idea and we help you think through it. It’s about already having a good idea, Maybe they want to incorporate machine learning or augmented reality, or use some of Apple’s other technologies.”

Additionally, Hare envisions this program serving as a bit of street cred, which could help women get more funding. This year, female founders have raised just 2.2 percent of all venture capital investment in the U.S., according to PitchBook.

More broadly, she said, “we believe we can have a role in bringing women into more leadership roles” and help keep women in the workforce.

That’s why the program enables the core participant to bring up to three members from their team to the lab.

“Even if they’re not the most advanced, they get to come to the workshop to get support, network and skill development,” Hare said.

Apple has done similar workshops, talks and accelerators in the past, but this is the first that’s focused on women-founded companies. And while this is female-specific, Hare said “we designed this program with all underrepresented minorities in mind — particularly women of color.”

Google walkout organizers aren’t satisfied with CEO’s response

Organizers of the massive walkouts at Google last week are — rightfully so — not letting up on their demands. Earlier this morning, Google CEO Sundar Pichai responded to some of their demands, outlining how Google is getting rid of forced arbitration for sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, offering more transparency around those investigations […]

Organizers of the massive walkouts at Google last week are — rightfully so — not letting up on their demands. Earlier this morning, Google CEO Sundar Pichai responded to some of their demands, outlining how Google is getting rid of forced arbitration for sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, offering more transparency around those investigations and more.

While Google did make some changes, the company did not address all of the organizers’ demands. For example, Google failed to elevate its chief diversity officer to report directly to Pichai and also ignored the organizers’ request to add an employee representative to the board of directors.

In the Medium post today, the organizers commended Google’s process while also noting how Pichai’s response did not address many of the core demands. In the post, they write:

However, the response ignored several of the core demands — like elevating the diversity officer and employee representation on the board — and troublingly erased those focused on racism, discrimination, and the structural inequity built into the modern day Jim Crow class system that separates ‘full time’ employees from contract workers. Contract workers make up more than half of Google’s workforce, and perform essential roles across the company, but receive few of the benefits associated with tech company employment. They are also largely people of color, immigrants, and people from working class backgrounds.

“The process by which we build a truly equitable culture must center the voices of black women, immigrants, and people of color — those who too often pay the most in the face of these intersecting problems,” Google employee and walkout organizer Demma Rodriguez said in the Medium post. “We are committed to making this happen, because true equity depends on it.”

The worldwide walkout of 20,000 Google employees and contractors came in response to a damning New York Times report regarding Google’s handling of sexual harassment investigations. Moving forward, the organizers say they will not let up on the demands “most urgent for women of color: an employee representative on the board, elevating the chief diversity officer, greater transparency on and an end to opportunity inequity at Google and beyond” and looks “forward to meeting with Google leadership in working to meet all of our demands.”

I’ve reached out to Google and will update this story if I hear back.

Twitter hires God-is Rivera as global director of culture and community

Twitter has brought on its first-ever global director of culture and community, God-is Rivera. As global director of culture and community, Rivera will report to Global Head of Culture, Engagement and Experiential Nola Weinstein. Rivera previously led internal diversity and inclusion efforts at VMLY&R, a digital and creative agency. “As a black woman who has worked in […]

Twitter has brought on its first-ever global director of culture and community, God-is Rivera. As global director of culture and community, Rivera will report to Global Head of Culture, Engagement and Experiential Nola Weinstein. Rivera previously led internal diversity and inclusion efforts at VMLY&R, a digital and creative agency.

“As a black woman who has worked in industries in which I have been underrepresented, I feel a great responsibility to amplify and support diverse communities, and they exist in full force on Twitter,” Rivera said in a statement. “The team has shown a passion to serve and spotlight their most active users and I am honored to step into this new role as a part of that commitment.”

For context, 26 percent of U.S. adults who identify as black use Twitter, while 24 percent of white-identified adults and 20 percent of Latinx-identified adults in the U.S. use Twitter, according to a March 2018 survey from Pew Research Center.

At Twitter, the plan is for Rivera to “better serve and engage communities” on Twitter through the company’s brand marketing, campaigns, events and other experiences. Internally, Rivera will be tasked with ensuring Twitter’s campaigns and programs are inclusive and “reflective of the communities we serve,” according to Twitter’s press release. Externally, Rivera will be responsible for developing relationships and programs with content creators, community leaders, brands and more — similar to the one with HBO’s Insecure.

Here’s the internal note Weinstein sent to Twitter employees earlier today:

Team,

I am so excited to welcome @GodisRivera to the team as Twitter’s new Global Director of Culture & Community. She captivated us at #OneTeam with her enlightening presentation on #BlackTwitter and we are thrilled that she will now be bringing her passion and perspective inside.

In this newly created role, God-is will help lead our efforts to better serve and engage the powerful voices and global communities who take to Twitter to share, discover and discuss what matters to them. This will come to life through Twitter’s brand efforts, campaigns, events and experiences. She will help ensure that our programs are connective, inclusive and reflective of the communities we serve. You can imagine more efforts that engage and excite our communities like #HereWeAre, #NBATwitter, thoughtful tweetups, etc.

God-is’ deep expertise in marketing and social strategy, cultural understanding and ability to elevate and connect communities makes for a rare and incredibly powerful combination. She was previously Director, Inclusion and Cultural Resonance at VMLY&R, where she led internal diversity efforts to fuse the importance of internal culture and representation to creative work outputs. In 2018, God-is was named an Ad Age “Woman to Watch” and Adweek “Disruptor” for continuing to fight for representation and equity in the advertising industry. She currently resides in New York, NY with her husband and daughter.

On a personal note, I have had the pleasure of spending time with God-is at #HereWeAre, #Influence, and #OneTeam and her energy, passion and positivity are infectious. I know her presence will make a difference and am excited by all that the culture & experiential team will create together.

God-is will start on November 12th and will be based in NYC reporting to me.

Please join me in welcoming her to the flock!

Google launches accelerator to increase diversity in podcasting

Google has partnered with media company PRX to launch the Google Podcasts creator program. PRX, a public radio distribution marketplace, is behind shows like This American Life, Reveal and The Moth Radio Hour. The accelerator aims to remove access barriers to podcasting and to increase the diversity of the podcast industry. This program comes after […]

Google has partnered with media company PRX to launch the Google Podcasts creator program. PRX, a public radio distribution marketplace, is behind shows like This American Life, Reveal and The Moth Radio Hour. The accelerator aims to remove access barriers to podcasting and to increase the diversity of the podcast industry.

This program comes after Google launched the podcasts app for Android in June. At the time, Google teased a partnership with an organization to increase diversity in podcasting. This is that program.

“We want to dramatically change the podcasting ecosystem and support more access,” PRX CEO Kerri Hoffman said in a press release. “Training is a primary way to close the skills gap that keep many from being successful in podcasting. This is particularly true for those who are underrepresented in other forms of media. We hope to elevate more diverse voices and empower others with tools to create and share.”

The idea is to focus on empowering and training underrepresented people, offering free educational tools and showcasing their work. As part of the program, which kicks off in January, 12 teams will receive seed funding, training and mentorship. Those who are interested can apply until November 18 here.

“We are committed to lowering barriers to podcasting through education and information sharing,” Google Podcasts Product Manager Zack Reneau-Wedeen said in a press release. “As we work to bring hundreds of millions more listeners into the fold, we want to play a role in ensuring content is available for all types of global audiences. PRX has a proven track record of mentorship and education, and we couldn’t be more excited to work with them as our lead partner.”