All Articles Tagged "Google"

Google Apologizes For Tagging Pictures Of Black People As Gorillas

July 3rd, 2015 - By Madame Noire
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Ken Wolter /

Ken Wolter /

From BlackVoices

When Jacky Alciné checked his Google Photos app earlier this week, he noticed it labeled photos of himself and a friend, both black, as “gorillas.”

Yonatan Zunger, Google’s chief architect of social, responded on Twitter with a promise to fix the tag. The next day, USA Today reports, Google removed the “gorilla” tag completely.

“We’re appalled and genuinely sorry that this happened,” Google spokeswoman Katie Watson said in a statement to BBC. “We are taking immediate action to prevent this type of result from appearing. There is still clearly a lot of work to do with automatic image labeling, and we’re looking at how we can prevent these types of mistakes from happening in the future.”

Read and see more about Google’s offense on

Behind The Click UPDATE: Partpic CEO Jewel Burks Wins $36,000 At 36|86 Pitch Contest

June 12th, 2015 - By Janel Martinez
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Welcome back to “Behind the Click,” the column in which we profile Black women in STEM professions. Want to pitch this section? Email

jewel burks



Name: Jewel Burks

Favorite read: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. A short book, but has been incredibly impactful to my life.

Recent read: The Innovators by Walter Isaacson. I’m reading Startup CEO by Matt Blumberg right now.

Favorite apps: Google Maps (because I’d be lost without it!), Venmo, Slack, Shazam, Twitter and Instagram.

Ultimate goal for 2015: My ultimate goal is for Partpic to reach $2 million in revenue.

Most inspired by: My family.

One quote that inspires you: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.” – Prov. 3:5-6

Twitter handle: @jewelmelanie / @Partpic

Well-known technology website TechCrunch hosted its annual Disrupt competition last September. Among the 26 startups selected to participate in its San Francisco Battlefield was Partpic, an Atlanta-based visual recognition startup helps enterprise clients save time and money to find replacement parts. The co-founder and CEO Jewel Burks blazed the stage, garnering widespread support as the only African-American-led company pitching the panel of judges. [Update: PartPic won the 36|86 contest’s $36,000 grand prize, an award given from a public-private economic development group.]

“The judges were giving us great feedback and it went really well, so we had a good feeling about making it to the finals,” says Burks. “We didn’t win the Disrupt cup, but we did win an award [Best Enterprise Disrupter] from Accenture, which turned out to be another amazing thing for us because now we’re actually partnering with Accenture to work with some of their large clients, so that’s awesome.”

Here, we caught up with the Howard University grad to discuss tech entrepreneurship and diversity in tech.

MadameNoire: How did you get your start in the technology space?
Jewel Burks: I interned at Google in 2009 and fell in love with the tech industry.

MN: As a startup founder and CEO, what’s a day in the life for you?
JB: I wake up, I pray, check email and write a to-do list for the day. Then I get dressed, go to the office, eat breakfast, and usually alternate between meetings with potential investors/customers/team members and working through the items on my list. Typically in the evenings if I’m in Atlanta I’ll cook dinner, talk to family on the phone and continue to work. When I’m traveling, I’ll usually have events or dinners in the evenings, then I go to sleep. For some reason I can sleep much better when I’m on the road. When I’m at home, I usually stay up and work and have a hard time sleeping.

MN: There’s been a lot of conversation around diversity in technology throughout the year given big name tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter releasing their diversity data. As an African-American woman in tech, how has your experience been in maneuvering through the space?
JB: It wasn’t easy when I first started my career, because I had a hard time adjusting to living in Silicon Valley and honestly wasn’t mature enough (I was 21, 22 at the time) to battle through it. I ended up leaving and moving to Atlanta to be closer to family and friends.

Now I have grown up and have much tougher skin. It is still frustrating knowing that Partpic has defensible technology, huge market potential, a qualified team and we have had such a hard time with fundraising, but I don’t get discouraged because I have faith we will make it. I’m also fortunate because I’m in a unique position to participate in and change the narrative about diversity in tech so that it won’t be as hard for the people of color coming up next.

A shot of Burks at TechCrunch Disrupt

A shot of Burks at TechCrunch Disrupt

MN: What will it take to bridge the current tech-talent pipeline issue?
JB: There are a lot of things that have to be done but here are my top three:

1) Early exposure to tech — I love the work Kimberly Bryant and others are doing to expose kids to coding at a young age and I have no doubt there will be more talented innovators and creators in the next generation.

2) Culture shift in the industry — Google has done some great work to bring ideas around unconscious bias to the forefront and this has to continue and expand. It’s great that more innovators will be prepared for roles in tech in the next generation but if they are subject to the biases that do exist and play a role in the lack of people of color in management then we’ll never see a real shift in the numbers.

3) More investment in people of color/women led startups — I’m seeing a lot of innovative startups (including my own) be denied investment while stupid copycat startups founded by people with no industry experience but the right “pedigree” get funded. More wealthy Black and Hispanic people need to become tech investors and actively write checks, and more White investors need to invest in women and people of color.

MN: Your startup is based in Atlanta, which has a burgeoning tech scene. What does the Atlanta tech scene offer tech entrepreneurs that San Francisco or New York City may not offer?
JB: Atlanta is a more supportive community. Since its still a relatively small scene, you can get to know the players and root for each other. For example, Mayor Kasim Reed sent out a tweet to cheer us on when we competed at TechCrunch Disrupt. I thought that was amazing and I doubt we’d get that type of love if we were in SF or NYC.

MN: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received or given?
JB: The most important part of your company will forever be the people. Your ability to execute will be tied to your ability to build a great team. Choose wisely, and don’t be afraid to fire when you’ve made selection mistake.

Based in New York City, Janel Martinez is a multimedia journalist who covers technology and entrepreneurship. She is the founder of “Ain’t I Latina?” an online destination geared toward Afro-Latinas. You can follow her up-to-the-minute musings on Twitter @janelmwrites

Millennials Reveal Their Choices For Top Companies To Work For In 2015

June 2nd, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Now that millennials are the largest demographic in the workforce, where exactly do they want to work? The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) most recent survey found that millennials are most seeking employment at Google, which came as no surprise. The tech giant is known for treating its employees well, offering perks on top of perks.

The survey also found that millennials are interested in working in the healthcare industry, specifically in pediatric treatment and research hospitals. The CEO of the NSHSS, James Lewis, says the reason millennials are interested in health care is because of this particular generation’s focus on serving others.

This survey was completed by NSHSS members: 49 percent of the members identify as non-white and the entire membership has a minimum grade point average of 3.5. Members are inducted in high school and receive a lifetime membership. NSHSS was created by Claes Nobel who is a relative of Alfred Nobel, creator of the laudable Nobel Peace Prize. In its top 25 list, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis ranked in third place, Health Care Service Corp., the nation’s largest customer-owned health insurer was placed in the ninth place and Mayo Clinic in 14th place.

As for technology companies, Microsoft jumped from 11th place to the 7th, Intel is now in the 24th place and Dell went up 38 ranks to the 27th placement for millennials. Surprisingly, federal government agencies such as the FBI, NSA and CIA made the list despite the historic stigma that surrounds each agency. Lewis reported on this new development: “These millennials want to protect our country. With an organization like the NSA, they’re not running from it but instead saying, ‘Let’s get in there and fix the problem.’”

Here is the top 10 list:

1. Google

2. Walt Disney Company

3. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

4. Apple

5. FBI

6. Local hospital

7. Microsoft

8. CIA

9. Health Care Service Corp.

10. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta


For the complete list, click to Forbes.

Google To Introduce New Mobile Payment Products To Let You Pay From Your Phone

May 28th, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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There are already services on the market such as Venmo (which is owned by PayPal) that let you pay for things using your smartphone.  Now Google will give consumers more options as it plans to introduce an array of payment products, including a peer-to-peer service that will enable money transfers between people directly from their smartphones, The New York Times reports.

Android Pay will be a mobile payments API that allows third party apps to complete payments directly through their apps. Google already has its mobile payment product, Google Wallet, but experts say that can be integrated with apps that use Google Wallet. And in February, Google announced it would be separate from Google Wallet.

This move will  give Google access to the mobile payments industry, one that is expected to reach $142 billion by 2019, according to a Forrester Research report cited by the NYT.

The announcement was made at Google I/O, the company’s annual conference for software developers, reports Business Insider. For other announcements, you can follow the #io15 hashtag on Twitter.

Google Gives Free Work Time For Employees To Work On Boosting Diversity

May 20th, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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Ken Wolter /

Ken Wolter /

Google is showing that it is trying to work on its diversity problem. Google is giving its employees 20 percent free time to come up with ways to increase the diversity of its workforce. The free time concept isn’t anything new at the company. The company has given 20 percent free time to workers to allow them to work on innovative side projects. But the new version of this perk is a little different as Google has come up with a problem to solve–how to get more minority workers at Google.

“Diversity Core is a formal program in which Google employees contribute one-fifth of their time to initiatives aimed at attracting more women and minorities and creating a more welcoming culture for them — both at Google and in the tech industry,” reports USA Today.

Diversity Core seems to be in full swing as about 500 employees in 53 offices have participating. In all, Google plans on spending $150 million this year alone to make its workforce and the tech industry more diverse.

“We want all Googlers to care about diversity, not just the leadership or the diverse population,” Nancy Lee, Google’s vice president of people operations, says. “You have to figure out: Where’s the tipping point to changing the culture?”

“It institutionalizes this conversation about diversity so that it’s not just seen as an extra or as an after thought but something that is built into the company itself with senior leadership buy-in,” Brack says. “Google is not only leveraging the innovative thinking and brain power that it is known for, it’s allowing people to work on something they care about without having to stack it on top of everything else they do.”

Retailers Are Afraid Of Google’s New “Buy” Button

May 18th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Ken Wolter /

Ken Wolter /

The Wall Street Journal reports today that Google is considering embedding a “Buy” button in its search results for consumers. With high levels of consumer activity on mobile devices, the ability to shop via Google has retailers worried it will further erode their marketplace traffic.

Noting the concern, Google will allow consumers to opt in to marketing programs as though they made their purchase on the retailers’ own websites. Google also reports, it will brand product pages where consumers will make their purchases, only making further recommendation from that retailer.

Despite Google’s diplomatic assurance that retailers will get a slice of the marketing pie, financial analyst Erika Morphy of Forbes Business believes it will only separate consumers from retailers by making Google the “middle man.”

Google’s competition, Amazon, has become the thriving “it” marketplace with more than two million merchants who sell products on its site and give a cut of sales to Amazon. However, larger retailers do not work with Amazon because they fear price competition.

And eBay worked with retailers to sell items but the end results were lukewarm.

Whole Foods and InstaCart (a shop and delivery service for groceries) have also collaborated for Valentine’s Day weekend. It was a major success, but Whole Food shoppers now lean towards InstaCart for their produce needs for better or worse.

As for Google’s strategy, retailers will still pay the search engine corporation for its advertisements and Google’s “Buy” button will only be available on mobile devices. Since last year Google has been in talks about launching their “Buy” button but there is no word when the new development will release.

Google Engineers Teaching At HBCUs To Further Diversity In Silicon Valley

May 4th, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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Google has taken action to help promote diversity in Silicon Valley. The online giant has started embedding engineers at select Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) so they can teach, mentor, and advise on curriculum.

Last year, Google revealed, as did other tech companies, their diversity numbers after the Rev. Jesse Jackson called for a movement to open up Silicon Valley. Like the others, Google’s diversity numbers were sorely lacking.

“Today 35 percent of African Americans receiving computer science degrees come from those schools, but they don’t make their way to Silicon Valley’s top tech firms. Google is typical — about 1 percent of its technical staffers are Black,” reports The Huffington Post.

Google is sending software engineers to teach at Howard, Virginia’s Hampton University, Fisk University in Nashville, and Spelman and Morehouse colleges in Atlanta to not only teach introductory courses but to train students on such things as how to compose a professional email and how to handle a software engineering job interview.

Thirty HBCU students intern at Google interns. One graduating Howard student has already landed a position at Google.

Legrand Burge, who chairs Howard University’s computer science department, says Google’s involvement is a plus.

“They’re not academics but they have domain expertise that students could definitely learn a lot from,” he said. “The word got out and it actually got a lot of students interested in computer science who didn’t initially plan to study it.”

Google isn’t alone in taking action. The Anita Borg Institute and the National Center for Women and Information Technology have teamed up with various companies to support female engineers. And Facebook now has “Facebook University,” an internship targeting low-income minority college freshmen wanting to enter computer science.

Meanwhile, Intel has committed $300 million over the next five years to go towards diversifying its own workforce. And Apple has a $50 million partnership with nonprofits to offer support to women and minority computer science majors.

With Google’s Project Fi Mobile Service, Users Pay For Only The Data They Use

April 23rd, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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black-female-using-cell-phone-pfGoogle has only just debuted its new mobile service, Project Fi, but it is already being praised for offering a la carte service in an industry that relies on high-priced bundles.

Here’s how it works: You are charged $20 a month for unlimited calls, texting, mobile hotspot usage, and international coverage. Additionally, you pay $10 for every gigabyte of data you want to use in a month. But if you don’t use all the data you have purchased, Google refunds you the difference. Yes, refunds it. Currently,  Google is the only wireless carrier to offer such a deal.

Although T-Mobile and AT&T permit users to roll over unused data to the next month, they still must pay the full price for that data even if they use it or not. And if you go over you data plan with AT&T and Verizon you will be charged extra.

Project Fi seems like a great deal all around, but it does have its limits. Right now it’s not available nationwide and it works only on the Nexus 6 phone from Motorola. (This is now more or less a testing phase.)  Ultimately, it will come to Android phones, but that leaves out all of the iPhone users. Though Yahoo Finance editor Andy Swerver thinks, if it takes off and even prompts users to move from iOS to Android, Apple may put pressure on AT&T and Verizon to provide a comparable plan.

And the coverage isn’t great either. “Google is also using Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks to host the data, but Sprint and T-Mobile generally have poorer coverage compared with AT&T and Verizon,” reports Business Insider.

But it will be interesting to see if other carriers follow Google’s cash back move.

Uber Car Race? Google Prepping Its Own On-Demand Car Service Using Driverless-Autos

February 4th, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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Back up Uber, word is Google is planning its own on-demand car. This service will go hand-in-hand with the self-driving cars it’s been testing, reports Bloomberg.

If it does so, the service will be competing with the Uber, which too may be planning an autonomous taxi service. The company has been plagued with reports about drivers attacking passengers.

According to Bloomberg, Uber executives have gotten a peak at screenshots of what may be Google’s ride-hailing app, and are “deeply concerned” about Google possibly using its self-driving cars as a taxi service.

Things are even more intriguing when considering the fact that Google Ventures recently invested $258 million in Uber. And Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, has been a member of Uber’s board of directors since 2013.

Drummond reportedly told Uber’s board that Google may soon be a competitor and apparently the board is deciding whether Drummond will be asked to resign.

Google is looking to put its driverless-car technology to use in two to five years, reports Business Insider. Uber’s probably won’t be ready for a while.

But Uber’s not taking Google’s news standing still. The ride-sharing startup’s gearing up for its own version of autonomous cars–among other things.

“Aside from its private car service, Uber has experimented with food delivery, cargo transportation and courier services, among other offerings,” reports The New York Times.

And a fleet of autonomous cars could really push the company forward. They even have a new institute  called the Uber Advanced Technologies Center which will have a joint initiative with Carnegie Mellon University. The initiative will pair Uber with researchers from the National Robotics Engineering Center and Uber will fund robotics fellowships and professorships for the university. All in the hopes of offering autonomous vehicles.

Google Expected To Bring High-Speed Internet To Atlanta

January 30th, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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Super-fast home Internet connection courtesy of Google, which is expected to be coming soon to the city of Atlanta. If this happens, some metro Atlantans will have more choices for Internet and TV connections.

“Three months ago AT&T announced a similar effort, saying it would add fiber residential Internet connections within the cities of Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Decatur and Newnan,” reports The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Google is expected to make an announcement next week that it will bring the service to Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, and Raleigh-Durham.

The connections are expected to be 100 times faster than the average for U.S. homes. Google is already offering the service in Austin, Kansas City, and Provo, Utah.

Back in February, Google announced it was thinking about laying fiber to provide the service in nine more metro areas, including metro Atlanta.

“Rival AT&T announced in October that it will deploy its own gigabit-per-second speeds to homes inside the city limits of Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Decatur and Newnan,” reports AJC.  But AT&T hasn’t revealed when it will debut  the service or how much it will cost.