All Articles Tagged "silicon valley"
Silicon Valley (aka Santa Clara County) is most known for being the heart of the tech sector, but most don’t know that it also has one of the country’s highest rates of homelessness and its third largest chronically homeless population.
According to an extensive new study, the best way to end homelessness is to… well… give the homeless homes. It’s an approach that Utah successfully adopted.
Evidence shows it is actually more expensive for a city to maintain its homeless population on the street than it is to house them. In Silicon Valley there are about 2,800 people who are consistently homeless. “Close to half of all county expenditures were spent on just five percent of the homeless population, who came into frequent contact with police, hospitals, and other service agencies, racking up an average of $100,000 in costs per person annually,” reports Mother Jones. In total, Santa Clara communities spend $520 million in homeless services each year.
Costs have gone down considerably with the city’s Destination: Home’s program, which has housed more than 800 people in the past five years. Giving them homes cost less than $20,000 per person. The result is an impressive annual savings of more than $42,000.
Now Santa Clara County looks to expand Destination: Home, and is also creating a “triage tool” in order to screen hospitals and jails to identify high-need, high-cost individuals.
“At the end of the day, the solution that really makes sense is to prevent homelessness. It creates a lot of wreckage for individuals and for communities,” says Daniel Flaming, head researcher and president of Economic Roundtable.. “For every community to get better at preventing people from falling through the cracks and to reduce the flow of people into homelessness—that is ultimately the best solution.”
President Obama has announced a $100 million federal government grant program to improve training and hiring of high-tech workers, which is great news for individuals interested in the field. Tech employees can earn much more than the average American worker; according to the White House, high-tech jobs pay 50 percent more than average private-sector American jobs.
According to Obama, the U.S. sorely needs tech workers in order to keep up with the rest of the world. “If we’re not producing enough tech workers, over time that’s going to threaten our leadership in global innovation,” he said.
The tech sector isn’t exactly known for its diversity. At most Silicon Valley firms minorities and women are grossly underrepresented. But there are, however, a few tech firms that are great places for women to work.
Glassdoor looked at salary and benefit reviews as well as job satisfaction to come up with a new ranking. “Rather than simply ask if men out-earn or radically outnumber women at a particular company (though the complete blog post offers data on these questions too), Glassdoor also focused on satisfaction, comparing how male employees’ feelings about 25 large tech companies matched up with those of their female colleagues. If women and men are equally pleased to be working at a given organization, that has to say something positive about the environment for female employees, the thinking went,” reports Inc.
Of the 25 companies Glassdoor looked at, four stood out as having female employees who were more satisfied with their jobs and the company as a whole than their male peers. These were:
–Epic Systems (women engineer salary: $87,742; men: $90,000)
–Hewlett-Packard (women: $91,730; men: $96,423)
–Intel (women: $89,736; men: $88,649)
Another group of companies also ranked well on the Glassdoor list, showing results that indicate, in a head-to-head comparison of the genders’ satisfaction numbers, women and men are equally happy:
–Oracle (women: $99,748; men: $105,759)
Qualcomm (women: $84,231; men: $88,665)
–Yahoo (women: $105,000; men: $103,600).
Following Settlement Rejection, Apple & Google Return To Talks With Disgruntled Tech Workers In Hiring Class Action
Apple’s already getting enough bad press over the celebrity nude photo hack. Maybe by settling a mega class action lawsuit, they can help redeem themselves.
Tech companies have finally returned to the table to resume talks with suing workers over a hiring lawsuit. The companies — Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe — have returned to mediation talks with tech workers in a high-profile lawsuit over Silicon Valley hiring practices, according to a court filing.
The companies were accused of conspiring with each other to avoid hiring each other’s employees. The talks are continuing following a rejection by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, of a proposed $324.5 million settlement in the class action case. Koh said it was too low, and that due to the strength of the case the plaintiffs deserve more.
“Tech employees alleged that the conspiracy limited their job mobility and, as a result, kept a lid on salaries,” reports The Chicago Tribune. The case has been going on since 2011 and it has been followed closely because it could open the gate for other lawsuits. A class-action lawsuit over the lack of diversity in hiring the tech sector should probably have been expected given the industry’s acknowledged issues with hiring women and minorities.
The current case is based mainly on emails in which Apple’s late co-founder, Steve Jobs, former Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt, and some of their rivals came up with a scheme to avoid poaching each other’s prized employees, especially the engineers.
According to Koh, Jobs was probably the mastermind of the plan. She said when she rejected the settlement, that there was “substantial and compelling evidence” that Jobs “was a, if not the, central figure in the alleged conspiracy.”
A hearing is set for Sept. 10.
The picture of the tech sector just got whiter and more masculine. A number of tech companies such as Google, Twitter and Yahoo have released their diversity numbers and it wasn’t pretty. Just as most thought, the tech industry is mostly male and white. And it seems that Pinterest is no different.
Pinterest admits its lack of diversity is a problem, especially since a majority of its users are female. The site’s employees are 60 percent male, and 92 percent of the company’s 400 employees are white or Asian. And according to its own data, only 21 percent of the San Francisco-based company’s tech positions are filled by women, and more than 80 percent of its executives are male. Pinterest discussed their dismay over the diversity numbers via a blog post.
Pinterest software engineer Tracy Chou said in an interview with The LA Times that the company is working to become more diverse. The photo-sharing social network supports programs promoting tech-friendly fields to under-served populations. And, says Chou, it has a 32 percent female engineering intern class and has partnered with organizations such as Girls Who Code to expand the pipeline.
“The [tech] environment is not particularly friendly to minorities,” Chou said. “The industry is not doing a very good job at retaining diversity.”
According to Chou, tech’s lack of diversity is due to two main reasons: a “pipeline problem” of very little diversity in computer science and engineering college students, and that tech owners and staff tend to hire only people who look like themselves, reports The Los Angeles Times.
After some pressure from civil rights groups like Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition and ColorofChange.org, along with the transparency of other Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Google, Twitter has released its diversity numbers. And, no surprise, the company found that its staff is lacking in women and minority workers. Nearly 90 percent of Twitter’s workers are White or Asian. That same percentage occupy technology jobs. About 70 percent of the staff, overall, are White or Asian.
Seventy percent of the company’s staff are male. That percentage goes up to 90 percent when you look at just the tech workers, and 79 percent when you look at the company leadership.
“A Twitter that we can be proud of is diverse, and it’s inclusive,” writes Janet Van Huysse, VP of diversity and inclusion, in a blog post. She says there are a number of employee groups that will be helping with this task, including WomenEng, a women in engineering group, and Blackbird for “Tweeps of color.” Van Huysse says the company has also partnered with Girls Who Code and other groups, as well as lent its support to organizations like Black Girls Code in order to build outreach to diverse groups.
“We know the critical importance of actively recruiting from under-represented communities such as women’s colleges and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs),” the blog post also says.
ColorOfChange.org released a statement on behalf of its executive director, Rashad Robinson, in response to the report, that reads in part:
“Twitter benefits a great deal from the creativity, energy, and intelligence of Black folks engaging on the platform — both financially and in terms of popularity. Twitter’s blog post recognizes that there is a problem and states a commitment to fixing it. So we invite Twitter to work with ColorOfChange and our allies in hosting a public forum that addresses the company’s plan to recruit and retain more Black talent. We stand ready to help and hope that they will be a leader in this effort to make Silicon Valley a better representation of America.”
All of the big digital companies say that being diverse within their ranks is necessary to keep up with the diversity of users. Black Twitter in particular has become a force that drives the success of television shows like Scandal and has everyone talking about #TimeTitles based on this story from Time magazine, “This Is What Bae Means” based on the new song by Pharrell.
Now that Silicon Valley is aware of its deficiencies, the key will be sticking with what it takes to correct them. This isn’t going to be a quick fix. Turning around an entire industry culture, training workers to operate on the back end of these systems and sustaining that commitment will have to happen over time.
Condoleezza Rice was the United States Secretary of State. She was also and National Security Advisor. Now she’s a Dropbox board member, making her one of few blacks (and fewer black women) on the board of a major tech company. The cloud file storage and syncing firm made the announcement along with lots of other company news.
Dropbox also launched a number of new products and features, debuting Carousel, a photo storage and sharing service; releasing Dropbox for Business to the general public; and an Android client for its Mailbox email solution, reports TechCrunch.
Rice will bring much-needed international experience to Dropbox’s board to help it deal with foreign governments, such as China, that have blocked the use of the service. She will also help them maneuver cultural differences as they and develop and promote products in other countries.
Dropbox also announced two more executive changes. Sujay Jaswa comes on as the new CFO and Dennis Woodside has left Google to be Dropbox’s new COO.
Almost immediately, there was backlash to Rice’s appointment, with critics calling for users to dump the Dropbox service because of Rice’s involvement with the Iraq War, secret wiretapping, and other Bush-era policies.
“We’re honored to have Dr. Rice join our board — she brings an incredible amount of experience and insight into international markets and the dynamics that define them. As we continue to expand into new countries, we need that type of insight to help us reach new users and defend their rights. Dr. Rice understands our stance on these issues and fully supports our commitments to our users,” was Dropbox’s response.
Once upon a time, being a techie and launching a business meant adapting to the warmer climate in California after graduating from MIT or dropping out of Carnegie Mellon. Young developers and designers, hopeful inventors and ideological innovators descended upon Silicon Valley starting in the late ’60s. And up until the past few years, not much had changed.
Now tech startups are sparking in cities across the country, but none so much as New York. Brand new micro corporations are settling in the Financial District, illuminating Chelsea, running Lower Manhattan and invigorating all parts of Brooklyn. The same talent pools that once fled to the west coast are sticking closer to home and saving on rents by headquartering in the city.
However, it’s more than cost-savings drawing technological hopefuls to the five boroughs. Initiatives from the city, such as We Are Made in NY, are already in place to offer a support system to emerging businesses. Mayor Bloomberg, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and NYC Digital launched the Digital Roadmap, enhancing accessibility and education. Not to mention AT&T’s $1.6 million investment into the homegrown well of expertise.
New York City has made a point of highlighting and investing in the tech industry. So have its businesses.
Quirky, headquartered on 28th Street, helps innovators prototype, market and sell new products. Cooperatives across the city provide work space and tight communities for tech-minded makers to collaborate. Startups around the city start small and grow from the input and programming provided by others.
Exhibitions are a factor, too. The companies showing at the first Engadget Expand New York were given unprecedented access to interface with future consumers beyond Kickstarter campaigns. The show allowed inventors to gauge interest in their products, beta test, promote and chat with investors and peers in the industry. The fact that Engadget holds an annual competition that invests a total of $25,000 in startup enterprises is no small thing either.
But more than anything, what appeals to these new companies is its flagship market status. Technology is flocking to the city for the same reason fashion does: New York City gets it first. Innovators are using robotics, cloud computing and apps to make everyday life easier, save money and generally just do better. Today’s tech companies are lifestyle brands, and there’s no greater location to introduce them to the world. New York’s all-embracing environment is making it possible to get everything from energy conscious powerstrips to calorie counting scales. If this keeps up, the newfangled things we thought were just fantasies for The Jetsons and Back to the Future aren’t too far away.
They’re already making plans for the hoverboard.
The 394-unit project, called Anton Menlo (it’s being developed in partnership with real estate developer St. Anton Partners), will be within walking of the social network’s Menlo Park, Calif., campus. The cushy rental complex will feature all the benefits of high-end apartments. Plans include options that rival the amenities of even the most posh housing arrangements and compliment the batch of incentives already offered at the youthful, laid-back office park.
Although Anton Menlo will certainly draw prospective recruits away from other power players in the tech and startup market, the digital brand is no innovator in corporate housing. Large businesses often hold leases on apartment blocks to accommodate guests and displaced employees. But community setups such as these haven’t been seen since industrial neighborhoods died out in the early 20th century.
Still the modern company town is certainly an advantage in an area with rising real estate costs, hundreds of relocating techies and a flustering search for nearby residential options. But will employees living among their peers soon forget how to unplug?
Perhaps when you work for Facebook, taking a step back is less of a concern. However, living and working with the same people around the clock can easily become overwhelming in an already frenzied occupation. Still once the 630,000 square-foot housing complex is complete, workers of the pioneer in online community development will have one of their very own IRL (In Real Life, in case you don’t know). And they’ll never have an excuse for being late again.
Is the tech world finally looking to black women to join the talent pool? According to Lisa Nicole Bell, founder and CEO of Inspired Life Media Group, if Silicon Valley isn’t already taking notice of tech’s fastest growing minority groups, it will be soon. And black women need to be ready to jump from tech consumers to tech makers.
“Black women consume significant amounts of digital media. We’re frequently the early adopters for new software and hardware,” she writes in Inc. The numbers are there: An Essence magazine 2008 report found that five times as many black women — 36 percent — use cell phones for three or more hours per day. It also found that black women are much more likely than other female consumers to use technology and the Internet as tools of empowerment and self-expression. Add to this, a recent Pew study, which revealed that blacks “over-index” on Twitter and Instagram.
While the tech world may finally realize the need for inclusion of more black women, actually making that happen is another matter. According to Bell, several steps must be taken not only by Silicon Valley but also by black women themselves.
“Education seems to be the most promising means of both increasing the number of black women active in tech,” she explains. “With a paucity of black women choosing to major in computer science and related studies, there has to be more done to encourage black girls to see themselves as producers in addition to being consumers.”
And the education push needs to start early on. By encouraging young girls to enter STEM careers, not only will this affect the tech industry but the world in general. “More girls and women need to be encouraged to pursue interests and careers in digital,” Mira Lowe, senior editor for features at CNN Digital, explains to Bell . “If women are not engaging in the technology world, they will ultimately not be contributing to the world at large.”
One organization helping to encourage young black girls to enter the tech arena is Black Girls CODE, an organization founded by Kimberly Bryant, a technical project manager based in San Francisco. “There is definitely a very serious pipeline issue. The K-12 infrastructure does not currently provide adequate access to training in computer science,” Bryant says. “Once we can better feed the tech pipeline with women and other diverse candidates, we can begin to move the needle and change the face of tech as these students move on to attend college, pursue careers in tech, and eventually become the tech leaders, builders, and mentors for the next generation.”
Lastly, once young black women have studied and entered the tech world there needs to be mentoring available. “Network with people in the field. Develop and preserve your digital footprint. Believe that you can make a digital difference,”Lowe tells Bell.