‘Black Techies’ Hosts Hackathon to Honor Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK Dream Code organizer Kyle Wanamaker addresses hackers at Tumblr headquarters (Image: Kevin Steck)

Seeking to mobilize technophiles in hacks that further Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s values, Black Techies joined forces with Tumblr to organize the MLK Dream Code Hackathon.  Beginning the morning of January 18, the 30-plus-hour coding event attracted a mixed crowd of approximately 30 programming newbies and seasoned developers, graphic and interface designers, and engineers, among others to Tumblr headquarters in the Flatiron District in New York City’s Silicon Alley.  In true collaborative spirit, organizations such as All Star Code, Blacks in Tech and Silicon Harlem showed their support for Black Techies’ first overnight event.

The brainchild of Tumblr engineer Kyle Wanamaker, Black Techies was birthed in 2011 in response to the lack of tech startup founders and techies of color at meetups. In an effort to diversify the space, specifically engineering, Wanamaker created Black Techies to create a comfortable landscape where programmers could build and learn from one another.

“If you’re in an environment where you’re the only Black programmer, it’s really tough to say, ‘Hold up! I don’t understand this,’ because you don’t want to be seen as incompetent,” said Wanamaker to BlackEnterprise.com. “I wanted there to be a safe place for people to learn, for people to admit sort of what they don’t know, and to build a community of learning and mentorship and entrepreneurship so that hopefully in the next 10-15 years, we can create wealth through startups and have an intellectual vision that’s going to come through technology.”

Wanamaker’s vision was evident during the weekend event, where seven teams hacked it out in the name of social good.

Web developer Georgianna Pinto and team members created Our Black Box, a site that would visualize statistics like graduation rates, the wealth gap, and other data involving the African-American demographic via an interactive map. The sextet envisioned an online portal that housed this data so that solutions can be made. As Pinto phrased it, the platform would highlight the small marches in your community that you can participate in.

Tumblr Announces @Mentions for Users

(Image: Tumblr/TechCrunch)

Popular microblogging platform Tumblr announced on Tuesday users will be able to directly mention others on the site, reports Mashable, a feature many Tumblr enthusiasts have requested. The Yahoo-owned platform’s change will make Tumblr more of a social network.

Here’s how it works: When inside a Tumblr post, simply type the “@” symbol before someone’s username to tag the person. Tumblr reports these notifications will now appear for others both in-stream on the main Dashboard as well as on the “Activity” page, where users can see things like follows, likes, and reblogs, among other things, according to TechCrunch.

Originally popularized by Twitter, the @ mention feature has been adopted by Facebook, Instagram and, most recently, LinkedIn. Users can utilize hashtags on Tumblr as well.



10 Stories From the Web to Know About This Week

Tumblr’s David Karp still dazzles, making really really ambitious New Year’s resolutions, preventing tax problems, TV à la carte, California’s 750 new laws, going green in 2013, the best productivity apps of 2012, bring on the buzz words of 2013… This week’s notable news and tantalizing tidbits for young treps.

Horses and Bayonets Win Social Media: 11 Best Romney Memes

President Obama came out swinging in the third and final Presidential Debate on Monday night. In response to a comment by Mitt Romney about the U.S. Navy’s decrease in size compared to 1916, the President jabbed back that we also have ‘fewer horses and bayonets’ being used in the face of modern technological efficiencies.

Continuing an aggressive debate strategy from last week, President Obama’s quick-witted responses were met with positive sentiment from viewers following on Black Enteprise’s Debate Chat.

But none trended as highly as the quip on horses and bayonets, which became a top trend on Facebook, Twitter, a  Tumblr page, and the number one search term on Google during the debate.

Topping last week’s gaffe on binders, Tumblr and Twitter memes on bayonets dominated social conversations. From unicorns to Wyclef Jean, we found 11 of the funniest Romney memes.


New York, the City that Never Disconnects?

New York’s booming tech and startup scenes could be credited to many things.

It serves as the headquarters for many noteworthy, burgeoning companies including Tumblr, Foursquare and recent Zynga acquisition OMGPOP. More importantly, however, NY startups have high-power politicians on their side.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made it a priority to support the community — from green lighting the expansion of university-run tech centers in the city to co-sponsoring Internet Week New York to hiring of a Rachel Sterne as the city’s digital officer to launching the “Made in NY Digital Jobs Map.” The city is no doubt redefining the importance and value of being “connected.”

Recently, Bloomberg also added another hire to the city’s roster by bringing in Steven Rosenbaum as the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s first ever Entrepreneur at Large. Rosenbaum, an entrepreneur himself and co-founder of Magnify.net, a web video curation platform, was hired to be a translator in many ways.

“I listen to what the city is doing to encourage the startup economy, and then turn it into words that entrepreneurs understand,” he told YoungEntrepreneur.com. He added that the back and forth goes both ways. “I listen to entrepreneurs and turn their needs questions and feedback into coherent, actionable ideas that the city can consider implementing.”

To hear about how it’s going so far, I sat down with Rosenbaum. Here is an edited version of that conversation:

Why is entrepreneurship and tech important to NYC?

Tech is no longer just about servers and algorithms. It’s about changing industries. So NY is fertile ground for a whole series of tech enabled industries. There’s advertising tech, there’s fashion tech, there’s financial tech, media tech and more.

Related: What Do Etsy, GroupMe and Stamped Have In Common? An Eye on Design

What do you look for in startups to collaborate with and/or help?

First, I want to see an idea that has world changing potential — an idea that can revolutionize an industry or have a meaningful impact on people’s lives. Starting up is hard, so if you’re going to take the risk, I want to believe that something amazing can come out of it. Second, I want to believe that the founders are passionate about the vision and not just chasing dreams of quick riches. And finally, the business needs to have a plan. There’s no doubt that businesses will evolve and change, but entrepreneurs need to start with a business vision.

Why launch in NYC vs. Silicon Valley or even Los Angeles?

New York’s diversity, population density and speed give it special magic powers. I’ve spent my career at the crossroads of storytelling and audience empowerment. So New York provides a great melting pot of real stories.

Related: Tumblr’s David Karp on Why NYC Beats Silicon Valley

Your company curates web videos, what does that mean?

Curation is the discovery, contextualization and distribution of ideas in a customized fashion. As the volume of data on the web grows exponentially, people don’t want more content, they want less. And that’s the heart of the idea of curation: Too much information means we need human-filtered content.

Related:Want to Create Engaging Content? Tell a Good Story

How can young entrepreneurs use the idea of curation most effectively?

Pick a topic or focus that you can curate with authenticity and then narrow it down even more than you think. So if you love surfing, don’t build a surfing site. Build a site about pro-surfing on the west coast, or amateur surfing in New Jersey or wild risky storm surfing. Whatever you love. Then, create a publishing schedule — using a mix of created, contributed and curated content including images, videos, text and conversation. Make sure the site feels like the real time web — with a twitter stream that invites new users to explore. The result is you’ll have an effective content strategy and an opportunity to build an ecommerce opportunity or an ad-supported site.

Tumblr’s David Karp on Why NYC Beats Silicon Valley

In the drudge match for finding top talent, David Karp, the 25-year-old CEO of Tumblr calls his company’s New York City home his best asset.

Karp sat down with Webby Awards Executive Director David-Michel Davies to discuss the growth of the micro-blogging site and the evolution of Tumblr, among other things. The “fireside chat” was part of Internet Week New York, a festival of more than 250 tech-focused events around the city that runs through May 21.

While many on the West Coast talk about the area being the future, Karp says instead that New York is where it’s at. Referring to the Big Apple, as the “heart of the creative world,” he adds that his company’s location allows him to be closer to the people that are important to Tumblr, a.k.a. creative types.

Plus, its NYC setting has helped the company lure some top talent from big tech companies, boasts Karp. Half of the Tumblr team of 100 people are “relos,” or individuals that relocated to the area. Even as Apple and Facebook are offering up highly competitive packages, he says it’s become easier to sell people on Tumblr, in part, because of what the city of more than 8 million people has to offer. NYC is just plain “cooler than Palo Alto,” Karp says.

Related: A Note to Young Treps: Put Down the Ramen

Of course it might also have to do with the company’s dazzling success. During the chat with Davies, the grey hoodie-clad Karp threw out some nuggets like how the microblogging website has more than 55 million blogs and over 17 billion pageviews each month.

After signing up 75,000 new users in its first week, the platform grew amid a community of loyal hackers and designers that were already embracing bite sized media. In recent years, however, Tumblr has gone more mainstream — landing praise from individuals and brands alike, including Newsweek and The Hunger Games movie.

CEO & Founder of Tumblr - David Karp

Today Karp notes that the company’s millions of users can expect one Tumblr to be reblogged 9 times. Meanwhile, he claims that WordPress averages 0.8 comments per post.

Related: From Pinterest to Gumroad, Sahil Lavingia on His Trek Through Silicon Valley

That uptake among users, has helped the now five-year-old company reach a valuation of $800 million.

Not bad for a guy that started the platform, as a means for self-expression. In 2007, Karp was hoping to participate more in the blogging process, though he didn’t fashion himself a writer.

“I don’t enjoy writing,” he told the audience. But, at the time, he says, blogging platforms were fashioned towards writers requiring a witty headline and a real editorial voice. Looking to share his interests outside of the “vanilla” Facebook page, Karp came up with the idea that has grown in its popularity due to the ease of sharing texts and visuals.

“The non-ambitious thing about Tumblr is that it is a tool for me,” Karp says. “I didn’t expect anyone to use it. It wasn’t intended to be viral or popular. It was just intended to be useful.”

Related: Going Out Tonight? Zoom in, Point and Click

As for the other uber-popular sites like Pinterest, Karp says he isn’t worried about sharing any headlines. Karp told YoungEntrepreneur.com that he tries to avoid viewing things in the industry too competitively. “For me, it’s not about wanting to dominate the market. It’s wanting to make sure we’re not wasting our time.”

What do you think has most helped Tumblr rise to success? Let us know in the comments below.

Should you follow @YoungTrep on Twitter? Absolutely.