March was all about our Black sistahs in tech, but the brothas are taking over this month! Black men are always the hot topic of many conversations – in the media, business, sports, entertainment, at the Oscars, you name it. We revere Black kings for their athletic prowess, intelligence, and business skills and because some are top-notch executives running venture capital firms. Others are entrepreneurs building legacies in the tech industry; their stories are powerful, and you should know about them.
Here’s our list of America’s ten most influential Black men in technology in no particular order:
1. David Steward – World Wide Technology
Ever wondered what an actual self-made billionaire looks like? Well, meet David Steward. Steward is the founder and chairman of World Wide Technology and holds a net worth valued at $5.8 billion. World Wide Technology, is one of the largest African-American-owned businesses in the U.S. According to Forbes, Steward started at the bottom – living paycheck to paycheck and then became one of 13 Black billionaires worldwide. He was ranked 239th on the Forbes 400 list of American billionaires in 2019. Today, he is the majority owner of the $14.5 billion sales company, World Wide Technology, with customers like Citi, Verizon and the federal government.
2. Tope Awotona – Calendly
Tope Awotona is recognized as one of Forbes’ Black tech billionaires in the United States and the founder and CEO of Calendly, a $3 billion business. Calendly is a virtual availability and booking app used to schedule meetings, appointments, and events for individuals and organizations. The Nigerian native, Awotona, is touted as one of “the most successful African American tech entrepreneurs of his generation.” He wanted to create hassle-free tools to manage meetings and did just that while raising $350 million in funding from OpenView Venture Partners and Iconiq Capital last year.
3. Christopher Young – Microsoft
If you’re in the tech industry, the name Christopher Young will ring a bell. Young is the Executive Vice President of Business Development at Microsoft. He’s responsible for developing global business development strategies that drive growth across the company. As a Harvard Business School and Princeton University graduate, it’s obvious why Christopher made our list. His illustrious resume tells an intelligent story. He was the former CEO of McAfee, one of the world’s leading independent cybersecurity companies. He was SVP and GM at Intel Security Group and sat on the Board of Directors at Snap Inc. for over four years. Can we say, boss?
4. Ime Archibong – Meta
Seeing a Black king rise to the helm as Head of New Product Experimentation at Meta brings a whole other level of pride. Ime Archibong is responsible for helping Meta find its next big hit. He’s among the highest-ranking Black executives at the company and the unofficial leader of Black employee affairs. Archibong is a listed inventor on more than 1,000 patents. He has a wealth of experience from IBM, where he worked before Meta. He got his bachelor’s in computer science and electrical engineering from Yale, then earned his master’s in business administration from Stanford University.
5. Marques Brown-Lee – Tech Vlogger
He’s no ordinary influencer. Marques Brown-Lee, a.k.a MKBHD, is one of America’s most popular and influential Black men in tech. With 15.5M subscribers on YouTube, he reviews gadgets, phones, and smart devices and comments on the tech industry. He has 5.8M followers on Twitter and 3.6M followers on Instagram. With an average 4.51% engagement rate, Marques has drawn in 700 million views over the last year and was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 social media influencers changing how we received entertainment in 2021. He’s even interviewed big-wigs in techs like Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg – mic drop!
6. Paul Judge – Pindrop Security
Paul Judge is an inventor, entrepreneur, investor, and the Executive Chairman of Pindrop. Pindrop is an American information security company that helps banks, insurers, and retailers to identify their customers by voice, reducing fraud and improving the customer experience. He’s also the founder and CEO of Luma Home Inc. and co-founder of TechSquare Labs, an incubator, seed fund, and corporate innovation space. Pindrop has raised $219.6M in funding over six rounds. Investors include Vitruvian Partners, Goldman Sachs, and Citi Ventures. Paul has received many awards and has 30 patent-pending computer security technologies.
7. Akon – Akon City
Famous music mogul Aliaune Damala Badara Akon Thiam, a.k.a Akon, has committed to building a $6 billion sustainable smart city in Senegal called Akon City. Akon City will be the Wakanda of Black tech or a futuristic cryptocurrency-themed city with cutting-edge technology similar to countries like Japan. The town will exclusively use the “Akoin” digital currency, and he plans to have parks, universities, schools, a stadium, hotels, and more. Akon isn’t new to tech as he is also responsible for spearheading Akon Lighting Africa, a project that has created 28.8 million Africans with low-cost, sustainable solar-powered electricity.
8. Delane Parnell – PlayVS
Delane Parnell is the founder and CEO of PlayVS, a web app used by U.S. schools to create esports teams that can participate in state-level competitive leagues. The app schedules match tracks player statistics and auto-reports wins and losses. In 2018, PlayVS signed an exclusive, five-year partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations. This organization oversees varsity sports at nearly 19,500 public and private high schools. According to Forbes, Delane currently partners with 23 state high school leagues, numerous colleges and universities and offers additional events. Previously, Delane worked at IncWell Venture capital, where he became one of the youngest black venture capitalists in the U.S.
9. Charley Moore – Rocket Lawyer
Charley Moore started Rocket Lawyer, an online legal technology company that provides individuals and small to medium-sized businesses with online legal services. These include incorporation, estate plans, and legal document review. Rocket Lawyer has served over 30 million individuals and two million businesses, giving them sound advice to make better business decisions. Charley advocates for diversity across Silicon Valley, and he believes – “We should build the pipeline of talented people of colour, educated in science, engineering and the humanities while also removing the weight of bias – including unconscious bias – that slows down progress.”
10. Ty Ahmad-Taylor – Meta
Tyrone Ahmad-Taylor is the vice president of product marketing at Meta. Tyrone oversees an 800 person global organization, including the product and engineering portion of Facebook Inc. (Meta), providing business inputs into critical products. Before his role at Facebook, Ahmad-Taylor was CEO and President of THX Limited, and he has also served on GoPro’s board of directors. Ahmad-Taylor founded FanFeedr, a news media service for sports fans, in 2008. Before his successful career began in tech, he completed his studies at Columbia University and boasts over 25 years in information design.
Folks, none of these rising kings in tech got to a place of success by accident. They’ll tell you it took intrinsic motivation, commitment and even mentorship from other men and women who paved the way for them. Like these kings, we believe you have it in you to make your tech dreams a reality, and you can start by signing up to become a mentee in BPTN’s CULTIVATE Mentoring initiative. Let BPTN help you get to your dreams!
See you soon!