He is posted up in the vestibule of the Fox Theatre in Redwood City, California, where the hottest venture-capital firm in Silicon Valley, Andreessen Horowitz, has just hosted a screening of a new documentary starring the rapper Nas.
Walker is a celebrity in Silicon Valley, known primarily for his success and creativity as head of business development at Foursquare, which he joined in and left in In Silicon Valley, even ina visible, successful African-American is big news.
Next up was Yahoo: While Drummond is, arguably, the highest-ranking black executive at a major company in the Valley, Walker is its highest-profile African-American startup founder and CEO.
As he tries to turn this startup into what he considers a great company, Walker will face all the usual obstacles that confront a young entrepreneur. But he will also be carving out a narrative with unique challenges.
Despite the fact that African-Americans have risen to the highest levels of every other aspect of business and popular culture, not a single black entrepreneur has attained that level of success influence in tech. If Walker can build a world-changing business, he will serve as an extraordinary role model for younger African-Americans.
As if proof should be necessary. Its first product is a single-blade razor system, Atlanta speed dating african-american men with beards Bevel, which makes it possible for men with coarse or curly hair—the kind that I and most other black men have—to shave without developing razor bumps or other skin irritation.
Can a razor be the foundation of a great business? Can it lure young black men and women to Silicon Valley? Can it be a catalyst for real change? Walker knows that his every move will be closely dissected, given his status. While he is adept at turning on the networking charm when necessary, he is not naturally at ease with such public attention. What am I going to talk to people about? Its mission is to connect young black and Latino engineers with tech companies such as Facebook, Jawbone, and LinkedIn.
Misa, who works for the global design firm Ideo, is hosting a session on ways to close the diversity gap. She then turns to the audience: Misa stammers for a few seconds before asking for other opinions.
These are typical, and convenient, hiring practices of startup founders. Under enormous pressure to grow their companies fast, they feel entitled to dismiss niceties such as an HR department that might seek out minority candidates. The problem does go that deep, into our subconscious and our collective history.
After the Ideo presentation, the audience breaks into groups. One proposes that kids might be encouraged to pursue a tech career by Fleer-like Silicon Valley trading cards featuring images of role-model engineers instead of basketball or baseball players.
They certainly would have been a different kind of inspiration for young Tristan Walker, who, like many African-American boys, idolized sports figures on magazine covers, dreaming of living their lives. This was partly because he was a good athlete, but mostly because musicians, entertainers, and sports heroes tend to be the most visible models of black success for young African-Americans.
He claims not to have even known of Silicon Valley until he moved there.
Walker was raised in a couple of the roughest neighborhoods of Queens in New York City. His mother, Bettie, worked two jobs, six days a week—as an administrative assistant at the New York Housing Authority Atlanta speed dating african-american men with beards 8 a.
In eighth grade, he tried out for a basketball team that played against a variety of prep schools around New England. He did, and one day found himself with a full scholarship to Hotchkiss, a prep athletic powerhouse perched aside bucolic Lake Wononscopomuc in Connecticut. Hotchkiss features prominently in F. It bears little resemblance to the housing projects of Queens. Computers and other technologies were plentiful and up-to-date, and classes are offered in AP statistics, microeconomics, and computer science, along with Java programming and robotics.
Walker would learn much more than math and science at Hotchkiss. The air among his peers, mostly offspring of the economically elite, could easily "Atlanta speed dating african-american men with beards" racially charged. It was during these years that Walker would develop and hone something widely considered a requirement for the survival, and success, of young black professionals in a white-dominated environment: Walker a more euphemistic way of explaining this.
After graduating from Hotchkiss and then excelling at Stony Brook University in New York, Walker Atlanta speed dating african-american men with beards on Wall Street through SEO, an organization that offers training and internship programs to underrepresented minorities in business. He traded stock for Lehman Brothers and J.
These were dark days for the Street. Walker decided to try to develop his entrepreneurial skills at Stanford Business School. He was accepted just after losing his job in the first round of layoffs during the financial crisis. Coming from the literal depression of Wall Street, Walker was struck by the vibrant, inspiring environment of the Bay Area.
As had been true of Hotchkiss, Stanford presented more than just a classic education. Toward the end of his first year in business school, Walker sent an email to David Hornik, a partner at August Capital, and asked to stop by his office and pick his brain.
His goal is not to optimize the economic value of any given relationship, but to meet smart, interesting people. Walker spent the next five months leading a team of other Stanford grad school students performing market research on how Twitter could be used for business applications. After Crowley half-seriously offered to meet him, Walker hopped on a flight to New York the next day and showed up at their offices, laptop in hand.
Stunned, Crowley and cofounder Naveen Selvadurai challenged him to sign up 30 small businesses as Foursquare merchant partners within a month. He found in a little over a week. Bit by bit, Walker had been accepted by an establishment he could never have imagined accessing as a child.
This is going to be my husband! The Valley is nothing like Atlanta. In a cutthroat world like Silicon Valley, having a support system of others navigating a similar professional journey is crucial. The party is a wormhole to an undocumented dimension of the Valley. For the first time, I am witnessing a sizable, concentrated group of black technology executives. Everyone, including Walker, seems more himself or herself than they usually would be with other professionals. He also feels comfortable enough to slip back into his introversion as he pleases, observing everyone else while pecking away at stubborn hangnails.
Here is one of the most popular figures in mainstream tech, and yet not a single white person is celebrating his birthday. I cannot help asking Gauda how this could be. Gauda is chuckling away, thoroughly amused at having set me up for such an uncomfortable moment.