It is Thanksgiving week and the official start of the 2018 holiday shopping season. All this week we're partnering with the online tech reviews and news site CNET to talk about the big trends in consumer technology. This year CNET did a holiday survey asking its users what they're thinking about when it comes to tech. And this year the research bears out what the retail industry has already been saying: It's going to be a big year for shopping, especially in tech. Molly Wood talks with Lindsey Turrentine, editor-in-chief of CNET Reviews.
The data analytics company Palantir is reportedly considering going public. Palantir is the company co-founded by controversial Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, formerly of PayPal. It's named after an all-seeing artifact in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The company promises police departments, governments, even the IRS, that it can take in huge amounts of data and make artificial intelligence-informed guesses to help track down criminals and cheats, among other things. In a secret pilot program in New Orleans, Palantir tech even tried to predict when crime would happen or who might be a victim. But lately its huge $20 billion valuation is in doubt and privacy activists are concerned about its tactics. Molly Wood talks about it with Mark Harris, a reporter who's covered Palantir for Wired magazine.
Only about 1 percent of venture capital-backed startup founders are black, according to CB Insights data. Even fewer are black women or Latino. There's not a lot of age diversity and geographic diversity, and underrepresented founders don't always have access to the networks or training programs that can help them get startup funding. Mandela Dixon is a former public school teacher and startup founder, and she was a mentor for entrepreneurs at the VC firm Kapor Capital. About a year ago, she created Founder Gym, which is an online-only training program for underrepresented, would-be startup founders. Host Molly Wood talked with her at the AfroTech conference last week in San Francisco. (11/15/18)
Black millennials are tech savvy, influential and spending about a $162 billion a year, according to a 2016 Nielsen study. And yet, black people are incredibly underrepresented in tech and media. Enter Blavity, a digital lifestyle brand for millennials of color. It started in 2014 and raised $6.5 million in venture funding earlier this year. Blavity's founders say its advantage is its community members. They'll pay to come to events, and companies will pay to interact with them. Jeff Nelson is a co-founder and chief technical officer at Blavity. Marketplace Tech’s Molly Wood met him last week at one of those events, the AfroTech conference in San Francisco, which was born out of Blavity's tech news site. (11/14/18)
Justin Miller served for 11 years in the U.S. Army and deployed twice to Iraq. After being medically retired, he suffered from severe PTSD. He almost became one of the 20 military veterans and active service members who die by suicide every day. But he was saved, in part, by a serendipitous phone call from his friend Chris Mercado, a fellow vet, who helped talk him back. Now Miller and Mercado have collaborated with a team to build the app, Objective Zero, using social networking technology to make those kinds of vital connections between veterans immediate and easily accessible. We talk about it with Miller. And we hear from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Jason Owen about how the agency is developing its own apps to help veterans with their mental health. (11/09/18)