In Honor of Black History Month, Here Are the Top Figures to Watch in Tech

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Who are the noteworthy Black figures in the tech industry? It seems that when we think of tech leaders, we’re clouded by a mirage of only the mainstream white names like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Tim Cook of Apple, Satya Nadella of Microsoft or Elon Musk of Tesla. What about the Black individuals in the industry who have given their years to revolutionize the way we interact with our technology today?

In the spirit of Black History Month this year, let’s take a look at the top 5 Black individuals in the tech industry who have made momentous contributions to the current state of technology and are arguably ones to watch for the foreseeable future.

Jessica O. Matthews: CEO of Unchartered Power

Image: Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center

Soccket is perhaps one of the most exciting developments in power technology. It is a soccer ball that charges from the energy harnessed through play. Every kick, toss, pass, or shot of this soccer ball stores the kinetic energy of motion in a form usable later as a power source. Guess who is responsible for this outstanding gadget? It is a product of Unchartered Power led by CEO Jessica O. Matthews.

Matthews is a Nigerian-American inventor and entrepreneur who has been driven by her passion to create life solutions for the African Continent. Faced by frequent black outs and stand stills, one of the most pressing issues in the lesser developed areas of the continent is the lack of energy needed to sustain everyday life. Matthews started her ventures in hopes of creating stable and feasible power sources that could be used in such areas to better the standard of living and the flow of routine life. Years on from the founding, Unchartered Power has morphed into a leading solutions provider which not only specializes in cutting-edge power solutions but also reformed data solutions as well as the IoT.

The most prominent developments coming out of Unchartered Power are its range of kinetic-energy generating and harnessing vehicles and pulse devices. The most renewable and easily accessible form of energy is the energy that we expel in the daily tasks that we do. The hardest part has always been to find ways to convert it into enough usable energy to power our own lives. Matthews and Unchartered Power have put their head in the game to figure out just this exactly. These developments come years ahead of their time which makes the company one to watch as it may very much shape the future of the energy that we use.

Chris Young: President & CEO of McAffee L.L.C

Image: Fortune

With advancing technological architectures and greater integration of our lives through the IoT, there comes a demand for heightened security measures as most of our valuables and assets are integrated into the technology that we use. With increasing measures taken to protect this privacy of information, there come cunning ways and individuals who are giving it their all to outsmart the protection measures that we take. One man out there is presiding the efforts to maintain your faith in technology. u safeguarding you from the malicious hackers out there; he is responsible for the leading malware combatant solution that protects most of our computer devices in the day and age of rapidly evolving and increasingly dangerous mining viruses. This man is the Chief Executive Officer of McAffee L.L.C, Chris Young.

Young came aboard the Intel Corp in 2014 and immediately worked to spin off McAffee as an independent cybersecurity solution. With over 400 million users and 10 Fortune 100 Companies as clients, this spin off could not have been a better idea as McAffee now independently and clearly works to secure the technology that we use both on and off the internet from the malintented mafia working diligently on organized crime in the tech domain. An effort that was once restricted to only intel’s processing chips is now a borderless mission to protect the things that matter as we enter deeper into the realm of integrated IoT and automation.

David L. Steward: Chairman of World Wide Technology

Image: St. Louis American

What started out as a small reselling business with less than 10 employees in 1990 has now become a multi billion dollar corporation with over 4000 individuals on board, making it one of the largest Black owned organizations in America. Word Wide Technology is one of the most fierce and steadfast tech giants in the United States which has secured its value and worth through strategic alliances with renowned tech firms such as Microsoft, Dell, and Hewlett Packard Enterprises. The man responsible for building this small back door business into a technological giant is David L. Steward, whose risks, investments, and decisions have allowed the company to soar above the market.

World Wide Technology is a Silicon-Valley company. It focuses on supply chain technology with secure and digital cloud-based solutions, specifically for businesses in the commercial and telecom industries. That’s a long way on from reselling some small gadgets in your garage. Steward is a billion-dollar mind to be reckoned with.

Aicha S. Evans: Senior Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer at the Intel Corporation

Image: AnandTech

An influential executive at one of the world’s biggest technology manufacturers, Aicah S. Evans has contributed to the company by shifting gears from a heavily PC oriented vision to one that is more concerned with data. This move was key for the company to keep up with the times where existing hardware has reached a relative saturation point and the software solutions are the high demand of the IoT movement.

The expertise in this regard comes out of her experience in the Wi-Fi ventures of Intel, accelerating them to create an environment wholly accepting of emerging wireless technologies. She served on the Wireless Platform Research and Development and has since targeted her efforts to bring her learning to reform the corporation as a whole. Evans has also been the Chief Strategy Officer at Intel, carrying out her duties impeccably to keep Intel at the top of its game. Working as such an integral part of the decisions made at Intel, Evans secures her position as one of the most influential figures in the tech industry, maintaining say over the future of the Intel corporation as well as the general shape that technology will take over the years to come.

Ralph A. Clark: President & CEO of ShotSpotter Inc.

Image: The Verge

Gun Violence has been the center of debate between Presidential candidates, policy makers, and local representatives. It’s an issue that yields mixed views but the predominance of gun violence is a fact that is unquestionable.  Ralph A. Clark and ShotSpotter Inc. have revolutionized the technology used to conduct gunshot forensics, contributions which have clearly suppressed gun violence far below its potential. Clark’s efforts at ShotSpotter Inc. have turned it into the world’s leading firm specializing in gunshot detection.

Beyond the post analysis of gun related offences, Clark has recently acquired HunchLab technology from Azavea which he intends to use for preventive analysis which includes modelling the risk of such violent occurrences as well as the use of accelerated AI to predict when and where such instances may take place so that law enforcement agencies can be one step ahead of the culprit.

A massive leap for ShotSpotter Inc, but this is nothing new for Clark who has been doing this for over 3 decades. He was previously CEO of Guardian Edge Technologies Inc, and CFO at Smart Appliances Inc. In the former position he ramped up the company’s influence in the industry by turning it into a frontrunner in data safeguarding, eventually letting the company merge into Symantec, that too for business excellence. In the latter he worked with several startups and earned them solid positions in the market.

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