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And perhaps he will prove to those who hold the keys to the Valley’s kingdom that those coming behind him, and those who haven’t benefited from the kind of exposure he has garnered, are worthy of much more than the cursory glance they are now given. Walker’s challenge is multiplied by his unusual goal for his company. isn’t an app; it won’t make you instantly famous for kooky videos; it doesn’t even automate anything in your life. aims to be the “Procter & Gamble for people of color.” While the company is armed with Silicon Valley money and infused with Silicon Valley concepts of design and startup culture, it will try to create health and beauty products for minorities, solving problems overlooked by the reigning consumer-goods giants.
Its first product is a single-blade razor system, called 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 it lure young black men and women to Silicon Valley? Walker knows that his every move will be closely dissected, given his status.
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.
“We don’t have intentional bigots, but we have very smart, well-meaning, creative people who are systematically engaging in biased behavior.” It is racist, for example, to approach a recruiting firm with the mandate to fill an engineering position only with someone from one particular Ivy League school, where blacks comprise a single-digit percentage of the student population.By the time he left to become entrepreneur-in-residence at Andreessen Horowitz, everyone wondered, “What’s next for Tristan?” Walker’s hustle and charisma aren’t the only reasons for his fame. In Silicon Valley, even in 2014, a visible, successful African-American is big news.While he is adept at turning on the networking charm when necessary, he is not naturally at ease with such public attention.
“Man, that is not my scene,” Walker says, slowing to a red light on a desolate highway after we leave the Nas screening. ” Age: 30 Childhood home: South Jamaica Houses, Queens, New York Current home: Palo Alto Education: New York City public schools Hotchkiss School, 1998–2002 SUNY Stony Brook, 2002–2005, class valedictorian Stanford Graduate School of Business, 2008–2010, MBA Professional experience: Intern, Twitter, 2009 Director of business development, Foursquare, 2009–2012 Entrepreneur-in-residence, Andreessen Horowitz, 2012–2013 Founder and CEO, Walker & Company Brands, 2013–present Power advisers: Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz (mentor, investor) Ron Johnson, former CEO of JCPenney, SVP of retail ops at Apple (investor) Dennis Crowley, cofounder and CEO of Foursquare Charles Hudson, partner at Soft Tech VC Mark Suster, partner at Upfront Ventures (investor, confidant) Inside an appropriately hip, appropriately spare coworking space in San Francisco’s Mission District, a young Asian woman named Misa is addressing an audience assembled by Code2040, a not-for-profit Walker cofounded in 2012 with a former business-school classmate, Laura Weidman Powers.It is racist to rely on employee referrals for hires, when the typical social network of a white American is 1% black.