Michele Ghee, Detavio Samuels talk Black entrepreneurship at AfroTech Executive conference

The event was well-attended and featured some of the biggest Black names in tech, corporate America, and more.

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Blavity Inc., the brand behind popular sites including AfroTech, 21Ninety, Travel Noire, Shadow and Act, and Blavity News, held its first-ever AfroTech Executive conference held on Saturday, August 28 at the Line Hotel in Los Angeles.

Notable speakers included Steve Huffman (CEO of Reddit), Michele Ghee (CEO of Ebony & Jet), Detavio Samuels (CEO of REVOLT), Sherrell Dorsey (Founder & CEO of The Plug), Songe Laron (Co-Founder & CEO of Squire Technologies), Dave Salvant (Founder & President of Squire Technologies), Ahmad Islam (CEO of TEN35), Rahsan-Rahsan Lindsay (CEO of MediaCo Holding, Inc.), Will Lucas (Founder & CEO of Creadio; Brand Manager at AfroTech & Black Tech Green Money), and more.

Morgan DeBaun, Founder and CEO of Blavity Inc., gushed over the success of the event in an official press release.

“AfroTech Executive was an immense success for industry leaders in the Black tech, media, and startup industries. Now we have to continue the difficult work of monitoring and pressuring companies to diversify leadership and progress racial equity in tech,” she noted.

“By encouraging high-level discussions between decision-makers about policy and long-term change, we are committed to rising to the challenge and holding companies accountable. We’ve come a long way, but need to work together, keep engaging, and continue pushing for a more equitable future.”

AfroTech Executive 2021
(Credit: Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Blavity Inc/AfroTech)

According to the press release, the event is an extension of the AfroTech conference, which is currently the largest tech conference in the world for Black techies and entrepreneurs. The AfroTech Executive merged corporate executives, media CEOs, venture capitalists, startup founders, investors, and tech innovators for a once-in-a-lifetime in-person experience to drive community and networking. A celebratory reception immediately followed the conference.

Ghee, Samuels, and Lindsay spoke specifically on the necessity and ever-changing landscape of Black media. Samuels says that Black media is at its prime and advertisers are tuned in and ready to invest, noting it’s important to rise to the occasion while the button is hot.

Ghee says Ebony wants a stake in the content business, noting, “We’re not building this empire so our kids can do nothing – we’re building it so they can do something great.” 

Huffman and Dorsey led a discussion on how Black culture and the internet interact via Reddit. For Huffman, it’s about the intersectionality of freedom of speech yet speaking with responsibility in our culture, noting: “The promise of the internet is that people can connect around the world, which is incredibly powerful. Executives at Reddit meet regularly with moderators of their Black communities to get specific examples of challenges and come up with specific solutions.”

Laron and Salvant spoke on the winning formulas for startups, sharing their own journey to success with their company before being given a surprise 2021 Startup Founder of the Year Award by Charles Kuykendoll, Global Employment Brand & Events Manager at Stripe.

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