Google’s Humble Beginnings

Google Inc. is a search engine company founded in America by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998.  The company, which believes that “work should be challenging and the challenge should be fun” provides a multitude of products and services for people and businesses globally.  The two founders met in 1995 at Stanford University where Page was shadowing Brin while considering whether to attend grad school at the California research institution.  Together, they built a search engine called Backrub that determined the importance of internet web pages.  Backrub eventually became Google, a word that reflects Brin and Page’s mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally assessable and useful.”

Google Inc. was officially founded in 1998 after the company caught the attention of some Silicon Valley investors who gave Page and Brin $100,000 to start the company.  The company quickly expanded, and today Google’s headquarters are located in Mountain View, California, and there are more than 70 offices in more than 50 countries worldwide.  Over 60,000 employees are employed at this multi-billion-dollar company known for its high energy and fast-paced work environment.

Rated by Forbes as the world’s second most valuable brand, Google has a multitude of products and services, though their unmatched search engine remains the heart and soul of the company.  One of Google’s success secrets is that they are a collective entrepreneurship, meaning they “allow a diverse group of people to share the risks and the rewards associated with the discovery and exploitation of new business opportunities,” according to an article on Forbes.com written by Panos Mourdoukoutas.  In this mutually beneficial exchange, viewers get valuable sought-out information, advertisers are able to reach a wide audience, and Google’s search engine is heavily used.  This is why Google is the most popular search engine on the web—their business and marketing strategies are unique and unparalleled.

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Google in Hot Water After Offensive Ads Appear

Media companies make a lot of their money through allowing companies to advertise on their sites and to their users.  Recently, The Guardian and the BBC, among other British news outlets, pulled their ads from Google and YouTube because their ads were displayed alongside those that displayed offensive content.  The Guardian reported that its ads were displayed next to white nationalists and other controversial groups.

Google uses AdX to place their ads, an automated program that uses a variety of algorithms.  British media outlets say they have high expectations of Google, and that they need to be sure they are socially responsible, since they have such a large and diverse following.  Senior Google executive, Roman Harris, admitted that Google needs to improve upon its ad content and placement.

When companies let issues like this fall through the cracks, they risk their entire business.  At a time of racially-motivated social unrest, Google needs to do everything in its power to ensure their ad space contains no offensive or racist content.  After all, Google’s advertisers keep the site going, and without the ads, Google will surely lose its spot as a media and technology giant.

Better Together: Battling Micro-aggressions at PWI’s

One form of racism people may not realize happens to Black students in predominately white schools is micro-aggression.  A micro-aggression is a term used to describe subtle discrimination against another individual, particularly a minority, in the form of a clever comment or observation.  An example of a micro-aggression is when someone makes a comment like “You’re not like other Black people” or when a white person acts surprised that a Black person can afford a big-ticket item at a retail store.  Micro-aggressions stem from harmful stereotypes that are often strongest at institutions that lack diversity among students and faculty.  When there are a small number of minority students at an institution, the opportunity for disproving stereotypes greatly diminishes.

Micro-aggressions are likely the top form of racism experienced by college-aged Black students at predominately white institutions.  In an article written by Adrianna Laforest, she explains her experiences with white students at Stetson, the predominately white institution she attends.  She explains why she prefers to be surrounded by Black peers at school: “While I was in high school, most of my friends were white. Then, when I came to college, I ended up having more black friends. I always wondered why this was. But now that I think about it, it is so much easier to transition into college when you find people who you share a lot of similarities with. People who don’t ask why you wrap your hair at night and why you don’t wash your hair every day. People who understand you because they are just like you.”

Having a similar experience at a predominately white high school, I share Adrianna’s sentiments, which is why I decided I wanted to attend an HBCU.  Many Black students thrive off of the fellowship they experience with one another at an HBCU.  It seems that we are more successful when we do not have to worry about constantly explaining and defending our Blackness while focusing on our studies at the same time.

 

 

Wealth is the Key to Success

I recently read an article written by Seth Freed Wessler in 2015 about the differences in wealth between Black and white families in America.  Wessler argues that education, job opportunities and income contribute to, but are not the root cause of inequity of Blacks in this country.  According to research, in 2011 Black graduates who were head of household had two thirds the net worth of white high school dropouts who headed a household.  From this research, Wessler concluded that jobs and education don’t make much of a difference as to why Blacks do not have nearly as much money as their white counterparts.

Wealth is key.  White families are historically more wealthy than Black families.  Statistics show that a much greater number of white families are able to transfer money to their family members than Blacks, which creates a “safety net” for them to take more career risks and focus on business ventures more than Blacks, who, without the wealth, are forced to focus on paying bills and/or caring for less financially well-off family members.  This can also be attributed to college graduation rates.  Wealthy white college students are able to focus more on their studies than non-wealthy Blacks, who may have to drop out of school due to the financial burden or work their way through school, which can make finishing classes difficult.

The structural whiteness of this country will likely not change in the near future.  Though education isn’t the core determining factor of success, Black students must receive a quality education to be able to compete and survive in this country that cares for the wealthy majority above all others.

SAAS Project Solutions

My last blog post introduced the SAAS Project, a research study done by the University of Pennsylvania on the success of Black students in predominately white schools.  In this post, I will examine the findings from the study in terms of solutions the researchers think will promote Black student success in white (independent) schools.

First, the researchers concluded from their findings that schools must recognize that each student is a unique individual and that all Black students should not be placed under one cultural umbrella.  They believe that this will help to eliminate stereotypical thinking amongst white students that lead to racism.  Yes, the students should be seen as individuals and the study shows that self-esteem, which is related to success rate, decreases when students do not feel that they are included or belong.  However, the media is the major driving force in stereotyping different groups, so this may be hard to undo, since the media makes such a large impact on students and teachers, alike.

Secondly, the researchers felt that, based on the research, the school should engage in a dialogue about racism and white power and privilege, which they feel would reduce the stress Black students feel when surrounded by a majority white student and faculty body.  Again, while, in theory, this makes sense, I wonder how effective this will be.  People must admit that there is racism happening amongst them before they can speak about it, and according to the study, many teachers and administrators reported that they did not think discrimination was a problem at their schools.  It is impossible to speak about resolving an issue when the majority perceives no issue to resolve.

The third solution the researchers proposed is one I do think will prove effective—increasing the number of Black students in the schools.  In doing this, Black students will feel that they have more of a voice and impact on the school, and their sense of community would likely increase.  I always felt that being around a familiar face makes one feel more comfortable and confident.

Lastly, researchers feel that schools should come up with organizations that would promote a sense of community among students of color.  Many schools have groups like this; a great example is the Black Student Union, which advocates for more racially diverse school programs, discussions, and is a place where Black students can comfortably come together in fellowship.

I researched and critiqued this study in order to gather intel and research strategies for my own study on the same topic.  In a future post I will describe in great detail my research method and the tools and demographic of people I will be using for my study.

 

Google “Keeps It Simple” With Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a communications service that allows members to participate in text, voice or video chats, either one-on-one or in a group.  On March 9, Google released a new version of Hangouts that has introduced the service strictly as a business communication tool.  In the past, Google’s communication efforts in terms of chat have been unimpressive and have missed the mark with consumers, as they have launched many different communications apps to introduce new features, rather than build them into an already existing app.  The result was consumers complaining about too many complicated apps to keep track of, which has scared them away from using Google as a platform all together.

To address this concern, Google will be splitting Hangouts in half—Hangouts Meet (video) and Hangouts Chat, and they both will be used primarily as business tools to make group chats and video conferences more streamline.

Streamlining services and apps is very important to today’s consumer.  The simpler something is, the better.  The most successful businesses and products have a very simple and clean platform.  Take Apple for instance.  Their phone, website, and even stores present a very clean and simple design, in terms of color, functionality and compatibility.  There was a time when people wanted everything customized.  In the days of MySpace, users like myself loved to customize the page, adding color, music, fancy fonts and graphics to express creativity.  Now, if something has that many options, users shy away.  Think about streamline features the next time you use an app or product and consider how important these features are to you and, if given more customization options, whether you would still use the product or app.

Google Scans the Environment to Stay on Top

In the past, technology giant, Google, has fallen short in the device category.  Amazon seems to have fared a lot better; for example, Amazon’s e-reader, the Kindle has had huge success.  When Amazon released their smart speaker, the Echo, consumers everywhere flocked to purchase one. The Echo, on command, plays music, shops for you, and can even control your home.  Recently, Google has followed suit and released their own smart speaker called Google Home, which is about $50 cheaper than the original Amazon device.  After reading several articles comparing the two devices, I have come to the conclusion that, if I was in the market for a smart speaker, Google Home would be a better choice, due to better voice recognition technology and a wider range of internet search options—after all, Google is the best when it comes to search engine optimization.  Google Home has only been on the market for a few months, so time will have to be the determining factor in whether consumers prefer this device over the Echo.

In today’s fast-paced technological world, it is extremely important that companies scan the environment for consumer trends so they can be one of the first to carry the “next big thing”.  Google did just that with Google Home.  In desperate need of launching a popular device among consumers, Google hit the mark with the Echo in terms of price point and functionality.  Because Google is the leader in the area of search engines and already have several apps that can be applied to the Google Home platform, developing this device in response to the Echo was a no-brainer.  This is a great example of how technology companies and content creators can stay at the forefront of the market; by searching for and seizing opportunities in the marketplace.  Kudos to Google for their quick response to one of the new trends among consumers.