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Press release content from Globe Newswire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

Steve Huffman, Michele Ghee, Detavio Samuels, and More Speak at Blavity Inc.’s Inaugural ...

August 30, 2021 GMT

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 30, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Blavity Inc., the diversified digital media company behind AfroTech, 21Ninety, Travel Noire, Shadow and Act, and Blavity News, today announced the success of its inaugural AfroTech Executive conference held on Saturday, August 28, 2021 at Line Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. Notable speakers on panels fostering high-level discussions on policy and long-term change in tech and beyond 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.


“AfroTech Executive was an immense success for industry leaders in the Black tech, media, and startup industries,” said Morgan DeBaun, Founder and CEO of Blavity Inc. “Now we have to continue the difficult work of monitoring and pressuring companies to diversify leadership and progress racial equity in tech. 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 is an extension of the well-known AfroTech conference: the largest tech conference in the world for Black innovators and founders. The conference brought together corporate executives, media CEOs, venture capitalists, startup founders, investors and tech innovators for an exclusive in-person experience featuring executive conversations and intimate networking opportunities. The conference ended with a reception to celebrate the revolutionary accomplishments in the Black tech and startup community.

Event Photos:
Photo Credit: Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for AfroTech Executive/Blavity Inc.

Highlights of the event included:


  • Michele Ghee, Detavio Samuels, and Rahsan-Rahsan Lindsay had an in-depth panel discussion about the evolving topics surrounding Black media advertising, moderated by Ahmad Islam.
    • When asked what they envision for the next three years, Samuels noted that Black media is having an amazing moment - there is a collective of advertisers who are trying to show up in a big way, so Black media needs to ride this wave now, and gain as much momentum as possible before the hype around BLM dies down. Ghee said that Ebony wants to dig into the content business. “We’re not building this empire so our kids can do nothing - we’re building it so they can do something great.” Lindsay noted that now is the time to start building companies and become an entrepreneur.
    • Samuels gave a shout out to State Farm, Target, and Verizon, and Ghee to PNG, as brands who are leading by example.
    • Ghee also spoke about how important it is to get into ownership, rather than just playing the employee role. “Partnership is great, but ownership is better.”
  • Steve Huffman and Sherrell Dorsey led an important fireside chat about how Black culture and the internet interact on the Reddit platform.
    • When talking about hiring at Reddit and the issue of representation, Huffman noted “We are trying to build a product that appeals to everyone in the world, and we cannot do that without the world’s representation at our company. If we want to fulfill our mission of bringing community and belonging to everyone in the world, that starts with our company.”
    • Huffman shared that the team at Reddit is constantly thinking about speech, fairness, safety, equality, and authenticity, as these things are often in conflict. “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.”
    • One of the biggest leadership lessons Huffman has learned during this unprecedented year is that everybody has blind spots. “I don’t know everything. I can’t know everything. If I’m in conflict with somebody or they have a viewpoint that I disagree with, it can be easy to dismiss people as crazy. Instead I try to see other people’s truths -- to shut myself up and think ‘where are they right?’”
  • After Songe Laron and Dave Salvant (Squire Technologies) discussed the winning formulas for startups, and their own journey from startup to acquisition, with AfroTech Brand Manager Will Lucas, they were given a surprise 2021 Startup Founder of the Year Award by Charles Kuykendoll, Global Employment Brand & Events Manager at Stripe.

AfroTech Executive’s proud partners include Stripe and Levi Strauss & Co.®

Blavity Inc. is a venture-funded technology and news media company, founded in 2014 around a simple idea: enable Black millennials to tell their own stories. Today, we are home to the largest network of platforms and lifestyle brands serving the multifaceted lives of Black millennials & gen-z through original content, video and unique experiences. The company has grown into a market leader for Black media, reaching over 100 million millennials per month through our growing brand portfolio which includes: Blavity News, 21Ninety, AfroTech, Travel Noire, Shadow & Act, and Lunchtable.

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