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Andreessen Horowitz launches $2.2M fund to invest in underserved founders

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Andreessen Horowitz announced today in a blog post that it is launching a fund designed to invest in underrepresented and underserved founders.

The Talent x Opportunity (TxO) fund, which a16z says was in the works for six months, starts with $2.2 million in donations from the firm’s partners. TxO will be invested in a small group of seed-stage startups the first year and expand in size going forward.

“We are looking for entrepreneurs who did not have access to the fast track in life but who have great potential. Their products can be non-tech or tech; they should be from underserved communities (all backgrounds welcome); and ideally, their business will have an interesting model, niche market, and/or a little traction to indicate the promise and potential,” the firm wrote in the post.

A16z says the goal of TxO is to be “much like an accelerator for the unseen, where the outcome is to go get VC money,” and will provide entrepreneurs with networks and training programs. The firm did not comment on whether it will invest in startup follow-on rounds.

A16z has $12 billion in assets under management across its funds, so a $2.2 million fund is not groundbreaking from a monetary perspective, but TxO is notable because of the way the firm wants to invest it.

The firm will invest the donation-based fund in exchange for equity in the businesses. Any returns will remain in the fund to finance future entrepreneurs.

The launch of TxO comes in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the subsequent police violence during protests throughout the country over the last week.

Others in the venture capital community have rushed to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, after days of protest. SoftBank, which had a racist controversy lately through one of its portfolio companies, launched a $100 million opportunity growth fund this week to invest in founders of color.

Black entrepreneurs and investors, who have been investing in diverse entrepreneurs day in and day out, are dubious of the flood of reactions from others, given the fact that the venture capital industry has been slow to change in the face of inequality.

Many say that it should not take the deaths of countless Black men and women for the tech community to change the way they invest in diverse entrepreneurs. The rush for initiatives thus can look more opportunistic than well-intentioned.

Fundamentally, the broader venture capital community needs to do two things: hire the people and wire the investment.

“It’s not complicated: Invest in Black founders. You don’t have to invest in ALL Black founders. You can keep your thesis and yes even your so-called ‘standards’ and find multiple Black founders to invest in,” Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital wrote to TechCrunch on Tuesday. “If you need help, I have 130 portfolio companies + I can introduce you to a curated list of a dozen Black investors to hire.”

Some firms are brainstorming pre-seed investment funds targeted for companies led by black founders. One firm, which declined to comment because the efforts are still too early in the planning stage, said the fund could focus exclusively on companies coming from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

A16z itself declined to share how it will source companies, and instead pointed to its blog post. In the post, the firm said that it has spent the past six months finding the “names on hidden genius founders you would not see in Silicon Valley.”

But the firm’s sourcing strategy is imperative to how successful it is in the fund’s goal to invest in more diverse entrepreneurs. Networks in venture capital are largely male and white, so specific pipelines are needed. Will it source from HBCUs? Will it attend Black tech conferences to find talent? Will it co-invest with Black-led firms like Cleo Capital, Backstage Capital, Precursor Ventures or Harlem Capital?

The answers to these questions will be imperative in understanding how the firm can support founders beyond a check.

The TxO fund will be led by Naithan Jones, who has been with the firm for five years. Jones was plucked by Ben Horowitz, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, who had invested in his seed-stage company, AgLocal. In a blog post from 2017, Jones detailed what the conversation looked like.

“Ben was calling to find out if I’d be interested in working at one of the a16z portfolio companies or at a16z itself. I was shocked, stunned. The last thing I expected was for them to call me and see if I wanted a job. It turned out that as I was running my company into bankruptcy, the firm was getting to know me. They saw skills and talents that they believed they and their network could use. They looked into the real me. They didn’t see ‘black, no college degree, outsider.’ They saw Nait Jones.”

A16z has made dedicated monetary efforts to fund Black entrepreneurs previously. In 2018, the firm launched a Cultural Leadership Fund. The fund, which has an undisclosed size, was created with high-profile limited partners, including Will and Jada Smith, Chance the Rapper, Kevin Durant, Nasir Jones and Shellye Archambeau. The Cultural Leadership Fund donates all of its annual management fees to nonprofits that advance more African Americans into tech.

The TxO fund is different because, unlike CLF, it will not deliver returns to LPs. Any returns will go back into the fund to reinvest.

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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Hawaii Tech Company MobileGrindz Offers Restaurants an Alternative to Food Service Tech Platforms

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MobileGrindz offers enhanced benefits and lower cost than other food ordering platforms

Honolulu, Aug 2, 2020 – MobileGrindz, a Hawaii based Technology company, has announced the upcoming debut of their foodservice platform that aims to redefine the way food ordering systems and restaurants work together. This venture, spearheaded by Hawaii Local and Black Entrepreneur Lyron Foster, aims to bring additional job opportunities to Hawaii.

With food delivery apps continuing to gain popularity – more than 20% of smartphone users are expected to use food delivery apps by 2021 – restaurants are looking for better ways to offer such services while also boosting their bottom line. 

Many food ordering platforms charge restaurants up to 20% of their orders, which tends to undercut sales severely and adversely affect restaurants. MobileGrindz wants to offer a better solution for restaurants. With their platform, a flat technology fee is charged per month instead of a percentage of sales. This fee structure intends to help businesses better control their costs, make more money, and remain competitive. 

The MobileGrindz team isn’t stopping there. They are working to help restaurants earn more sales in general. One way they are doing this is by offering completely custom and free mobile apps for iOS and Android. This will allow restaurants’ customers to place orders and track their deliveries seamlessly.

Unlike most competitors on the market today, MobileGrindz will offer native apps for restaurants that will let them set up geo-based triggers for promotions that target foot traffic. In addition, this will allow restaurants to offer push notifications which restaurants can utilize to keep their customers informed of special offers and discounts. 

MobileGrindz will also eliminate third party funds disbursements by integrating third-party payment gateways, including Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, and others. The inclusion of additional payment gateways will allow restaurants to easily process payments independently and receive revenue more quickly.

The MobileGrindz team says that they will begin on-boarding early adoption users in mid-August, with a general launch of the platform slated for September 1, 2020.

More information can be found at https://www.mobilegrindz.com/

About MobileGrindz

MobileGrindz offers a cost-effective alternative to food ordering platforms for restaurants, helping them better promote their businesses while saving money. 

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Lyron Foster, CEO

MobileGrindz

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Twitter: mobilegrindz

Website: https://www.mobilegrindz.com/ 

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Lyron Foster*****@lyronfoster.com

Source : MobileGrindz LLCCategories : Business , Food , Mobile , Restaurants , RetailTags : COVID19 , Restaurants , Food , Delivery , Mobile Order , Food Service , Food Delivery , MobileGrindz , Hawaii , Lyron Foster

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Being a Black Entrepreneur in the United States. Learn lessons from Lyron Foster

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Lyron Foster
Lyron has encountered discrimination and other business setbacks. But with determination, successful entrepreneurship in the United States is possible.

Lyron Foster is a very determined and prolific entrepeneur. Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t as easy as one thinks it to be. The journey is full of many challenges, roadblocks, hurdles, and can even turn into failures. However, people who are determined enough, overcome these challenges and establish themselves as entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs create new business while bearing most of the risks and enjoying the rewards, at the same time. Such people innovate as they become a source of new ideas, goods, services, and business procedures. Entrepreneurs play a key role in the economy where they use their skills to bring new ideas into the market. If their ideas are successful, they are awarded profits, fame, and continued growth opportunities. Lyron Foster is one such successful entrepreneur who has made a name for himself in the business world. He is the CEO of Code Armada, along with 87 other technology brands across 4 countries. He was also the co-founder/CTO of Hostgator.com. He is a renowned serial entrepreneur, author, investor, coder, and technologist.

Lyron had always been interested in technology. According to his family, he had always possessed a natural aptitude for it. He started programming at the age of 12 and started experimenting with Slackware Linux at the age of 13. Over the years, he mastered the skills required to become a technologist. He was only 21 years old when he got his first real “technology” job at BurstNet working as a Linux Engineer. Soon he emerged as a successful technologist, having mastered all the skills. His passion for technology remained constant throughout his life.

Apart from being a successful technologist, Lyron is largely known for his serial entrepreneurship. As a serial entrepreneur, Lyron is continuously coming up with new ideas and starting new businesses. A serial entrepreneur often comes up with an idea and works on setting things up. Once things get started, they give the responsibility to someone else and move on to a new idea and a new venture. Throughout his career, some of the most memorable experiences had to be focused on his business failures and successes. He has often been lucky enough to found or co-found some of the most amazing ventures, such as Code Armada and Hostgator.  However, he has also had the misfortune of experiencing multiple business failures first hand. But Lyron never let this get to him as he learned from his mistakes and always performed better later on. He has learned lots from both his successes and failures. To this date, he has founded or co-founded over 87 businesses across 4 countries.

Despite experiencing multiple business failures, Lyron Foster has never given up and continues to thrive. His peerless determination rivals that of some of the biggest names in business.

One of his most successful business has been HostGator. HostGator was founded in a dorm room at Florida Atlantic University. HostGator has now grown into a leading provider of Shared, Reseller, VPS, and Dedicated web hosting. It is headquartered in Houston and Austin, Texas, with several international offices throughout the globe. Whether you are looking for a personal website hosting plan or a business website hosting plan, HostGator is the perfect solution for it. Their powerful website hosting services do not only help people achieve their overall website goals, but also provides them with the confidence they need in knowing that they have been with a reliable and secure website hosting platform. HostGator is the easiest website hosting platforms to use where Lyron served as the CTO for HostGator.

Currently, Lyron has extended his services to Code Armada, where he serves as the CEO of the company. The Code Armada is a leading US Based Technology Services & Staffing Solutions provider. They train and nurture the world’s top IT talent and then put them to work for businesses around the globe. Lyron has been successfully provided IT talent to the world.

Despite being such a busy man, Lyron finds time for his personal life as he showcases it on his Instagram. He can be seen sharing pictures of his delicious food, his friends and family, and his adventures around town.

For more information, people can follow him on Twitter at @LyronFoster or on Instagram at @lfoster96720.

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Exploiting wormable flaw on unpatched Windows devices is about to get easier

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Exploiting wormable flaw on unpatched Windows devices is about to get easier

Enlarge (credit: Windows)

A researcher has published exploit code for a Microsoft Windows vulnerability that, when left unpatched, has the potential to spread from computer to computer with no user interaction.

So-called wormable security flaws are among the most severe, because the exploit of one vulnerable computer can start a chain reaction that rapidly spreads to hundreds of thousands, millions, or tens of millions of other vulnerable machines. The WannaCry and NotPetya exploits of 2017, which caused worldwide losses in the billions and tens of billions of dollars respectively, owe their success to CVE-2017-0144, the tracking number for an earlier wormable Windows vulnerability.

Also key to the destruction was reliable code developed by and later stolen from the National Security Agency and finally published online. Microsoft patched the flaw in March 2017, two months before the first exploit took hold.

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