Jarvus Bringing in Public School Grads from Philly

Doug MacFaddin Jarvus
Tech companies are working round the clock to hire qualified applicants to keep up with demand. They need qualified applicants who can learn things quickly and work in a fast paced environment. To do this, some companies are using unusual methods of hiring staff and bringing in fresh talent. The development firm Jarvus is getting their talent directly from the Philadelphia public school system by training and then hiring recent grads to become the next tech savvy generation.

This was a great opportunity for high school grad, Nafis Bey who is now an IT apprentice to a software engineer at the firm. Bey didn’t want to college and Jarvus offered him a unique opportunity to learn a very valuable set of skills that will pay a great competitive wage and would give him on the job training rather than four years in a classroom. In his apprenticeship, Bey learned how to fix computers and to code. As he was training he worked at the Science Leadership Academy as a tech specialist. After he finished his apprenticeship, Bey was offered a full time position as an engineer at a web development firm. The apprentice program is known as the Urban Technology Project and is integrated into the public schools through Jarvus Innovations, as part of the development shop. This partnership has allowed Jarvus to fill their need for employees by connecting with public schools, utilizing a local apprenticeship program to train students, and eventually hired some of the best performing students in the program, even though they were not college graduates.

Through this program the schools are also being improved. For example, Bey created the position of technology manager at his school because he saw the need and he had the skills. He thought it was important to give back to his school community. Those are the kinds of inspiring stories that come out of the Urban Technology Project and it also shows great promise for how tech companies can increase and strengthen their work force.

Donald Sterling and the Los Angeles Clippers: Where Do We Go From Here?

The Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling has confirmed what many thought about him for years. He is a racist. This confirmation came after remarks he made to his girlfriend, Ms. Stiviano, the audio of which was released by TMZ on Friday. Note that he has a known girlfriend, Stiviano, even though he has a supportive wife, Rochelle, who is always by his side at games. This just adds to the track record of Sterling’s seedy character. It was no secret that Sterling was a racist, but for many years he has kept his thoughts and feeling on a low profile. The last, very public, incident of his racism was in 2009 when he had to pay $2.725 million in settlement money for discriminating against African-American and Latino families in apartment buildings that he owned around the Los Angeles area. After that case he started to keep more of a low profile about his feelings towards minorities, until the release of this ugly audiotape.

The release of the audio has had an effect on the team who have had to answer to angry fans. They are as upset as the fans are and have stressed that they don’t play for the team’s owner, but for the team. The Clippers coach, Doc Rivers is livid and said he only returned to the team because he thought the situation with Sterling had changed. He is so upset about the audio that TMZ released that Rivers is considering breaking his three-year, $21 million contract with the Clippers. First, Rivers said he needs to speak with Sterling and clear things up before making a decision, ending with “I’m just going to leave it at that.” Rivers knew that the team was and continues to be really upset and arranged a meeting with them so that they could all vent and voice concerns before they went back to the court to practice. It is unclear who will stay and who might go, but Sterling has definitely had a negative effect on the Clippers.

Will Student Athletes Benefit Financially from Unions?

Doug MacFaddinUniversities have long exploited student athletes; they mine the kids for their talent and then push them through their degree while not giving them the opportunity to learn, in many cases. Additionally, most recruited student athletes come from poor homes, placing them in the center of a multibillion dollar industry in which they get no piece of the pie. This was very clearly demonstrated with the UConn point guard Shabaaz Napier after his team won the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. He was in the center of the glitz and glamour, surrounded by media, fans and cameras. The irony is just a few weeks before he had told reports, “I don’t feel student-athletes should get hundreds of thousands of dollars, but like I said, there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I’m starving.”

Napier made this remark when asked about the Northwestern Wildcats and the Chicago Football team’s attempt to unionize. The athletes at Northwestern filed with the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board in order to form and union and to gain legal status of University employees. They won the latter victory and the athletes will vote whether to unionize later this April. Their first goal with union power is to allow student athletes to keep athletic scholarship if they get injured. This way they can stay in school and they still have a future. It seems only fair since the sport, which they play for the school most likely, will have caused such and injury. Farther down the line the players are thinking about trying to get a cut of the money the school rakes in from advertising revenue for the game. The problem with student athletes being paid is that it directly violates the NCAA sanctions and if they do get money, Northwestern would lose eligibility.

There are other hurtles to overcome. Although the team was able to pass their employee status, Northwestern is appealing the NLRB’s decision. Next it will go to a panel in Washington D.C. for review. Many in the legal department think that unionization will pass but whether students are employees and that is why they should unionize is a controversial debate and will most likely make its way up to Federal Court. This debate is starting in Northwestern and may spread to a few other schools, but that alone will not take down the NCAA. However, it is putting the idea into student athlete’s heads all over the country that they are not being treated fairly. If that idea starts to spread, according to Tim Waters, the political director for the United Steelworkers union, “Their whole empire is starting to crumble.”

Silicon Valley Charity Doesn’t Cut It

Doug MacFaddin Silicon Valley Charity Doesn’t Cut ItRecently the leaders in the tech industry met in San Francisco’s silicon valley for TechCrunch’s seventh Annual Crunchies Awards. Inside the room was filled with CEO’s from major companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook, while the sidewalk outside was filled with protestors. Those holding the signs were there because of the result of the booming tech industry: gentrification and displacement.

The rise of Silicon Valley has gentrified many areas, raising rent rates and forcing middle-class working families out of their homes. As if to add insult to injury, Twitter negotiated tax breaks with the local government after threatening to take their business out of San Francisco. The result was a group of unhappy, hard working Americans protesting the Crunchies Awards and asking for help.

Silicon Valley has responded with a few CEO’s starting charities. Some, like investor Ron Conway, are even working with the major to find solutions and to use the leverage of the tech industry for good. It may be that the only reason the tech company is taking action on this issue is because of the protests and an effort to improve their image.

The protests have pointed out that the charity the tech industry has attempted to put together is not enough. Some measures are as backhanded as Spotify, the music playing service that promised to “pay for employees to attend local performances including concerts, theater, dance, or performance art shows” in an effort to help the community.

Because of the tech boom rental rates have risen 72 percent since 2011 and the instances of no-fault evictions have doubled in the past year. Some protestors want to see the tech industry pay for affordable housing, free public transportation and community parks.

The tech industry may not clearly see the large impact they have had on the San Francisco community. It is pretty clear that they are not doing enough to mitigate the damage they’ve caused to working class families.

Microsoft is Not Thrilled About the Three New Android Phones

1200-nokia-x-unveil_nokia-press-conference-24th-february-2014-24Nokia has now officially announced three new Android phones under their Nokia X line. This will be a departure from their previously Microsoft heavy operating systems. The move is particularly stunning because Microsoft is in the middle of a $7.2 billion deal to buy Nokia’s phone and tablet business.

When Microsoft heard about Nokia’s Android phone, an insider with the company called the move “embarrassing.” On Nokia’s Android ambitions, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Windows stated, “They’ll do some things we’re excited about, and some things we’re less excited about.”

These new Nokia/Android phones are different than traditionally Android phones. They do not have any Google services (like maps, mail, etc.) and they run on extremely modified software. They use Microsoft services and will have a separate app store for Android apps. Nokia’s former CEO is hoping that these Nokia X phones will serve as a gateway for consumers to upgrade to Microsoft phones in the long run. They are currently targeting the emerging markets with these phone options. The problem with this logic is that Nokia already makes an affordable Microsoft phone for less than $100, the Nokia Lumina.

It stands to be seen if Microsoft will keep these Nokia X phones around once they are in possession of the company.