It is a lovely thing to find your passion, cultivate it and see where it takes you. For some professionals, the passion leads them down one particular course which has them honing greater adeptness in that area while others have multiple interests that are cultivated. On January 18, 2019 at BetaWorks, T.I. (nee Clifford J. Harris, Jr.) used that venue to announce the launch of Tech Cypha, an investment syndicate. Tech Cypha is focused on investing into Culture Genesis, which is a Los Angeles-based digital studio producing live streaming and apps.
It seems to be a good bet given that consumer research reveals that African-American and Latino teens and adults rely on their mobile devices to access entertainment. This is quite heady and sophisticated operations that T.I. and company ought to be commended for. Who is in his company? Film and record producer Jason Geter is. T.I. and Jason are focused on incubating tech start-ups. The full panel that had so many people pack the room included T.I., Jason Geter, Cedric Rogers, Shaun Newsome, Melvin Gregg and Andrew McCaskill.
Cedric Rogers, a graduate of Emory University and Goizueta Business School, describes himself as a tech entrepreneur and investor. He currently is involved in Culture Genesis, Mucker Capital, a seed stage venture fund, and Looklive, Inc., a premier online fashion outlet for men and women. Shaun Newsome is involved in crypto currency and keeping that environment stable and viable. There is so much worthless crypto currency. It pays to study each for its true viability and utility.
Newsome co-created a game show app called Trivia Mob with Cedric Rogers. It is somewhat of a group effort Jeopardy. The subject categories include art, history, entertainment and science. Newsome and Rogers say the game is inspired by BET’s 106 & Park. Melvin Gregg, who is also involved in Culture Genesis, is an actor with an extensive C.V. He has 3 million followers on Instagram. As the saying goes, he is doing his part in moving the culture. Andrew McCaskill is the Senior Vice President of Global Communications & Multicultural Marketing at Neilsen and board member of the Public Relations Society of America.
This event was dubbed “Bringing Culture to Tech,” which could be hard for some to wrap their heads around. It begs answering, What culture is being referred to? Is it Google culture? Is it inner-city culture? Is it Southern culture? Or is it the culture of the Black elite? Cedric Rogers’ Looklive, Inc. carries high-quality, top-drawer merchandise. If bringing culture to tech means getting more apps, widgets and code created by people of color, then the public needs more culture. Java can’t have all the fun.
T.I. did very well to organize this event. He asked, “Why is it only a handful of us? Because it takes money and we don’t have it. Ain’t nobody coming to sponsor us.” He’s evolved from a rapper to a businessman to be reckoned with. Fortunately, he married a woman, Tameka Cottle, who is involved in technology. Tameka has invested in T.I.’s ventures.
The greater part of the event was the men discussing either how they got involved in technology or who were the influencers in their early years. Cedric Rogers explained how he connected with “young guys with talent and giving them grooming.” He refocused his nephew’s career path from music to coding. He said, “If you can write music, you can write code.” Rogers did this because he thought his nephew’s talent lied elsewhere. Further, Rogers wants to see more Black people in technology. “I spent more than 15 years in technology and rarely saw another Black person.”
Jason Geter recollected how someone from A & R Records came to his high school. Geter aspired to be a musical talent but his father explained that Jason was not that good to make it to headliner level. This blunt opinion helped to refocus his talents. Shaun Newsome extolled the entrepreneurial opportunities. “Anyone who worked for me, I encouraged him to move on to grow his own business.” Apparently, Geter stays in the black. Between writing code and doing quality assurance, he says, “No developers ever get laid off.”
Andrew McCaskill opined, “There is no better time than now for Black entrepreneurs. African-American culture sits at the epicenter of American pop culture. Who better than us to monetize and invest in what comes naturally to us? Support people who are moving from consuming to producing. People are beginning to move from being conscious consumers.” Melvin Gregg, who is involved with Culture Genesis, directs people to “get in front of it.” He asserted that he is moving the culture and investing in technology is how to move the culture.