Alicia Sheares

Navigating Inequality: Black Tech Entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley and Atlanta

This dissertation explores the experiences of Black technology founders in Silicon Valley and Atlanta. Geography matters because it effects access to institutional and organizational resources, and social networks. Silicon Valley receives the largest proportion of all venture capital dollars but the region struggles with racial diversity, as Blacks make up just six percent of the population. Conversely, Atlanta receives much fewer venture capital dollars and is a majority Black city. I hypothesize that differences will arise between how Black tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and Atlanta network, fundraise, and navigate entrepreneurship. To answer my research question, I will interview Black tech entrepreneurs and investors, gather media archival data, and conduct participant observation at tech meetups and pitch competitions to get a holistic understanding of tech entrepreneurial spaces. My research has important implications. The racial disparities that exist in tech mean that some racial groups have access to shape the future of political, cultural, social, and economic life, while other underrepresented racial groups are excluded altogether. Understanding how Blacks navigate through racial barriers, particularly in the technology space, will shed light on the mechanisms that can facilitate a more equitable future.