Michelai Graham


Michelai Graham

Michelai Graham is a freelance business and technology reporter. She completed her M.A. in journalism and public affairs with an investigative journalism focus in July 2018. Graham mainly reports on tech, startups, entrepreneurship, and trends.

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Snoop Dogg, Bored Ape Yacht Club, Nyla Hayes, Here Are 10 NFT Projects We've Had Our Eyes On

The rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the metaverse are some of the biggest tech phenomenons of the year, and quite arguably some of the most notable innovations since the internet hit society. People may still be coming to terms with what NFTs are, but put more simply, NFTS are blockchain-backed certificates that guarantee the authenticity of a piece of digital media. Look what Jack Dorsey did with his first tweet, which sold as an NFT for $2.9 million. But NFT ownership doesn’t just belong to the big spenders — learn how to mint your first NFT in this recent story Afrotech published. Some experts have also expressed skepticism about the rise and sustainability of NFTs, but for now, they seem promising. As the year winds down and the NFT craze continues to consume the tech industry, check out these NFT collections and projects we’ve been watching.

Dec 13, 2021

Meet Raymond Jones, A StockX Sneaker Authenticator Who's Ensuring Your Jordans Are Verified

Nike’s Air Jordan 16 Retro “Countdown Pack” sneakers and the adidas Yeezy Boost 350 Pirate Blacks are a few favorite sneakers you can find in this StockX sneaker authenticator’s closet. Raymond Jones is a level two sneaker authenticator at StockX, curator of a marketplace for apparel and accessories. The company is most notable for its sneaker resell program, and the primary aspect of its authentication process is making sure products are authentic. AfroTech previously reported that StockX has a global team of more than 300 authenticators across 11 authentication locations with a 99.95 percent accuracy rate. Photo Credit: Jeff Kowalsky Fashion was a big part of Jones’ upbringing and one of the reasons why he’s always dreamed of becoming a sneaker authenticator. He recalls being in high school and seeing all his peers apply for jobs at Foot Locker and similar stores so they could be the first to get their hands on the latest Jordans. Jones has been working for StockX since last...

Dec 10, 2021

StockX Appoints Robin Washington To Its Board, 'As A Detroit Native, I've Long Been Inspired By StockX'

StockX has appointed Robin Washington as its new audit committee chair, the company shared in a press release. Detroit-based StockX is known for its online marketplace featuring luxury sneakers, apparel and accessories, electronics, collectibles, and trading cards. The five-year-old company, which only allows sellers to list new items in original packaging, also has a rigorous authentication process to ensure products are real. Washington joins StockX’s board with a wealth of experience advising tech and life science companies. In her new role, she’ll advise its leaders as StockX plans for international expansion and diversifying its catalog. “Robin is a proven and dynamic leader, with deep experience as an operator and board member at some of the leading global organizations of our time. Today, we’re thrilled to welcome her to the StockX board as the Chair of our Audit Committee,” StockX CEO Scott Cutler said in a statement . “Robin’s perspective will be invaluable to our...

Dec 8, 2021

Virtual Trucking Carrier CloudTrucks Raises $115M Series B, Reportedly Increasing Its Valuation To $850M

Virtual trucking carrier CloudTrucks has secured a $115 million Series B funding round on a reported $850 million valuation, according to Forbes. The Black-owned company was founded in 2019 by Tobenna Arodiogbu, Jin Shieh and George Ezenna. CloudTrucks provides a tech platform that helps small trucking businesses manage their administrative duties, including scheduling, instant payments, expense tracking and more. The startup plans to use the fresh funding to expand its operations across the U.S., grow its team and further build out its proprietary tech. “Nearly every sector of the economy relies on drivers to transport its goods, and we are eager to use this latest round of funding to continue optimizing the trucking business—especially as our country needs new truck drivers more than ever,” Arodiogbu, CloudTrucks Co-founder and CEO, said in a press release.

Dec 1, 2021

All Star Code Receives A $500K Grant From Nike This #GivingTuesday

It’s #GivingTuesday 2021, and Nike has awarded All Star Code with a $500,000 grant. The leading computer science nonprofit, also known as ASC, reported in a press release provided to AfroTech that this is the largest single donation it has received since its founding in 2013. The organization plans to use the grant award to scale its web development and leadership training programs for young minority men. “Addressing systemic racism in America requires urgent action and sustained engagement – and Nike is committed to both,” All Star Code Executive director Danny Rojas said in a press release. “We are so proud to be a part of this commitment and thankful to Nike for their fervent support.” ASC runs a free, six-week education program over the summer that’s supported by leading tech companies including Google and AT&T. The generous gift is part of Nike’s Black Community Commitment, which focuses on supporting organizations that center their work on social justice, education and...

Nov 30, 2021

Jay-Z-Backed The Parent Company Names Tiffany McBride As The Managing Director Of Social Equity Ventures

The Parent Company — a publicly traded U.S. cannabis organization backed by Jay-Z — is on a mission to make the cannabis industry more diverse, inclusive and equitable. Aligning with this, the company has hired Tiffany McBride as its new managing director of Social Equity Ventures. Founded in January 2021, The Parent Company is California’s leading vertically integrated cannabis company. McBride’s hire comes as the company also welcomed Kerry Arnold as its chief people officer. “This is an exciting time to join The Parent Company as the Managing Director of Social Equity Ventures to continue to ensure that minority communities have a seat at the table in the cannabis industry,” McBride said in a press release. “The Social Equity Ventures Fund and the recent opening of LA’s first Black Woman-Owned Dispensary, Josephine & Billie’s, are just some of the ways we are already making progress toward a more equitable future in cannabis. McBride joins the company with more than 15 years of...

Nov 30, 2021

NFTs Are Taking Over Miami Art Week & Art Basel —  Here Are Some Exhibits To Look Out For

Miami Art Week and Art Basel events take place Dec. 2 through 4 this year, and the annual celebrations will include some NFT (non-fungible token) exhibits. As AfroTech previously reported, NFTs can be anything that has been digitally authenticated, from music to art to gifs and beyond. Hence, it only makes sense to see them during Miami Art Week and Art Basel. Suppose you’re looking to brush up on your knowledge of the growing NFT industry ahead of the art week events. In that case, NFT BZL is hosting a day-long symposium featuring NFT experts on Nov. 30 to educate attendees on digital art. Here are some NFT exhibitions we think you should check out during the annual art week.

Nov 30, 2021

Jack Dorsey Steps Down As Twitter's CEO, 'I'm Really Sad...Yet Really Happy'

Jack Dorsey announced on Twitter Monday that he is resigning as CEO of the social networking company after nearly 16 years. not sure anyone has heard but, I resigned from Twitter pic.twitter.com/G5tUkSSxkl — jack (@jack) November 29, 2021 Dorsey has been leading Twitter in various roles since the social media giant was founded in 2006. He went from co-founder to CEO before being pushed out in 2008. Dorsey rejoined Twitter in 2011 as executive chair before taking over as CEO again in 2015. Twitter’s CTO Parag Agrawal has been named Dorsey’s successor, effective immediately, and Bret Taylor, Salesforce President, COO, and Twitter chairman, has been promoted to Twitter’s board chair. “I want you all to know that this was my decision, and I own it. It was a tough one for me, of course. I love this service and company…and all of you so much. I’m really sad…yet really happy,” Dorsey said in an email he shared on Twitter. “There aren’t many companies that get to this level. And there...

Nov 29, 2021

Morgan State Teams Up With The NFL To Prep HBCU Students For Careers In Pro Football Administration

Historically Black Morgan State University is partnering with the National Football League (NFL) to launch a data analytics initiative and a career development program, the university shared in a recent press release. The newly created Data Analytics Education and Research Initiative at Morgan State will provide students with opportunities to conduct in-depth research on sports, e-sports, fintech and related business areas by using different data analytics tools. The program will also offer educational boot camps in data analytics and data visualization. Morgan State’s new initiative will be managed through its Center for the Study of Blockchain and FinTech (The FinTech Center) at the Earl Graves School of Business. “We are excited that our partnership with the NFL highlights the increasing need to train data analysts,” said Dr. Ali Emdad, associate dean of Morgan State’s school of business and management and founding director of the university’s FinTech Center, in a statement....

Nov 24, 2021

Amazon's Simone Porter Says Tailoring Your Resume Is The Key To Landing The Job

Amazon employs 1.3 million people worldwide, 950,000 of which work in the U.S. That means one in every 153 American workers is an Amazon employee, Business Insider reports, and the tech giant also boasts a team of 1,200 recruiters. Simone Porter is a part of Amazon’s recruitment team. She focuses on attracting talent for non-tech roles. She’s been working for the company for roughly four and a half years in various roles, so she knows what it takes to land a job and climb the ladder. In case you missed it, Porter shared some of her recruiting and hiring tips at AfroTech Conference during her “Getting Hired Hacks: The Resume that Wins the Job” solo session. And it is safe to say, she took a deep dive into how to personalize your resume and make it stand out. “You can think of the resume as your 30 second, written elevator pitch,” Porter said in the AfroTech metaverse. “It’s the way that you are able to brand yourself in a short amount of time and describe who you are in a very clear,...

Nov 18, 2021

Jack Dorsey Talks The Power Of Bitcoin With Cryptocurrency Experts

Cryptocurrency is still on the rise, especially the most notable of them all: Bitcoin. AfroTech previously reported on the basics of digital currency and debunked some myths about the growing market, and we’ll even explore this topic further at AfroTech 2021. View this post on Instagram A post shared by AfroTech (@afro.tech) Cryptocurrency expert Isaiah Jackson, author of “Bitcoin & Black America” and co-host of “The Gentlemen of Crypto,” is a huge advocate for bitcoin education, especially in the Black community. With nearly 19,000 subscribers, his YouTube show is a daily live stream that discusses Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency market from the lens of two Black men who are Certified Bitcoin Professionals. One of “The Gentlemen of Crypto’s” core values is bridging cryptocurrency and the community, its website reads. “We cannot miss, in my opinion, the biggest financial revolution of our lifetime,” Jackson told AT about Black people getting educated on bitcoin. “And we can’t be left...

Nov 5, 2021

Meta's Aaron Russell Thinks Subsea Cables Are The Answer To Africa's Internet Access Issues

Meta’s (formerly Facebook) Head of Network Investments Emerging Markets Aaron Russell has worked for the tech giant for nearly seven years. In his current role, he manages and helps develop strategic partnerships to address and create solutions for the connectivity barriers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Russell is on a mission to better connect the world to faster and reliable internet. “Connecting the world is really one of the fundamental challenges of our generation. And that’s an idea that we really embrace,” Aaron Russell told AfroTech. “We work with partners to develop innovative technologies around the world that help some of the biggest connectivity challenges and solving them, and together we’re bringing more people online to a faster internet.” Russell and Meta think Internet connectivity issues can be solved by tapping into subsea cables. But what are those? Subsea cables are fiber optic cables that are laid in the ocean and connect two or more landing points. Ships drop these...

Nov 3, 2021

Meet The Black Venture Capitalists Who Are Not Only Raising Millions But Changing The Status Quo

It’s no secret that the startup world needs more Black investors and venture capitalists. Inc. Magazine reports Black founders are raising “record amounts of venture capital” in 2021, even though they only rang in 1.2 percent of all venture capital in the first half of the year. Last year, Black founders received only 0.6 percent of venture capital (VC) deployed. That’s unacceptable, and Black investors are stepping up to the plate to change that. Some notable Black venture capitalists making major moves in the VC world include Jarrid Tingle, co-founder and managing partner of Harlem Capital; Marlon Nichols, managing general partner at MaC Venture Capital; and Austin Clements, partner at Slauson & Co. The trio will hit the virtual stage at AfroTech 2021 during the “Black VCs: Raising Millions with a Mission” panel to discuss how they are working to raise millions of dollars to diversify venture capital investments. Ultimately, Nichols, Clements and Tingle want to put more dollars in...

Oct 29, 2021

Product Management Pimpin: Amazon's Kimberley Holloway Has Mastered The Art Of Pivoting, And You Can Too

Pivoting has become a common theme for the working class since the health crisis hit last March. Many professionals found themselves tapping into their unique skills to make career changes, and arguably every leadership team quickly pivoted business models to continue serving customers. But pivoting can be two-fold. Some pivot because they see an opportunity for change, while others may be forced to — depending on the industry they work in. Either way, product management guru Kimberley Holloway embraces the art of pivoting, and she gathered some strategies. And, if you’re looking to make career changes the right way , she will expand on this topic during AfroTech 2021. Secure a ticket to the conference today. View this post on Instagram A post shared by AfroTech (@afro.tech) Holloway’s resume spans a decade of experience. She’s worked in product management at big-name companies, including The Home Depot, Delta Air Lines, Samsung and NortonLifeLock. “Pivoting is not easy, but...

Oct 26, 2021

Imposter Syndrome Who? Chime's Christine Zekis Shares How To Conquer It

The feeling of imposter syndrome can come in many different shapes and sizes, especially for Black professionals working in tech. Christine (‘Tine) Zekis, a backend software engineer at Chime, has considered herself an “imposter,” and she has mastered how to conquer the feeling that most consider uncomfortable. Zekis plans to take a deep dive into this topic at the upcoming 2021 AfroTech Conference on a panel titled “Imposter Syndrome: Slaying the Beast.” View this post on Instagram A post shared by AfroTech (@afro.tech) VeryWell Mind defines imposter syndrome as an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. People often feel self-doubt, sabotage their success, overachieve and set challenging goals when experiencing imposter syndrome. While Black professionals may experience imposter syndrome the most, the phenomenon doesn’t discriminate; it can affect anyone. Zekis said she feels imposter syndrome often, and overcoming it is a...

Oct 22, 2021