The push for diversity in tech may seem like a new phenomenon but for people like Hank Williams, the fight lasted decades. Williams died Sunday of a viral heart infection at the age of 50, according to USA Today. He spent his life advocating for tech diversity.
His career started in the 1980s when he became president and chief executive of Pastel Development Corp in 1988. By 1998 he started one the earliest and first internet based music providers. For three years the company existed and thrived before companies like Napster came on the scene.
In 2008, he founded another business venture. His company Kloudco is an Internet data storage service. Williams utilized the company to implement his ideas on diversity. Four years later, Williams dedicated much of his time with his pet project, the Platform Summit.
“We set up Platform because there is an urgent need in the information economy for everybody – people of color, women – to be engaged,” Williams said in February 2015. “We wanted to foster a significantly greater level of diversity in the innovation economy.”
The summit partnered with Atlanta-based universities Morehouse College and Georgia Tech to connect with students interested in pursuing tech careers. In years past, the summit had guests like music legend Quincy Jones, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and musician Janelle Monáe. The non-profit aims at increasing the number of Black, Latinos, and women in the tech field. In addition, the summit highlights the contributions of the few diverse faces in the industry as well as providing a network and support system.
“This part of the tech world is driven by all the same types of biases that exist in the non-tech world,” he said. “And it is much harder for even the most talented African-Americans in the tech world to gain access to influential, insightful, connected mentors, let alone investors.”
Williams wanted a tech industry that would be as inclusive as it possibly could be. The Platform Summit will continue his vigorous effort in achieving that goal.