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Jay-Z, Roc Nation Invest In Digital Sports Platform Fanatics Now Valued At $18 Billion

Global online sports retailer Fanatics has reached a whopping valuation of $18 billion thanks to some big time investors. CNBC reports that the sports e-commerce merchandise company has secured an additional $325 million in its latest round of funding to help expand its online offerings. Some of its many investors include Jay-Z and the rapper’s entertainment company, Roc Nation. Other major investments in the platform come from companies like MLB, SoftBank, Silver Lake, Eldridge, TWG Sports Media & Entertainment, and Insight Partners. According to The Wall Street Journal, Fanatics says that it expects to rake in $3.4 billion in revenue this year — a major increase from $2.6 billion in 2020 — and with its new valuation it may just reach that goal. For everyone involved, including Jay-Z, an investment in Michael Rubin’s Fanatics could mean supporting the future of sports merch as we know it beyond apparel and memorabilia. The company’s next move is to transform itself into a digital...

Aug 10, 2021

Jay-Z's Roc Nation Moves Into Virtual Reality Space With Purchase Of Sensorium's Crypto Tokens

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation is making more money moves and this time it’s in the virtual reality space. According to a press release, the entertainment company recently purchased tokens from Sensorium Corporation’s in-platform currency SENSO of Sensorium Galaxy — described as a digital metaverse that’s fusing together blockchain cryptocurrency tech with virtual reality (VR). Roc Nation’s purchase announcement suggests that the company is making active decisions to move it toward the digital future. Company CEO Desiree Perez confirmed this claim with a statement that reads, “Sensorium Galaxy is well-positioned to take the entertainment industry to the next level. Their digital metaverse has a strong focus on quality, which is exactly what we want for our extensive artist base.” Sensorium Galaxy was developed in partnership with several chart-topping artists and globally-recognized nightlife mogul Yann Pissenem in an effort to help music artists benefit more from global content distribution, a...

Jul 8, 2021

Instagram Is Amplifying Black-Owned Businesses On The Platform With New Feature

Supporting Black-owned businesses over the last year has become more than a trend. Now, consumers, corporations and online platforms are turning this full-fledged surge of support into a consistent lifestyle change with more intentional ways to champion these brands. Among those who have made financial and systemic pledges most recently is Instagram, who is now making it easier for shoppers to discover and identify Black-owned businesses directly on its platform. Thanks to a new feature, U.S. -based businesses a part of Shops on Instagram will be specifically declared “Black-owned” with a display label. Over the last year, Instagram has rallied its community of users to not just acknowledge Black-owned businesses, but shop with them as well. With newly-launched features like its Reels and Shop tabs, it’s made the e-commerce space a much more fun and knowledgeable experience for both brand owners and consumers. According to a blog post from Instagram, over 1.3 million Instagram posts...

Jun 30, 2021

Spotify Steps Into Live Audio App Space And Introduces Clubhouse Rival, Spotfiy Greenroom

Earlier this year, Spotify announced plans to host live audio conversations on its digital platform. Well that day is finally here, so say hello to the Spotify Greenroom app. After acquiring Black-led app Betty Labs — also the creators of sports-focused audio app Locker Room — Spotify shared its grand plan that included creating the “future formats of audio.” Today, the streaming giant is marking its official move into the digital audio future by introducing what could become a Clubhouse rival. According to TechCrunch, the Spotify Greenroom app itself is based on Locker Room’s existing code, so current users of the latter platform will soon see their app update to reflect the newly-rebranded and redesigned Greenroom experience. Current Spotify users can join the new app using their existing login in order to be onboarded onto the audio platform. For the time being, Spotify tells TechCrunch that the new app is a part of its plan to “leverage Spotify’s personalization technology to...

Jun 16, 2021

Digital Platform True To Us Wants To Become The Future For Black And Brown Women In Streetwear Culture

Black women are some of the most innovative playmakers in sneaker culture today. Their contributions have made a global impact through some of the biggest streetwear brands and even their own self-made platforms that have helped pave the way for others. As previously reported by AfroTech, Black women aren’t waiting around for major corporations to offer them opportunities in the streetwear industry anymore. They’re carving out their own spaces and making room for other people in their communities to erase the “boys club” stereotype. And that’s exactly what True To Us founder Jourdan Ash set out to do when she created her forward-thinking online platform. True To Us — which is labeled as “a platform for you to be seen” — strives to center Black and brown women as the foundation of the streetwear and sneaker industries while also extending career opportunties. Like many sneakerheads, Ash got her proper introduction to the culture very early in her youth, even as early as the day she...

Jun 11, 2021

Apple Music Commemorates Black Music Month With 'All Music Is Black Music' Campaign

Black Music Month is here and Apple Music is making sure everyone knows it with its latest campaign. The music streaming giant announced the launch of its “All Music Is Black Music” programming this month to honor the origins and influence of Black music artists across all genres. “I don’t think it’s commonplace for people to understand that all popular music comes from the origins and experiences of Black people,” Ebro Darden — Apple Music’s global editorial head of Hip-Hop and R&B — shared with Billboard. “We just need to make sure this is never forgotten.” Black Music Month was co-founded by radio legend Dyana Williams, her ex-husband Kenny Gamble and radio DJ Ed Wright back in 1979 as a means to amplify and celebrate all these Black-influenced genres across our culture, the Recording Academy reports. As we continue this annual tradition, Apple Music hopes to use its platform and reach to increase the recognition of Black music on a global scale. “Black Music Month may be an...

Jun 11, 2021

Hill Harper Launches First Black-Owned Digital Wallet And Cryptocurrency Exchange App In U.S. History

Famed actor Hill Harper is getting into the money game by way of financial technology that’s powering a newly-launched digital wallet for investors of color. According to a press release, Harper announced the launch of The Black Wall Street app just in time for Financial Literacy Month as a means to empower Black and Latinx investors and contribute to closing the racial wealth gap in America. This feat marks the first-ever Black-owned digital wallet and cryptocurrency exchange platform to exist in the U.S. Through this digital fintech platform, Harper hopes to create the world’s largest investment and financial literacy curriculum/toolkit for communities of color to use across the diaspora. “Our technology seeks to replicate the brick and mortar Black Wall Street, as a digital ecosystem that will galvanize the financially excluded and directly stimulate the economic growth and spending in marginalized communities everywhere,” Harper shares in a statement. “With the Black Wall Street...

Apr 13, 2021

Wellness Founder Jessamyn Stanley Found A Way To Create A Yoga Platform Built On Inclusivity And Positivity

Jessamyn Stanley is considered a powerfully-acclaimed voice in wellness who has been able to merge 21st century yoga with intersectional identity to launch an inclusive and positive platform for users of all walks of life. As the founder of The Underbelly — a streaming wellness app that offers digital yoga classes — Stanley has made it her life’s mission to help wellness-curious individuals find themselves authentically through the art of yoga. Amid the pandemic, Stanley and her team saw a huge uptick in subscribers for the platform and have since continued to help users achieve physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being through the power and convenience of technology. Now The Underbelly is focusing on its slate of upcoming classes as Stanley gears up to release her new book, “Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance,” set to hit shelves on June 22. AfroTech caught up with Stanley to discuss the origin story of The Underbelly, her experience has a founder in wellness and tech, and why...

Apr 12, 2021

22-Year-Old Founder Eno Oduok Created Her Digital Platform to Uplift Nigerians in Overlooked Careers

A common experience within African culture is the lack of acceptance from older generations for non-traditional career fields. For many, the only widely-accepted career paths lie within the STEM field — an observation that was made very clear to 22-year-old founder Eno Oduok. In Oduok’s experience, she found that for Black and people of color — Nigerians in particular — there was little to no representation for people in her culture within the creative job market. One day while searching for an online space for Nigerians in public relations — Oduok’s current occupation — she noticed there weren’t any up-to-date platforms to connect with people like herself. So in September of last year, she launched her very own platform called Naija Comm — a rapidly growing space that showcases and connects Nigerians as creatives working in overlooked career fields such as communications, arts, business, and so forth. Almost every week, the platform picks select individuals to spotlight their work...

Apr 2, 2021

Facebook's Newly-Launched Accelerator Program 'We the Culture' is Championing Black Voices & Creators

At the peak of last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, Facebook stepped up to pledge $200 million toward Black-owned businesses, creators, and communities in an effort to offer substantial support that’s lacked in recent years. Now they’re taking it a step further to cultivate a wide-reaching creative community/accelerator program called “We the Culture” — supported by a $25 million investment. The program aims to amplify the voices of Black content creators and their work to celebrate our influential culture. The new community was created by a passionate team of Black employees at Facebook who are helping Black visionaries share their creations with the world, while also serving as a launching pad for their professional careers. “We The Culture celebrates Black creativity,” co-founder Michelle Mitchell shared with AfroTech. “I’m a Black creative myself — I’m convinced that a part of my desire to create and express is driven by a need to render myself less invisible in a society...

Feb 23, 2021

CFDA Launches New Platform Dedicated to Supporting Black Talent in Fashion

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) is rolling out a new platform that strives to identify and empower Black creatives and leaders in the fashion space. Impact — a talent directory powered by the job platform Creatively — is a new program launched by the CFDA in an effort to nurture Black talent in fashion by offering them a place to display their work and submit their resumes in consideration for various job opportunities. “This work is essential to the future of American fashion, which must be diverse, equitable, and inclusive,” said CaSandra Diggs, new President of the CFDA, in an announcement. “The CFDA is proud to take the lead in this important effort for the industry and beyond. We launch IMPACT with a specific focus on widening talent pipelines and advancing career development for Black and Brown creatives and professionals. In the future, we will further the initiative to also address other inequities within the fashion system.” Creatively’s job platform that...

Feb 22, 2021

Google Extends New 'Black-Owned' Feature to Shopping Tab to Make Buying Black More Accessible

Support for Black-owned businesses exploded last summer amid the mass Black Lives Matter protests, which seemingly turned entire industries upside down. The demand for more visibility for these businesses has also seen an uptick from consumers on the e-commerce world. According to Google, over the last 12 months search interest for “black owned businesses” has skyrocketed 600% based on Google Trends data. To support this influx of consumers looking to buy Black, Google Shopping has extended its new feature specifically designed to help shoppers easily identify and buy from Black-owned businesses via Google. Google Shopping refers to the newly-updated feature as the “Black-owned attribute” which Black business owners can use by visiting the Google Merchant Help Center. The feature will become available to all Google shoppers and applicable U.S. Google Merchants in the coming months. GIF credit: Google According to a blog announcement, Google added this new update to accompany the...

Feb 17, 2021

Instagram's Shopping in Reels Feature Proves to be Fruitful in Empowering Black-Owned Businesses

Amid the explosion of engaging, entertaining videos on social media during quarantine, Instagram introduced a new visual feature to its platform to rival its competitor, TikTok. Now it’s proving to be a fruitful asset to Black-owned businesses who have set up shop on the app. With many people sheltered-in-place, online shopping saw a huge uptick in traffic prompting many shop owners to turn their attention toward their online stories and digital platforms to incorporate shopping-friendly features in their content. Back in November of last year, Instagram launched its Reels and Shop tabs — both efficient and fun ways for brand owners and entrepreneurs all over the world to connect with consumers — in an effort to accommodate this booming era of e-commerce. Photo Credit: Instagram The way these new features work for businesses on the app provides a better shopping experience for consumers looking to discover new items and brands. Users are able to see a Reel with tagged products,...

Feb 5, 2021

Kevin Durant, Rich Kleiman to Launch New Video Series on Sports Media Network Boardroom

Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman are tapping back into their Thirty Five Ventures-backed platform Boardroom to launch a new stream of content. According to Variety, in addition to relaunching the platform’s website, the duo is also announcing a slate of new programming with an upcoming video series titled “More Explanation Needed,” hosted by Pierce Simpson. The new show will offer Simpson’s perspective on all things sports, music, and culture, while featuring a lineup of celebrity guests and business leaders for short interviews. Additionally, “Risk-Reward” — a sports, business, and finance interview series hosted by sports reporter Ros Gold-Onwude — will also be premiering on Boardroom’s platform later this month. Boardroom — which brings the best of the sports business directly to fans — is a media network that showcases how athletes, tech moguls, and sports executives are moving the sports world, and culture itself, forward. The network was launched by Durant and Kleiman’s Thirty...

Feb 1, 2021

Inclusive E-Commerce Site Thirteen Lune Raises $1M With Help From Diddy to Expand Its Digital Platform

Last month, all-inclusive e-commerce platform Thirteen Lune kicked off its launch to support more Black and brown-owned beauty brands. Now the online beauty hub has raised $1 million to expand its development with help from several investors, including media mogul and entertainer Sean “Diddy” Combs, WWD reports. “I believe in the Thirteen Lune mission to build generational wealth for Black and brown business owners,” said Combs in a statement. “Nyakio and Patrick have the vision and grit to build a world-class platform, and I’m excited to be an investor and adviser.” In addition to Diddy’s participation, WWD shares that Thirteen Lune also enlisted other well-known early investors such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Watts, Gregg Renfrew of the Beautycounter, Tracey Cunningham of Mèche salon, former U.S. Ambassador Nicole Avant, venture capitalist Patrick Finnegan, and Sydney Holland of Urban and The Mystic. “Through this capital that we raised, $1 million with our friends and family, and...

Jan 19, 2021