Q: What’s the Difference Between Mark Zuckerberg and JayZ?

Posted by Anthony Worku
(@Anthony Worku)

Behind all of the similarities in mindset that bring these two moguls together is a striking truth about our social reality. The fact is that if Zuckerberg continued his education and graduated from Harvard, he would have had high paying job opportunities lined up for him left and right. On the other hand, JayZ had to work with the only bit of technology and access he had to earn his “getoutofpovertycard”…and look what he did!

By the way, this is not a dig on Mark Zuckerberg he did what JayZ would have done in the same position had he had the same access to resources that are available in the privileged zip codes. Just imagine if the access in Urban America were as robust as it is in Silicon Valley. Just imagine if the pool of resources in Silicon Valley were open to the entrepreneurial mindset of Urban America. How do we eliminate the barriers of these physical zip codes and create a more transcendent platform that is truly representative of the possibilities this Techcentury has to offer?

The disparity that exists between physical zip codes is mind boggling given the technology that is currently in our hands. Despite our ability to connect through amazing technology, we are still living in the world of the “Tale of Two Cities”. In other words, despite these amazing technologies, our problem of social disparity has not changed. In fact, we are still in the last century living in such a Tale of Two Cities.

These amazing unicorn tech startups have not solved this problem; urban entrepreneurs still have no access to Silicon Valley. The problem is, while all of this technology has come out of Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, Brooklyn, Austin, Seattle, Portland, Boston, and all the other trending ‘startup boom towns’, the knowledge and knowhow is still concentrated on one side of town. And we all know what side of town that is.

10014 is one of Manhattan’s wealthiest zip codes. It is home to Google and Uber’s new buildings. One of the poorest, 10031 is a zip code just uptown, less than five miles away and is a neighboring zip code to Columbia University. By the way, 10031 (Urban America) is connected to 10014 (Silicon Alley/Google’s compound) by the same train line! It is a 20 minute ride on one train. And get this, literally one zipcode south of 10031 is Columbia University, and yet once again an entire ocean swells between.

The same argument can be made in each and every one of these startup boom towns. One thing that is common about them is the familiar patterns of gentrification while the new tech talent enters, the locals disappear. In other words, as one knowledge community enters, the former knowledge base that was there goes away. What a shame. They could have mingled. Just ask JayZ what happened when RadioShack mingled with his old neighborhood. For that matter, just ask these new residents what kind of music is on their playlists. More common than you thought, huh?!

In one privileged Manhattan zip code, the median income is on the north side of $170,000. This zip code lies just two blocks south of another tract where the median is on the south side of 22 grand a year. And in Brooklyn, a census tract in Dumbo with a median north of 160K, lies adjacent to a tract whose median income is on the south side of 18K. Imagine that. Mind you, $18,000 in New York gets you about as far as a dime in the dollar store.

The same statistics are true in all of these startup boom towns. This is an unacceptable reality, and a reality that can change with the introduction of relevant technologies that we already have into the right places accompanied by the right kind of knowledge collaboration. The motto of the new tech century is “knowledge collaboration”. Aren’t we supposed be in the “Sharing Economy”? Well, let’s create a zip code for the sharing economy. #KnowledgeZipCode. A new type of zip code where information would create a boom of successful entrepreneurship. We are talking about tapping into the knowledge and startup mindset that already exists in Urban America, and connecting it with the knowledge and technology knowhow of Tech America. Our motto should be #TechSharingIsCaring.

We are not talking about creating a few billionaires and millionaires from the streets, we are trying to create thousandaires. Thousandaires stay, while millionaires and billionaires leave. We are talking about creating a world in which it is the locals themselves who gentrify their own neighborhoods. This process is what we like to refer to as #Technofication, which is only possible by creating a sustainable knowledge based Urban America: a collaboration between Tech America and Urban America. #UrbanSiliconValley.