The Collision PointThe future of diversity in the tech industry proved particularly bright this past week at the second annual Black Tech Week conference held in Miami. Tech leaders and innovators from across the country came to share and collaborate at this landmark event, while providing serious inspiration for South Florida’s own budding talents. And this is all thanks to Black Tech Week co-founder and Jamaican-born entrepreneur, Felecia Hatcher, who with her husband and business partner Derick Pearson founded the event to jumpstart more diverse talent in the industry. Hatcher herself is a lauded tech advocate as the founder of educational non-profit Code Fever, a tech training program targeting underserved minority students between the ages of 13 to 21 in South Florida. For her vital contribution to the industry, the White House awarded her as a 2014 Champion of Change for STEM Access and Diversity.Speaking with Hatcher at the Women in Innovation Brunch, closing off a week of events, the National Weekly about the conference’s success and its implications for the future.Why did you and Derick decide to launch Black Tech Week?There still a lot of work that needs to be done in term of engaging our community in the innovation economy. Black Tech Week for us is the solution to the problems that people keep complaining about – particularly the lack of [black] techies in some of the major tech companies across the globe. But nothing is pushed as a solution towards that, so that’s why we wanted to start Black Tech Week. The other part is Code Fever, which is our technical training component, and we wanted to bring the resources full circle with this conference.Felecia Hatcher (at podium) at Black Tech WeekWhat were your goals for this year’s event?We wanted to duplicate and expand on what we did last year. And also expanding the foot print a little bit to include some other areas that are tech related, but people are not connecting the dots to when they hear about Black Tech Week, and trying to figure out they fit into all of that.Why is diversity so important in the digital and technology industry?It’s really important because that’s where diversity happens. True diversity allows us to have better innovation in our community and really lets us build things that solve problems. So when you have an eclectic array of people sitting at the table creating and making things, we build better products and we build better communitiesThere were so many fantastic events this week. For you, what was the major takeaway from this year’s event?The major takeaway is just providing that collision point. People were coming together, they were enjoying the panels. But they really want to connect, to be able to network with each other. And make deals happen at the end of the day. From the former NFL players that we had come here. They’re former NFL players that are now techies and they wanted to connect with programmers to build out the applications they want and the technology they’re trying to do. We had rappers here that are looking to connect with people in order to increase what they’re doing in the social space. We had a very eclectic group of people here, and the collision points were what was most important, and the biggest takeaway for me.What was your favorite moment from this year’s conference?There were so many! But I would say it was seeing all the young people that came out here at Black Tech Week. There were a whole bus-full of students from Florida Memorial. Miami-Dade has students that came in to Florida International University, which has been a great partner for us. We had innovators from all over the place, and it was great that our young talent could be exposed to all the possibilities these leaders represent.PHOTO captions:Felecia Hatcher (far right) seeking with panelists Dawn Dickson of Venture.IO, T. Bernie of COCOCHIC, LLC, Barbara Jacques of JACQ’s Organics, and Ebony Pope of Leadership Development Associate Village Capital) at the Women in Innovation Brunch last Saturday.
Businesses are fighting a cyberwar. Cybercrime damages totaled $3 trillion in 2015 and are expected to grow to $6 trillion by 2021, according to a report by Cyber Security Ventures. That’s a massive amount of money. To fend off possible losses, businesses are ramping up on cybersecurity defenses and expected to spend an aggregate of over $1 trillion from 2017 to 2012.Steve Morgan, Editor-In-Chief at Cyber Security Ventures, said that “Cybercriminal activity is one of the biggest challenges that humanity will face in the next two decades.”Ginni Rometty, IBM’s chairman, president and CEO, said that “cybercrime is the greatest threat to every company in the world.”Robert Herjavec, CEO and founder of the Herjavec Group, said that “there is no effective law enforcement for financial cybercrime today. Organizations need to increase their defenses and become more resilient because there is no end state in sight for this growing cybercrime epidemic. So long as there is a way for cybercriminals to get paid, with limited risk, attacks will continue. The challenge remains that large enterprises aren’t nearly as agile as their attackers.”
The Miami Heat put the New York Knicks one more defeat from extinction Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, winning Game 3 87-70 under the fourth-quarter brilliance of LeBron James and guard Mario Chalmers.James rang up 32 points — including eight straight to start the fourth — and the unheralded Chalmers added 19, including back-to-back three-pointers to break open the game. The defeat was the 13th straight for the Knicks in the playoffs, an NBA record.Dwyane Wade added 20 points for the Heat, up 3-0 in the series. Miami goes for the sweep in N.Y. on Sunday afternoon.Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points but shot just 7 of 23 for the Knicks, who played without Amare Stoudemire, who cut his hand after the Game 2 loss in Miami.
Quarterbacks who remain unsigned as of March 29, 2017 Last season, Kaepernick posted a QBR of 55.2 — which is not great (he ranked 23rd out of 30 qualified passers) but also not terrible. (The NFL-wide average QBR was 61.3.) You can see on the chart that Lee’s theory is credible: It’s hard to find a recent free-agent QB who played at Kaepernick’s level and lasted so long on the market the next offseason. Matt Leinart (2012) and Kyle Orton (2014) signed nearly 50 days into their free agency, but neither had played much the year before. Michael Vick wasn’t signed for 169 days in 2015, but he was also older and coming off a season (39.4 QBR) far worse than Kaepernick’s 2016.There are an unusual number of unsigned QBs at this stage of the offseason, though, and some with comparable résumés to Kaepernick’s. That’s in part because Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo may move teams this offseason and begin a QB carousel in the league. Steve Walsh199428220Benched Shaun Hill373863.6 T.J. Rubley199325225Benched Charlie Batch200127197Benched PLAYERAGEPLAYSQBR Colin Kaepernick2945455.2 Ed Hargett197124199Benched Greg Cook196923614Injury Jay Cutler3417033.2 Ed Rubbert198723361Unsigned Blaine Gabbert2721860.3 Three weeks into the NFL’s free-agency period, Colin Kaepernick still doesn’t have a job. Ordinarily, an NFL veteran who is having difficulty finding a team isn’t exactly newsworthy. But NFL talent is scarce at quarterback, and Kaepernick’s situation is far from ordinary.After Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem last season as quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, the question has become whether it’s the reason that teams are avoiding him. Some arguments regarding Kaepernick’s worth to a team are easily put aside (the obsession over “distractions” in sports is always tired but loses all meaning when we have proof that the supposed distraction had the opposite effect), though that wouldn’t necessarily stop a team from considering them. But others are more credible, or at least invite more investigation. Could it be that Kaepernick just isn’t good enough, or that he plays a style that makes him difficult to accommodate?The evidence suggests that those factors alone don’t explain Kaepernick’s unemployment. Kaepernick’s current employment status looks less like a natural result of the supposed NFL meritocracy and more like something unusual is going on (even by the standards of an unusually complex situation). His play is good enough to have attracted interest from teams by now. That it hasn’t suggests that he’s being punished on at least some level for his political outspokenness.Other QBs as good as Kaepernick usually get signedThere are a couple of ways we can judge whether it’s unusual that Kaepernick is still waiting for NFL teams to call. One is to see how long into free agency it usually takes for a quarterback of Kaepernick’s quality to find a new team. Director Spike Lee implied in an Instagram post a week ago that similar QBs are usually signed by now. He’s right.To investigate Lee’s claim, we started with a list of all free-agent QBs who changed teams since 2012 (the first free-agency period under the NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement), courtesy of our friends at ESPN’s Stats & Information Group. Then for each quarterback, we plotted his Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) from the season before his free agency — to get a sense of how well he played — against the number of days that elapsed between the start of his free agency and his signing: Gary Danielson197827341Injury Steve Walsh199125436Benched Vince Ferragamo198026987Rival league Sam Bradford201326254Injury Many of the absences were injury-related (remember Trent Green?), some QBs simply lost their starting roles and stayed on the bench, and others were lured away to join rival leagues.Kaepernick, though, isn’t injured, has not yet secured even a spot on the bench, and an excursion into a rival league is a far steeper fall off for a player today than it was in the past.Kaepernick can fit into different offensesThat doesn’t mean Kaepernick’s case is open and shut, though. There are other factors that may be at play, such as his reported desire to compete for a starting job (and earn a low-starter to high-backup salary). That would encourage him to wait and see what happens with Romo and the ripple effects that Romo’s move could have on the rest of the league.But there is also a belief that the delay in finding Kaepernick a team is because of his particular skillset: that any team that signs him would have to run an offense built for a quarterback who isn’t a pocket passer. But Kaepernick’s reputation for being a bad QB in the pocket is somewhat overblown. There are in-depth film reviews for Kaepernick that show his ability to make reads and handle pressure, such as Doug Farrar’s at Bleacher Report. The stats confirm as much.Last season, Kaepernick completed 61 percent of his passes from the pocket, for 14 touchdowns and two interceptions, according to data from ESPN’s Stats & Information Group. Elite quarterbacks tend to complete something in the mid-to-high 60s, so it’s not like Kaepernick is being shunned despite being elite. The league median completion percentage since 2010 is 63 percent. Still, considering that San Francisco receivers dropped 6.3 percent of all targets thrown their way in 2016 — the highest rate in the league — Kaepernick’s accuracy is likely a bit better than the percentages show.3Many of the drops were short-to-intermediate routes, so Kaepernick wasn’t losing massive chunks of potential yardage to drops the way, say, Cam Newton was. But for offenses that struggle to gain big chunks of yardage, drops on short passes have a compounding effect.It was Kaepernick’s out-of-pocket stats that weighed down his numbers: He completed just 49 percent of his passes from outside the pocket in 2016, with a raw QBR (total QBR before adjusting for strength of opponent) of just 16.5 on those plays. So it’s probably a good thing that the share of Kaepernick’s plays that came outside the pocket were at a career-low last season, dropping from a high of 23 percent of his plays in 2012 to 17 percent in 2016. That 17 percent is still fairly high relative to the league (the median since 2010 is 11 percent), but his game is trending toward staying in the pocket.Despite Kaepernick’s flaws, QBs at his level are still worth something in the NFL, in part because its quarterback marketplace is driven by scarcity. The Denver Broncos were prepared to give up a fourth-round pick for Kaepernick last year because there aren’t that many people in the world who can do what Kaepernick can do, even if what Kaepernick does is far from perfect.For instance, Kaepernick’s raw QBR for in-pocket plays has not been very good the past few seasons. Among 232 qualified passer-seasons since 2010, Kaepernick’s 2016 ranks 208th. But then look at Sam Bradford, whose 2015 season ranks four spots ahead of Kaepernick, at 204th. When Minnesota starter Teddy Bridgewater went down just before the 2016 season, the Vikings traded a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 fourth-rounder for Bradford’s services as an emergency starter. Kaepernick is only a year older than Bradford was last season, but his value has dipped from a fourth-round pick in Denver to seemingly nothing at all.It is impossible to prove the precise mix of factors that have gone into Kaepernick’s free agency to this point. The market remains paralyzed by Romo, and teams are run by fallible owners and executives who may simply disagree on Kaepernick’s football value. But given what we know about how the quarterback market has worked historically, and about Kaepernick’s value as a player, the commentariat is right to be suspicious. If Kaepernick begins the season without a team, history says it’s unlikely to be for football reasons. We aren’t there yet, but every day further into free agency makes that scenario harder to ignore. Ryan Fitzpatrick3448145.4 Chase Daniel30199.6 Colin Kaepernick201629202? PREVIOUS SEASON Why Kaepernick-caliber QBs missed a season Bobby Hebert198929444Holdout Trent Green199828458Injury Doug Williams198227409Rival league Ed Luther198427396Rival league In other words, Kaepernick’s absence from the NFL may be a quirk of circumstance in a league where there are only so many landing spots during the offseason. You don’t hear talk radio obsessing over where Blaine Gabbert will end up, for example.Our free-agency data set has a blind spot, though — it only shows QBs who were ultimately signed. Another way to try to evaluate why Kaepernick hasn’t been is to spin a hypothetical: Imagine Kaepernick doesn’t throw a single pass next season — is he like other QBs who fall off the map?Not really. Since 1966, only one under-30 quarterback has had as good a year as Kaepernick’s 20161According to yards above replacement, which takes into account passing and rushing value over a backup-level QB. yet gone unsigned the next year.2Congrats to Ed Rubbert, who went unsigned in 1988 after playing as a scab during an NFL player’s strike for Washington the previous year. Other young quarterbacks who follow relatively good seasons with no passes the next tend to be out of the game for different reasons: Neil Lomax198829829Injury Case Keenum2938843.4 Craig Nall200425224Benched Steve Beuerlein198924226Benched PLAYERYEARAGEYARDS ABOVE REPLACEMENTREASON FOR ABSENCE Robert Griffin III2721145.0 Minimum one action play in the previous season. Ages are as of Dec. 31, 2016.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group Randy Johnson197329345Rival league Charlie Whitehurst353037.9 Matt McGloin271714.5 Timm Rosenbach199024197Injury David Fales2671.8 Top 20 seasons, by yards above replacement, among quarterbacks younger than 30 who threw zero passes the following season, 1966 to 2016. Ages are as of Dec. 31 of the listed year.Sources: Pro-Football-Reference.com, media reports SEASON BEFORE ABSENCE