The Black CEO’s Too Few Know

Dion McKenzie
3 min readJan 1, 2016


$1B companies used to be so rare that they were coined Unicorns. With 150+ unicorns now, Black tech CEO’s are an ever rarer breed. Here’s some that I truly admire and that are equally trying to build these amazing startups that could one day become a $1B company.

Tristian Walker — Bevel

Tristian Walker has definitely risen through the ranks in record time and has touched some of the most successful tech companies in the last decade along the way. From being an early employee at both Foursquare & Twitter (whilst still at Stanford), to becoming a Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Andreessen Horrowitz, all the way to founding his own startup, Walker & Co Brands — Tristian has done it all. His first flagship brand Bevel has redefined the shaving experience for men of color (I’m an avid user) and he is set to launch his second brand in early ’16. He also co-founded CODE2040 which connects black CS students to Silicon Valley startups (which inspired me to start

Started: ‘13

Funding: $33.3M — Series B led by Google Ventures (recent — $24M)

Employees: 25

Location: Bay Area

Andre Walters — Yuno

Working for Michael ‘MJ’ Jordan as his Lawyer, must be every NBA fan who studies law dream. Andre Walters was the Director of Legal Affairs for Charlotte Bobcats (MJ is the majority shareholder). After spending 6 years with the NBA, Andre founded Yuno, a social commerce site that rewards users with cashback when they share purchases with friends.

Started: ‘13

Funding: No funding data

Employees: 6

Location: North Carolina

Don Charlton — Jazz

Frustrated with the recruiting experience, Don founded Jazz (formerly Resumator) to be the platform that powers the entire recruiting process for early stage companies. This year, Don brought on Pete Lamson to serve as CEO while Don concentrates on product and long-term vision of the company.

From L-R: Don Charlton, Founder & CPO of Jazz. (Right) Jazz recruiting platform

Started: ‘13

Funding: 17.98M — Series C led by Voltion Capital (recent — $15M)

Employees: 80

Location: Pennsylvania

Rodney Williams — LISNR

Rodney Williams started LISNR with the vision of building a platform that delivers second-screen experiences for brands and content creators. Now in it’s 4th year and with heavyweights like Eric Allen coming on board to scale beyond it’s early-startup phase, Rodney raised a $10M series B from Intel Capital in November.

Year founded: ‘12

Funding: $14.65M — Series B led by Intel (recent — $10M)

Employees: 30

Whilst disrupting different industries and headquartered in different parts of the US, these ‘unicorns’ have some core things in common — Humble beginnings, early success and a determination to give back to the communities they rose from.



Dion McKenzie

Co-founder of — Building more inclusive organizations