Shondra Washington Named CEO of Web3 Community Black@

Key Insights

  • Washington to lead private community for Black creatives, entrepreneurs and investors. 
  • The company’s first product, GATED, is in beta.
  • In-person events slated for future community growth.

Shondra Washington, former investment banking and operations analyst, is pivoting from her post as fractional CFO under her company TBC Capital for budding startups like Bandwagon, to take the lead at Black@. 

The digital community currently boasts 200 members and is growing. It’s a safe meeting ground for Black creators, entrepreneurs and investors to learn about and invest in new technologies within Web3 amongst their peers. Washington co-founded the company this past December with partners Harold Hughes and Audrey Taylor-Awkenye, who serves as CTO. 

“I’m excited to be behind creating a space for [us] to learn about the new frontier of Web3,” Washington told The Plug. “Black@ provides a space where we can share and exchange sentiments as we talk about new projects and why they appeal to us. We don’t want to be left behind.”

Black@ announced the move earlier this week amid the kick-off of the Black Tech Week conference in Cincinnati—a national technology and investor conference platform for Black innovators that got its start in Miami, but was brought to the Queen City after an acquisition by Lightship Capital in March. 

Building a Community from the Inside Out

Black@’s origins sprung out of Art Basel last December in Miami when Washington and Hughes attended select NFT and Web3 events. At the time, they’d been added to a token-gated group of roughly 250 people who were also on the ground. From that group, an opportunity to buy into various projects emerged. Simultaneously, Washington and Hughes launched an impromptu Telegram community to share events with Black creators and entrepreneurs to organize meetups, introductions and stay informed about activities on the ground. After witnessing the value of a private resource community, Black@ was conceived. 

“Digital communities are here to stay whether token-gated or Web3/Web2 combined,” Washington said. “Providing a platform for creators to create and develop communities around them [as a people] will always be something that exists.”

Black@ follows the trend of social and Web3 environments that have sprung up over the years towards private discussion groups that are largely invite-only. Platforms like Discord, launched in 2015, boasts over 150 million active users as of last year across its private community messaging service. Social media giant Twitter started testing Twitter Circle in May, enabling limited sharing with select followers as part of its suite of new tools to help users share private content within limited audiences. 

Privacy and security within the Black@ community are paramount to what Washington said is critical to maintaining a safe space for its members. A few ground rules members must adhere to include being of Black identity and accepting the terms of service in order to engage. 

A Step Toward Monetization

Black@’s first product, GATED, helps Web3 communities aggregate the most important messages across member communities (like Discord or Telegram) in one simplified daily newsletter or text message. 

GATED counts CPG Gensis, Pop and Black@ communities as early launch partners, and will remain in private beta for the remainder of the year to develop and grow the product before becoming available to the public. 

In-person networking and learning events are also part of the company’s strategy for growing the community. Washington and her team are still charting the company’s overall fundraising strategy, but will continue to sell upwards of 500 tokens to Black@ at .5 etherum which members will be able to sell their share as the community grows. 

Sherrell Dorsey

She is the founder and CEO of The Plug—a distinctive, Black tech news and insights platform covering Black innovators in tech, venture capital, future of work policy, and more. Follow Sherrell on Twitter @Sherrell_Dorsey.