What You Read Most This Year: The Plug ‘Best of’ Reader Edition

Key Insights

  • Our readers have spoken and here are the top posts this year by page views.
  • Our reporting followed the money and demanded receipts of the racial equity movement and provided proof of the value in the work of the Black tech ecosystem. 
  • Wins by Black founders, funds were celebrated and the new frontier of tech that stands to make African nations billions in GDP was examined. 

Reflecting back on 2021, it seemed to hold the promise that it couldn’t be worse than 2020, the first full year of a global pandemic that took many workforces online, stretched unemployment rolls to capacity, toppled industries and devastated global healthcare systems. 

In 2021, the Black tech ecosystem saw fluctuations in business creation and unprecedented closures. Employees quit their jobs in droves, the racial equity movement made gains in some areas but stagnated in others and there was certainly never a dull moment. Here is a look back at an eventful year for the Black innovation economy. 

You, our reader, resonated most with stories ranging from the multi-million dollar work of Black accelerators to following the money of philanthropic giving to HBCUs and new tech policy that will bring billions of revenue to African nations and more. 


One In Three Black Founders With $1 Million+ In Venture Capital Graduated From A Black Accelerator

This original report demonstrated the way in which the scarcity narrative surrounding Black founders could be debunked as other Black ecosystem members provided opportunities and launching pads for the creation of multi-million Black-led companies. 


Atlanta’s ‘Godfather of Tech’ Has Big Ambitions for the Black Mecca

A throwback to 2019 reporting on Paul Judge, the entrepreneur-investor’s presence in Atlanta and how he came to be referred to as the city’s “Godfather of Tech.”


Kairos Welcomes Back Brian Brackeen After Ousting Him Two Years Ago

Things came full circle for founder and investor Brian Brackeen as he rejoined the facial recognition company he was ousted from two years earlier. 


Inside Upswing’s $5 Million Series A To Help Diverse And Non-traditional Students Succeed

Melvin Hines made waves in the edtech space last year securing a $5 million investment from a new philanthropic venture arm of powerhouse Omidyar Networks, Imaginable Futures.


Breaking: Sixty8 Capital Closes $20 Million Fund To Invest In Underrepresented Founders

Kelli Jones further solidified the midwest’s venture capital scene by launching a VC firm with $20 million in backing.


Twilio, Box, Spotify, and Other Tech CEOs Speak Out Against Racism and Police Brutality; Others Stay Silent

Barely halfway through 2020, the murders of unarmed Black people trended across the news cycle in tandem with the updates of coronavirus-related fatalities disproportionately impacted Black communities.


Last July, MacKenzie Scott Gave $150 Million to HBCUs. Here’s Where That Money Has Gone.

Readers got the receipts on MacKenzie Scott’s philanthropic giving to HBCUs this summer. 


EXCLUSIVE: Meet The 8 Startups Of Morgan Stanley’s 6th Cohort of The Multicultural Innovation Lab

The Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab launched with a new cohort of diverse founders in industries ranging from fitness to enterprise software. 


Google For Startups Black Founders Fund Awards $5 Million to 50 Companies

A closer look at the companies that each received $100,000 in non-dilutive funding from Google’s Black Founders Fund. 


STUDY: Kenya And Nigeria Stand To Gain Billions In Economic Growth Through Technology And Internet Communications Trade Agreement

Projections on how Kenya could grow its GDP by 1.23 percent from internet communications technologies products over the next 10 years. Previous agreements like the Information Technology agreement have eliminated tariffs on an additional $1.3 trillion in global trade. 


No HBCU Is Part Of The Upper Echelon Of Research Universities. Morgan State Aims To Change That.

Morgan State takes aim at landing among top research universities that have achieved R1 status, is successful it will be the first HBCU to achieve this. 


New Black Ops Ventures Launches First Fund With $13 Million In Investments

Black Operator Ventures led by Heather Hiles, closed $13 million in funding led by Northwest Mutual and Bank of America. The firm will invest exclusively in early-stage companies with at least one Black founder.

May the renewing hope that a new year brings deliver in 2022. The Plug is recommitting to the work of sourcing and telling the stories of the Black innovation economy and its many facades. 

In the work, 

Monica Melton

Managing Editor 

The Plug

Monica Melton

Monica Melton is the managing editor of The Plug Insights. She previously covered innovation, technology, and venture capital at Forbes. She has also covered politics at POLITICO, entertainment for Time Out New York, but her most fascinating beat has been covering the intersection of technology, finance, and entrepreneurship. She is an alumna of CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Washington.