Venture for America: Creating Thousands of New Jobs in All the Right Places, with CEO Andrew Yang

Venture for America is a non-profit fellowship program that grooms the next generation of American entrepreneurs by placing them in startup apprenticeships.

Andrew Yang: Venture for America is a nonprofit fellowship program for college graduates who want to learn how to build businesses and create opportunities, become entrepreneurs really. What we do is we recruit top grads. We bring them to a training camp for five weeks at Brown University, my alma mater. We bring in entrepreneurs, investors, venture capitalists, McKenzie, IDEO to help train them in what it takes to build a company. And then they work in startup companies in Detroit, New Orleans, Providence, Cincinnati and eight other U.S. cities for two years. And at the end of those two years they’ll have a sense of how these businesses grow and develop.

They’ll be working with a more experienced entrepreneur during that time. At the end of the two years they can either stay at that company as a manager and leader or they can even start their own companies. And we have a set of angel investors and a seed fund to invest in them. So you can think of it as a two year extended entrepreneur apprenticeship program that has the immediate effect of helping companies expand and hire more people and hopefully create more jobs. Our immediate goal as an organization is to help create 100,000 new U.S. jobs by 2025 by helping these companies grow and also training the next generation of entrepreneurs.

So there are six default paths for young smart people in the U.S. today – financial services, management/consulting, law school, medical school, graduate school/academia and Teach for America. So these are six things and these six things will comprise between 50 and 70 percent of university graduates from any national university in the U.S. I mean they really add up very quickly.

They also tend to concentrate our talent in one of six geographies – New York City, San Francisco/Silicon Valley, Washington D.C., Boston, Chicago and L.A. So in essence we have a system that’s driving our most talented graduates to one of six activities in one of six places. And over the long term this is not a great thing for the economy, especially if you consider that so many of these graduates are heading to professional services contexts that exist to serve essentially large companies that after they get big enough to a point where they can hire an investment banker, consulting firm or a law firm. So the metaphor I use is that it’s like we’re investing in tons of layers of icing and forgetting to bake the cake. What we need to do is we need to send more talent to early stage businesses that can grow and prosper, expand, hire people, maybe even create hundreds of new jobs. And then if they become mature then they can hire professional services firms to help them expand in various ways. But the first order of business is helping the firms come into being and to grow.

36 percent of this year’s Venture for America class was comprised of women. And we think that’s a good start but not nearly where it needs to be. We need to get it up to 51 percent to mirror the population and also the college graduate ratio obviously. You know, I think people respond very powerfully to role models. Like they see examples, they want to see someone who’s like them. And so there are some fellows that are women that come to us and say hey, I’d prefer a female led company. And so when we go out to the startup landscape in these cities and you look around, I mean the proportion of companies that right now – not even in tech but just, you know, in startups and growth companies in these cities – unfortunately it’s certainly well below 51 percent at least of the companies that we see and interact with.

And so, you know, we see there’s a lot of work to do at every level. But we think a lot of it does begin as women looking up and saying, "Hey, who are the people that are doing this that are like me?" And I think that’s one reason why someone like Sheryl Sandberg has set such a huge powerful example because now, you know, women look up and see that there are leaders in these industries that are women that are doing amazing things.

I think there’s certainly a desire among this generation to have a positive impact to build something new. And I see this when I interact with college students around the country that they very badly want that sort of option. But when the rubber hits the road it’s really about who’s making them a job offer, when. And so if you’re a senior in college and you’re looking for a job, it’s all about who’s extending you a genuine path and who’s recruiting you, who’s making you feel wanted, who can you take home to your parents, figuratively speaking, and say, "Hey, mom, guess what? I’ve got an offer from Deloitte." Then your parents will be very, very happy. So those are the variables that really matter. Like people talk about the, you know, the wants and needs of the generation which are obviously very important.

But it’s equally important what are the genuine choices they’re being presented with. And those things are a function of resources. So what Venture for America does is we try and provide a genuine path toward startups and growth companies in Detroit and New Orleans and other parts of the country that might not be top of mind for a recent college graduate really by extending some of the same resources. So that if you join VFA you’ll end up with some of the same network and community and training and support that many of these young people are seeking through other means.

Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton

 

Venture for America CEO Andrew Yang describes the fundamental problems facing young professionals. College graduates gravitate to just six U.S. cities and six career paths, which slows innovation and the growth of small businesses. Venture for America aims to reverse this trend and to create 100,000 new jobs in the U.S. by 2025. Yang is the author of Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America.

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Maps show how CNN lost America to Fox News

Is this proof of a dramatic shift?

Strange Maps
  • Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
  • Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
  • A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses

Dramatic and misleading

Image: Reddit / SICResearch

The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.

Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.

The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.

Let's zoom in:

  • It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
  • By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
  • Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
  • In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
  • Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
  • By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.

"Frightening map"

Image source: Reddit / SICResearch

This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?

  • "The end is near."
  • "The idiocracy grows."
  • "(It's) like a spreading disease."
  • "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
For others, the maps are less about the rise of Fox News, and more about CNN's self-inflicted downward spiral:
  • "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
  • "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
  • "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
  • "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."

Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:

  • "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
  • "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
  • "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
  • "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."

"Old people learning to Google"

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)

But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:

  • "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
  • "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
  • "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
  • "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."

A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.

The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.

One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.

Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.

It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.

CNN, Fox and MSNBC

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison

For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):

  • Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
  • MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
  • CNN: 706,000 (-9%)

And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.

The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
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