The BE 100s—the nation’s largest black-owned businesses—are engaging in the same tech transformations and generational shifts that have marked today’s changing business landscape.
Take the transaction led by Eric Kelly, the Silicon Valley heavyweight that black enterprise has identified as one of the top tech influencers. In November 2018, Kelly, through a management-led buyout, acquired Overland Tandberg from Sphere3D, a publicly traded NASDAQ company. The San Jose, California-based data management and protection powerhouse has emerged as a newcomer on the top 100 list, making its debut at No. 56 with $67 million in revenues. Another tech innovator, San Francisco-based online legal services trailblazer Rocket Lawyer (No. 60 on the top 100 with $60 million in revenues), has launched a new product called Rocket Wallet that uses blockchain applications for contract execution.
Both companies represent the rising number of technology companies powering the top 100. Their presence also signals multiple trends that are reshaping the industrial and managerial configuration of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses. Many firms among this year’s be 100s produced solid revenue growth. Others, however, proved less fortunate, wrestling with issues such as diminished cash flow, eroding market share, and tougher competition. Yet most have displayed canny resilience to succeed in an increasingly unpredictable environme