Full Transcript: Partpic Founder And CEO Jewel Burks On GHOGH Podcast Part 2

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Jewel Burks
Jewel Burks Solomon is an advocate for representation and access in the technology industry. As co-founder of Partpic, a startup designed to streamline the purchase of maintenance and repair parts using computer vision, Jewel and her team built groundbreaking technology poised to change the way people everywhere locate products. | Image: Anita Sanikop

In episode 44 of the GHOGH podcast, Jamarlin Martin talks to Jewel Burks about her M&A process when she sold her tech company, Partpic, to Amazon.

You can listen to the entire conversation right now in the audio player below. If you prefer to listen on your phone, GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin is available wherever you listen to podcasts — including Apple PodcastsSpotifyYouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 44: Jewel Burks
Jewel Burks discusses her M&A process when she sold her tech company, Partpic, to Amazon.

This is a full transcript of the conversation which has been lightly edited for clarity.

Jamarlin Martin: You’re listening to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin. We have a go hard or go home approach as we talk to the leading tech leaders, politicians and influencers. Let’s GHOGH! We will now continue our interview with Jewel Burks from part one. So you’re one of the very few women in general that have gone through the life cycle of starting a business, raising capital, selling your business. When you meet new entrepreneurs, what is it that you observe where hey, you get the game wrong in terms of you under-appreciate certain things where of course you’ve been through the full cycle. Is there anything that you see with new entrepreneurs that they don’t get that they should?

Jewel Burks: Yeah, I think a lot of people skip steps. So to the point of raising funding, a lot of people hear my story and they hear that I raised however many millions of dollars and that’s the thing they want to talk about first. And I’m like, wait a minute. What do you do? First of all, how do you make money? Let’s talk about that.

Jamarlin Martin: Like the chariot in front of the horse. You’re not getting any money until maybe you build a prototype, until you fully understand the user acquisition model, the marketing and all this other stuff.

Jewel Burks: Exactly. There are so many pieces that you’ve got to figure out before you can go and reasonably go ask somebody else to invest in it. And then I think a lot of people just assume that other people will invest in their companies before they’ve made an investment. And like I said, I was operating my business, or at least trying to operate for a solid year before I got anybody else’s money. Meaning I had to put the first tens of thousands of dollars into it before I could reasonably go and ask somebody else to put some money into it. Yeah. So I think that’s an important piece too. And then, a lot of people aren’t thinking about the business from a perspective of just business fundamentals. What is the cash flow look like? How does this sustain after any investment?

Jamarlin Martin: They have everything figured out on raising capital, but not the fundamentals.

Jewel Burks: Right. Yeah. So I really challenge people to think about, what is the business itself? Is it something that you want to be doing for the long haul? That’s a big question too, is this idea that you have today and next year you’re going to be over it or is this something that really bothers you and you won’t be satisfied until it’s solved for everybody? That’s a big thing too.

Jamarlin Martin: Of course we saw crashes and a tech crash in 2000 and of course we had a financial crisis in 2008, but are you concerned in terms of so many entrepreneurs not caring about cash-flow and profits and kind of fundamentals where there’s going to be a reversion to the mean where valuations and and all this stuff, It’s going to snap back to where people start caring about these things.

Jewel Burks: Yes. I think that’s happening already. And like I said, I’m having a lot of conversations about how do you just build the business. Just built the business. And then you might want to think about investment to scale the business, but let’s just build a business first and then perhaps you will be able to build something that’s very valuable that you can maintain ownership of. Yes. Let’s talk about that. Don’t even worry about the investments.

Jamarlin Martin: Also flip mentality, at least what I’ve witnessed over a couple of years. There’s a lot of entrepreneurs, they don’t even try to hide that they just want to build it and flip it, which sounds like there’s a lot of froth and the market is going to correct pretty aggressively. At least, I think so. So tell me about how your Amazon deal comes about.

03:57 —Jewel Burks: So it’s an interesting story. I was not setting out to sell my company at that time. I actually was setting out to get my CTO, who I mentioned, Dr. Nashlie Sephus, some more visibility. So I was personally feeling like I was doing too much speaking and talking about Partpic and needed to be focused more so on getting more customers and building the business as I was mentioning. And I thought that Nashlie actually has perhaps a more interesting story than I do as far as her background. And she’s from Jackson, Mississippi. She went to Mississippi State for Undergrad and Georgia Tech for her graduate work. And as I said, she’s one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met. So I wanted her to get on stages and have the opportunity to talk more about her work. And so I had started reaching out to different conferences and asking them, basically looking at their websites and seeing that they had no Black people, no women, definitely no women of color, and saying, hey, you know, I think I have someone who would help your conference. And so one of the conferences got back to me and they were like, yes, absolutely, we would love to have her come and speak. And so this was a deep learning conference in Boston and Nashlie did a presentation. She did an amazing job and Amazon corporate development was in the room during her presentation. So they came up to her afterwards, gave her a card and told her, this is great what you guys are doing. And then she comes back to the office on Monday morning, hands me a stack of cards. I’m flipping through the cards and I’m like, “Amazon corporate development, what did they want?” So followed up. And that’s really what started the conversation for the acquisition.

Jamarlin Martin: A high level executive at Facebook, a brother, he told me, you’re never going to sell your business unless you build your brand. And it sounds like, although it was one conference that fits right into that zone where people need to know about you, you need to build some relationships to improve your optionality in terms of how this plays out later on. So they email you, Amazon Corp Dev?

Jewel Burks: Yeah, we had an email exchange. I think we got on the phone maybe that next week after she got back from the conference. That was May, 2016. We didn’t at that time… So this is the interesting part of my story I think is that we were out raising a Series A at that time, trying to raise a Series A and we already had a couple of options on the table. We weren’t super happy with them. And so Amazon, it was all timing. It was like our options were continue to build the company, but give up control essentially.

Jamarlin Martin: Shady terms, dirty terms.

Jewel Burks: Yeah. Give up control. Many reasons why I think that is partially has to do with who we were as a team. As far as people undervaluing what we built because…

Jamarlin Martin: And that’s why I don’t like to talk about people accusing corporations and institutions of racism. Let’s just go to the Department of Justice and to the government, for example, Wells Fargo in terms of how they analyzed mortgage applications. The American government is busting these companies for being dirty towards us. And you’re saying as an entrepreneur that what we’ve seen in the mortgage market, you’re going to see it on the term sheets.

Jewel Burks: Oh yeah. It’s across the board. Yeah.

Jamarlin Martin: Is there a term that you use in terms of, if you get kind of, let’s call it a white-balled. Let’s reverse it. So you felt a certain way in terms of man, what’s up with these terms? This is like some sub prime mortgage.

08:14 —Jewel Burks: Totally. There would be things in those term sheets where I know for a fact they would never put it in anybody else’s. It was crazy.

Jamarlin Martin: So you have unfavorable terms, white-balled terms from investors. Then you have Amazon looking at your company. Do you start to think about, hey, it’s Amazon, but I need another bidder. I need someone bidding against Amazon.

Jewel Burks: Yes.

Jamarlin Martin: So how do you, how are you thinking about that?

Jewel Burks: Okay. So I don’t want to get into too much detail on this, but obviously if you’re going to sell your company, you need to have competition. It would be optimal if there was some type of bidding war cause then you can get more money. So the sad part of about my story is that a company like Amazon, as big as they are. If they put an offer on the table, they’re not going to leave it out there for you to go shop around.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. They’re not going to want you to shop their deal. They’re Amazon.

Jewel Burks: And like I said, I wasn’t in the market to sell my company at that time. So it’s not like I had people already at the table. It really was for me, okay, I can either go with the investors and continue to build the business or I can go with Amazon and say, okay, we had a great run, achieved x, y things and now we’re going to just sell the company, be able to continue working on the technology, launching technology in the app and the Amazon mobile app, and ultimately achieve the vision of getting this technology out to the masses. So that was really my decision. I personally didn’t have the ability to get more buyers to the table just because it was a short time window. I had to make a call.

Jamarlin Martin: And did you talk to any bankers?

Jewel Burks: Yeah, I did. So again, If I had more time I may have gone with a banker, but what I was looking at…

Jamarlin Martin: Based on my experience it’s a good thing you didn’t go with a banker.

Jewel Burks: Yeah, I heard mixed reviews about bankers, but I was really looking at the numbers and I was thinking, okay, I know how the pie is going to slice and I don’t want to put any more slices in the pie. And the banker’s going to take another slice, and I was already kind of far in the process. So I felt like, okay, I can manage this on my own.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. My experience with investment bankers that I’ve hired them is that because they’re, their hand is in the pot in terms of your overall deal, they’re getting some form of commission off of it, a success fee, that they’re pushing the valuation, they’re trying to push it too hard, higher, and where that could end you with no deal, essentially. And of course they’re over compensating.

Jewel Burks: Yeah, exactly. So because of how the timing of everything worked out, I already knew where I felt I had taken it. So a banker, in my opinion, would have been good if I had multiple buyers at the table. But given the circumstances of what I was doing, I felt like it’s not necessary.

Jamarlin Martin: Have you met people who criticized that decision where you did not go through some pricing discovery against Amazon? Because I know some very smart people like, Hey, I’m not shopping this deal against an Amazon. You can shop the deal against a different company, but if they’re ready to do a deal, I mess around and lose the bird in the hand by trying to play them and go through some pricing discovery.

Jewel Burks: Yeah. Let me just be like this. I tried to do it, but it was too short of a time window. It really was…

Jamarlin Martin: In terms of reaching out to a couple of companies, you’re going to reach out yourself.

12:14 —Jewel Burks: Yeah. Because I have relationships. I worked at Google for several years, so I knew people. I was trying to gain more people at the table. But it was just too quick.

Jamarlin Martin: Can you share what type of deadline?

Jewel Burks: It was very, very, very quick.

Jamarlin Martin: I guess they get the leverage on that. So you decide to do the deal. How long did the negotiations take with your council?

Jewel Burks: I decided to do that deal in around June. And we closed the deal on Oct. 31. So four or five months. And I would say that was the hardest, that back and forth. And just being on edge thinking, cause you never know. A lot of deals don’t work.

Jamarlin Martin: Due diligence.

Jewel Burks: There are so many things that could go wrong.

Jamarlin Martin: At this stage of due diligence when they’re going through your accounting and they’re going through your customers, were you scared that you could lose this deal and they can just walk away? This is after, of course you sign the LOI?

Jewel Burks: Yeah. Yes. There were many days where I was like, yeah, it’s not going to close because the thing also is you are providing all this information. So on the one hand you’re like, okay, this better close because they have everything. So if they want to, they could do whatever they want there. And also they’re the giant and I’m the small fish. So, I was very nervous throughout the whole process.

Jamarlin Martin: How polished was your organization in terms of your accounting, audits, and stuff like that. For the audience, when a buyer shows up ready to do a deal, your price could go down or you may lose the deal if they come in and see a disorganized house. You have to get back to them in five months on like some simple stuff. Talk about that process.

Jewel Burks: Well I had a couple of things that were going right for me, which is that, like I said, we had already started the process of raising a Series A. So we already had a lot of things in order just because of that. And just because we had been pretty organized just throughout the course of the company as far as the financials and the legal work and everything. The patents we filed, everything was in pretty good order. We did have to find some stuff, but also we hadn’t been operating for that long, so it wasn’t like we were going back 10 years to try to find stuff. We’ve been a company for three and a half, almost four years at the time, when we got acquired. So we have things in order. But there were a ton of things to provide. So I guess that’s a note to companies. Keep things in good order, make copies of everything. Put it all in a Dropbox or box or wherever you keep your files so that it’s easy to access.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. For companies, you could find a due diligence checklist online where you’re going to be guided on what a buyer would ask for, and the due diligence checklist that you can get online, you should just keep your business, keep things in order of the due diligence checklist. So when the time comes and Amazon comes to your door or another company, you already have the stuff that’s ready to go. You may be able to respond to the buyer or investor in a couple of days, essentially, if you keep your stuff in order.

16:07 —Jewel Burks: Yeah. In our case, it wasn’t really the due diligence that took that much time. It was the stock purchase agreement. It was the paperwork. Talking about all the terms of the deal, going back and forth between the legal teams. That took a significant amount of time.

Jamarlin Martin: And how long do they want you to stay on?

Jewel Burks: I’m still at Amazon.

Jamarlin Martin: Okay. Full time?

Jewel Burks: Yes. I work in the building next door. So yeah, I’m still there.

Jamarlin Martin: Okay. Can you share how long you have to be there according to the agreement?

Jewel Burks: So it’s not even that I have to be there. I am incentivized to be there for a certain amount of time.

Jamarlin Martin: Okay. So we’re going to change gears here and talk about a very hot topic. Kamala Harris.

Jewel Burks: Oh yeah. Okay.

Jamarlin Martin: Of course, another Howard Alumni, accomplished, successful. Let’s start off by saying, speak to brothers getting out of pocket in terms of criticizing Kamala Harris on, let’s call it unfair, uneven grounds. In terms of some of this stuff sounds very sexist and disrespectful. Speak to that crowd. But there’s another crowd that may have, of course, a legitimate critique that we’ll talk about.

Jewel Burks: Okay. So the crowd that I’ve seen on social media really attacking Senator Harris. I’m very disappointed in. I’m not surprised.

Jamarlin Martin: A lot of these people, they’re going to attack anything.

Jewel Burks: There are people who, I don’t know what they do for a living, but it seems like they spend most of their time online just attacking somebody. So Kamala is the person for this week.

Jamarlin Martin: You see a lot of out of pocket stuff, that you’re offended.

Jewel Burks: Yeah, I am. I am. And I think part of it is obviously, you know, politicians, I’m sure they know if they put themselves out there, their history and past and everything is open for discussion. But I think there’s a way to have respectful discourse about someone’s history.

Jamarlin Martin: You’re okay with people criticizing her policies?

Jewel Burks: I’m fine with criticism. I think it should be more balanced. And the thing that I’ve noted is that people are very quick to jump on her and there are other candidates who have said that they’re running or we have speculation about them running and there seems to be very limited discussion about what their background and policy is. And I think that we just have to be careful given who we currently have in office about demonizing somebody who’s, overly demonizing, because I think that’s a similar pattern that happened with Hillary. And I’ll speak for myself and say I would much rather have her as president today as our current president than our current president. So I’m just afraid that people going and spreading these ideas, which some of them may be valid. A lot of them are just soundbites that are not well researched. I’m scared that that is a similar pattern that we’ve seen before and I really, really, really don’t want to end up with another…

Jamarlin Martin: Are you locked in to supporting Kamala Harris where regardless of what other candidates are proposing, your voting for her anyway? You’re riding with Kamala Harris no matter what. Honestly. I’m banging for Kamala Harris and this is my team.

20:06 —Jewel Burks: Okay. This is tough. I am going to listen to each of the candidates. I’m going to hear out their agendas, what they want. I’m very interested in just listening and hearing everyone. I will say that Kamala has a very big advantage because she went to my university. I have met her and I think that from the interaction that I’ve had with her, I believe she’s a good person and I know that I could get to her. So she’s accessible.

Jamarlin Martin: Do you think once she’s elected, she’s going to be accessible? As president?

Jewel Burks: One of my very best friends in the world is working on her campaign right now. So I have people that maybe I can’t get to her, but I know people that can get to her. I think that’s important. I want to be able to reach the people who are in power. So I say she has an advantage because I’ve met her. I liked the interaction I had with her. I think that she’s a brilliant woman. I like the way that she interacts with folks and is not scared to say what she believes. And her interaction in the Kavanaugh hearings, I felt yes, I want somebody like her who is not about the bull, but I will say I think that there are things that need to be examined and I want her to directly answer some questions regarding some of the things in her past. So I’m going to be listening attentively as she presents her ideas and as the other candidates present their ideas, she has a advantage, but I’m listening to everybody else as well.

Jamarlin Martin: So when you hear specifically brothers, and let’s say a brother brings up, hey, you know, Kamala Harris, she wanted to lock poor moms up when their kids were being truant. I don’t give her a high grade on criminal justice reform in terms of when she was in those important roles. Of course she’s moving in the right direction, closer to the election, in my opinion. But when you hear those types of critiques, are you putting these people in boxes where you’re skeptical, like agendas or do you think there’s a legitimate line of critique of Kamala Harris.

Jewel Burks: So I think the people who are so gung ho about her not being the candidate already before we even know who all the people are. I think I put those people in a box because I feel like that’s very aggressive for this point in time.

Jamarlin Martin: Okay. So you believe that Kamala Harris is gonna bang for, let’s call it, inequality in terms of, of course you have lobbyists, big corporations, Wall Street, Silicon Valley. I think that’s a big issue. Would you give her a higher grade on reliably banging against inequality then a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren?

Jewel Burks: Well, given the fact that, has Bernie even said he’s running?

Jamarlin Martin: He hasn’t announced it yet, but let’s assume that he’s gonna run.

Jewel Burks: Okay. So again, I would love to see them in a debate environment and I would love to hear each of their points as the questions are being asked to them. To the question you had about the truant parent, that’s a theme I’ve seen recently, people showing the video of her talking about that. And then I dug in a little bit more and I read an article about that policy and what were the results of it? And it said that 20 parents were arrested during that time for their children not attending school. And I would love to have a conversation about that. Personally, I know that there are reasons why the parent wouldn’t be in control, but also, what should the consequences be? Why should it be that kids can just not go to school? So I think that’s something worth talking about. I don’t think the attack of, oh well she had this policy, she’s bad. That’s just ended the conversation. I think we should dialogue. So what should we do.

Jamarlin Martin: A respectful conversation.

24:42 —Jewel Burks: How do we solve that problem? Anyway, I say all that to say I think it’s worth conversations and us not just saying this is not my candidate because x, y and z, or putting up a little snippet of a video that’s lacking context. I would just like for us to be having more dialogues about, okay, we all know there’s big problems in this country. How do we reasonably address them? And she had a certain seat as a prosecutor where she was trying to do the best that she knew in her role and position. And that’s the angle that some people were like, oh, Kamala was a cop. So I’m not voting for her, period. That’s it. Wait a minute, what?

Jamarlin Martin: I don’t think that’s a reason not to support her?

Jewel Burks: Yeah. There is a group where that is their thing. That’s it.

Jamarlin Martin: Because she’s a cop and I don’t like cops.

Jewel Burks: Okay, well how do you feel about crime? What do you mean you don’t like cops? That’s not reasonable. So I think we just have to come in with a little bit more level-headedness and just a little bit more dialogue and then we might get somewhere.

Jamarlin Martin: What would you say to the people out there that say, “Look, Obama was good for that time, but we’ve seen that stuff and Obama was a good president, but at this time we need someone a bit more radical in terms of inequality and some of this other stuff. Lobbying, big tech, Wall Street. We need somebody who’s going to go against the lobbyists, go against these powerful corporations.” Obama was good for that time, but an Obama 2.0. We need something different this time. And Kamala Harris is a little bit too close to the center, too safe.

Jewel Burks: Okay. So what I would say is, can the country sustain such wide swings in such short periods of time? Right now we have somebody in the office in the presidency who if they could have found a more opposite person to President Obama, I don’t think they could have found a more opposite person. So that is a huge swing between what we had from 2008 to 2016, and what we have now. To me, first of all, you have to think about electability. Can a person who is way more radical than president Obama or Kamala Harris be elected by the whole country. That’s what we got to ask. We can’t just go based on… We have to think about how do we get this man out? We can’t think about, we got to go totally far, far left.

Jamarlin Martin: You don’t think that that’s a privilege position where let’s say the folks in Harlem and Watts and Compton and south side of Chicago where hey, there’s a lot of issues here around the country and if you’re saying that the best thing we’re going to do this time, another four or eight years, is we’re going to go back to Obama. And we of course are not benefiting. A lot of us are getting left behind with the rise of inequality. That’s not anything to look forward to for a lot of people, if you say that we’re going to go back to a safe Obama.

Jewel Burks: Well first of all I would challenge the idea that Kamala is Obama…

Jamarlin Martin: She is close to an Obama center.

28:21 —Jewel Burks: I’ve heard her say some things that I didn’t hear President Obama say. Different time, different issues.

Jamarlin Martin: Not the same, but it’s kinda like the center of the party. You see her kind of rallying. She’s in the center. She’s not far left like I believe Warren and Sanders are to the left of her. She’s more kind of in the middle of the road where a lot more people are comfortable, including from me perspective, big corporations.

Jewel Burks: Yeah. So I think that I’ve got to go back to what I was saying about what candidate is going to win.

Jamarlin Martin: So your vote potentially, could be different if you didn’t analyze who could actually win? Is that what it is?

Jewel Burks: Well, I’m going to vote my interests. Right? So speaking from a place of privilege, I am very concerned about people who are in poverty, people who do not have healthcare, all of these different demographics. I am concerned about these folks and I do work to help these folks. I’m also concerned about taxes, or I have other things that I’m interested in and worried about as well. So for me being a person who cares about people in general, I’m going to vote for the candidate that I feel like is going to do the most good, what I deem to be good. So again, I have to listen to everybody. I think from my interaction that Kamala has a similar vantage point, so right now she’s my front runner and also I think she’s electable. And I think she is going to be able to do the best winning folks who might be Republican but can’t mess with Trump anymore. I think she probably has a better chance of getting those people on board than Bernie Sanders, maybe.

Jamarlin Martin: With your friend working on the Kamala Harris campaign, do you have any insight on her rollout of how to deal with…

Jewel Burks: I have no clue.

Jamarlin Martin: Amazon, Google and Facebook and a lot of this stuff that’s going on there.

Jewel Burks: No, I don’t get the meeting notes.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. What I think is going to come up is… It hasn’t come up. From my perspective, Hey, you were a cop. That’s not a deal breaker, right? You’re a district attorney. We need people in those roles. We need good people in those roles. You were attorney general, you were in those roles. That’s not a deal breaker on its own. But if I believe what’s going to play out is America is headed into a recession, possibly a crisis.

Jewel Burks: I think that’s going to happen before 2020.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. For sure. Okay, so we’re on the same page there, but if America goes to an occupy Silicon Valley, like they did an occupy Wall Street, people are gonna say, “Hey, you were locking a lot of poor folks up as district attorney, as attorney general, you’re the chief cop of the state, including corporations. What were you doing with the rise of these beast corporations who are monopolizing the economy and contributing to inequality? How were you policing Google and Facebook, while you were attorney general?” Of course, in New York, people expect the New York Attorney General, that is the kind of the cop for Wall Street, for the corporations out there. But I think there’s going to be attention because the what’s going on in Silicon Valley in terms of contributing to inequality, people are going to be looking for stuff to blame. Why is this economy so messed up?

32:36 —Jewel Burks: Do you think that falls into her…?

Jamarlin Martin: Jurisdiction? I think so in terms of what were you doing, at least in 2013, the consumer advocacy group, they raised the question of we want to see her bang against some of these big tech corporations in 2013, like we see the New York AG in New York. And so, if more attention, because you’ve seen the layoffs with Buzzfeed and the layoffs are starting to accelerate, is that if that attention turns to Silicon Valley where they’re the punching bag and they’re like, you’ve got to blame for them for the recession. Nobody can get a job. Robots, all this stuff. Some attention can say, look, if you’re going to be the cop locking everyone up, district attorney, AG, how were you policing these big corporations? Why no energy over there when you were in office?

Jewel Burks: Hmm. That is really interesting. Okay. I’m very curious to see if that comes up because my first thought is, well, that feels like a little bit of a stretch.

Jamarlin Martin: It sounds like you want to say that’s a lie.

Jewel Burks: I follow where are you going with it? I don’t know the exact job description of attorney general and what they police and what they don’t, but I will say that, I lived in Oakland for two years when I was working at Google straight out of college, this was 2010 to 2012, and I went outside of my personal issues, one of the things I hated the most about living out there was the fact that I felt like I was contributing to the huge gap between the folks who are from Oakland, living in Oakland, not working in the tech industry and the people that are just coming in, working at Google and Facebook and Apple or whatever. I could see it as plain as day. I was living in my nice apartment, paying way too much for rent and I was seeing the prostitution, drug use, right on my street. Every single day it hurt me so bad to see that. If I run for office in 20 years will someone say, well, Jewel, you were living in Oakland, you know what I’m saying? I felt bad about that. I don’t know what I could do to help. I mean, she was an elected official, but I don’t know. I think companies need to be held accountable for that. Why is it okay for these top corporations to displace all these people?

Jamarlin Martin: It’s just greed.

Jewel Burks: I don’t know if we should blame Kamala for that.

Jamarlin Martin: So during the election, if you start seeing specifically, let’s stay focused on Black men. If you start seeing Black men go over to folks more so on the left, more radical. Elizabeth Warren, I think she scores high in terms of her track record against big corporations. When you see people like, Hey, I’m not supporting Kamala Harris, I’m supporting Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, I’m voting white. They’re not saying that, but that’s actually what they’re doing. Do you feel a certain way in terms of loyalty where, hey, the Black voter won’t vote for the Black candidate. Do you feel a certain way? Like, Hey, you should be riding for our people in these positions, and I’m disappointed. Do you have an emotional thought when you see that?

36:41 —Jewel Burks: I do have an emotional thought just because I think people are not even giving Kamala a chance. First of all, she just announced a week ago and we’re already saying, oh, she’s not my candidate. Folks are already saying that.

Jamarlin Martin: But the thing is, not to cut you off, but the thing is, for a lot of people, and I’m not talking about the crazy folks, the disrespectful folks, the sexist folks, but a lot of people, I can’t go by what the politician, because the Black community has been abused by the Democratic Party so much. All races in the Democratic Party have abused the Black community in my view, has exploited the Black community.

Jewel Burks: You mean as a block of voters, just taken advantage?

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. So you guys don’t have a place to go essentially. You’re not going to vote MAGA. You’re not going to vote Bush, so you’re going to vote us if you’re going to vote. So because the corporate side of the Democratic Party, the ones that are really friendly with lobbyists and corporations, because we’ve been abused and exploited for so long, in the Democratic party, our voter equity is not what we should be getting because we don’t have any optionality. There’s not really an option to go Republican. We can’t go by at the time of the election, what you’re saying now or what you’re saying in the future because of the history, the relationship between the Democratic Party and Black people here in the United States, we can only go by what has happened in the past. Politicians are going to optimize for getting votes, winning the electoral college and hooking people in. But we want to discount what you say now because of the history and the relationship. The only thing we can really go by is a track record. And so Kamala Harris, her track record is out there and that’s what folks really need to be evaluating. What would you say about that?

Jewel Burks: Okay. That’s fine, but I think people just need to be cognizant of what her position was. So you can go by the track record, but she’s never been president before. You know what I’m saying? She’s never been in this type of position. So the position she was in was to be an enforcer of the law. That’s slightly different in terms of framing than even some of the other candidates, what their background and history has been. So I think it’s fine to ask questions about certain things that she did, but it’s important to understand, first of all, what were the desired goals of those particular policies that she had in place? How does she measure up against those goals? I mean, did she achieve them? Did she not achieve them? Instead of looking at it as a wide stroke of, “Oh, she locked many people up”. Well did those people deserve to be locked up? Let’s talk about that.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. So what I’m talking about is not just criminal justice reform, but other things. For example, Joe Biden. And to your point, you gotta be fair in terms of evaluating the candidates. Joe Biden of course voted for the Clinton Crime Bill. Joe Biden voted for the Iraq war where hundreds of thousands of people died. Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq war, supported the Clinton Crime Bill of her husband. So when we look at these things and if we were to evaluate each candidate, I believe we need to be looking at the fact that Barack Obama did not vote for the Iraq war. Bernie Sanders did not vote for the Iraq war. Elizabeth Warren did not vote for the Iraq war. When we shouldn’t just look at criminal justice reform and Kamala Harris’s record in California, but where does she fit in terms of the facts, evidence, and history where, is she more of the Biden and Clinton where they’re voting for mass incarceration? Because at the time it’s the popular thing, they’re going to war in Iraq. Or is she more of, I don’t really trust the establishment and I’m on another side.

41:07 —Jewel Burks: Yeah. I mean I think we should interrogate that. We should talk about that. We should see where do we feel that she ranks as far as our personal ideologies and all of that. I also think we should listen to what she has to say today because people evolve over time. She’s in her fifties, she’s had a 30-plus year career so far. What she said in 1997, she might have a very different opinion. I have different opinions about things. I grew up in the south, in Nashville. There were things I was not exposed to until I got to Howard. And then I was like, oh, okay, this is different. I have a different idea about this. People evolve over time. I think that’s something we should leave room for as well is, yeah, we’re going to look at your record, but we’re also going to look at what are you saying today and what is the policy that you have put out there that you want to make happen if you become president. How does that line up with what we believe? So I think we have to leave room for that too.

Jamarlin Martin: Good point. I want to invite Kamala Harris on the show. Hopefully we can get her on the show to answer some tough questions, like we got Andrew Gillum, but I wanted to say thanks Jewel Burks for coming on the show. Where can people check you out online?

Jewel Burks: So I am on Twitter @JewelMelanie, also Instagram @JewelMelanie. My website is http://www.jewelburks.com/ and yeah, I’m around in Atlanta.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. I want to thank the queen of tech, here in ATL, Jewel Burks is doing the damn thing. She’s inspiring people. She’s working on initiatives to get more entrepreneurs into this game, I’m really excited about the stuff you’re working on and what you’re doing here in ATL.

Jewel Burks: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me.

Jamarlin Martin: Thanks everybody for listening to GHOGH. You can check me out @JamarlinMartin on Twitter and also come check us out at Moguldom.com. That’s M O G U L D O M.com. Be sure to subscribe to our daily newsletter. You can get the latest information on crypto, tech, economic empowerment and politics. Let’s GHOGH!