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The Talent x Opportunity Fund will be led by a16z partner Nait Jones and is starting with $2.2 million in donations from the firm’s partners. The fund will be a donor advisory fund (meaning it has tax benefits for the donors), and a16z will invest in exchange for equity. But all the returns will go back to the fund for future investments.
The announcement comes amid protests across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd. However, the firm noted that the fund had been in the works for the past six months.
“We’re venture capitalists, not activists,” the announcement read. “We support the amazing work that people are doing to fix policing specifically, the criminal justice system more generally, and many other efforts, but our direct contribution will be doing what we do best: To help entrepreneurs be better entrepreneurs, so they can build great businesses that in turn create jobs and value for others.”
In addition to capital, a16z will be supporting entrepreneurs with training programs, according to the announcement. A16z co-founder Ben Horowitz and his wife, Horowitz Family Foundation founder Felicia Horowitz, will also match up to an additional $5 million total in other donations to the fund.
“We are looking for entrepreneurs who did not have access to the fast track in life but who have great potential. Their products can be non-tech or tech; they should be from underserved communities (all backgrounds welcome); and ideally, their business will have an interesting model, niche market, and/or a little traction to indicate the promise and potential.”
We should note that this is far from a16z’s first foray into funding and supporting diverse entrepreneurs. For example, the company also has a Cultural Leadership Fund focused on connecting limited partners like Shonda Rhimes, Quincy Jones and Kevin Durant to tech startups. The Cultural Leadership Fund’s fees and carry are donated to nonprofits that help African Americans enter the tech industry.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias