The majority of venture capital dollars flow to the Bay Area and New York, but Melinda Gates is trying to change that.
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The founder of Pivotal Ventures announced a new initiative Tuesday to support women in the technology industry by developing emerging tech hubs. Pivotal is committing $50 million toward the initiative, which will focus on three cities in the U.S. over five years–beginning with Chicago.
The Gender Equality in Tech (GET) Cities Initiative is looking to tackle underrepresentation by women in tech–a known issue in the industry that hasn’t been quick to change. GET Cities aims to “maximize the impact of local women-in-tech efforts, crowd in other funders, and foster local coordination that can accelerate the pace of change, nationally,” according to a statement from Pivotal Ventures.
Its goal is to address the issue by focusing on emerging tech hubs, AKA places that aren’t Silicon Valley or New York.
“Recently, however, there have been signs that other metropolitan cities around the country have potential to be America’s next promising hubs for tech, especially as the demand for more accessible and affordable cities continues to grow,” the statement read.
More Capital For Chicago Companies
The Windy City is already a burgeoning venture capital and tech hub. Major tech companies including Google and Salesforce have offices in Chicago, and a number of Chicago-based startups have found success. Sprout Social, for example, recently went public.
But while the city certainly has promise, Chicago didn’t crack the top 10 cities in the U.S. for VC funding (cities in the Bay Area, New York, Boston and Seattle made up the list, and Austin was the only non-coastal location). Chicago did, however, make the list of top 10 cities in the U.S. by count of VC deals.
Chicago-based companies pulled in about $1.5 billion in venture capital in 2019, according to Crunchbase data.
“As a Midwest destination for many large, technology companies and home to an increasing number of VC firms supporting local startups, Chicago is ideally suited for a collaborative stakeholder effort to advance women in tech alongside existing efforts like P33, a civic and social organization dedicated to transforming Chicago into a tier one technology and innovation hub and promoting inclusive economic growth,” the statement read.
Pivotal Ventures looked at a number of cities and considered factors like access to capital, the local business community, and “the current and future sources of diverse talent to computing degree programs and industry.”