With groups across the country protesting George Floyd’s death, venture capitalists and startups have weighed in, expressing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and the black community overall.
But talk is cheap, and actions speak louder than words.
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In the world of VC, that means supporting entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented groups, not only through advice and networking but through investing as well. Tweeting support is one thing, writing checks for black entrepreneurs is another–and the latter is what really counts.
Here are seven powerful statements from firms and funds dedicated to investing in diverse founders and teams.
Note: We understand that this is by no means a complete list of firms dedicated to diversity, so stay tuned for more coverage.
What it does: Invests in seed-stage companies.
“The Precursor team is grieving the loss of our brothers and sister to police violence. We are an all black team. We invest in black founders. We believe that their lives and our lives matter. We remain steadfast in our efforts to create a more just venture ecosystem. We stand alongside those who work to combat the effects that institutional racism and police brutality have on communities of color.”
What it does: Invests in seed and early-stage startups that address social needs, with a focus on diversity.
“This moment calls for more than words (and donations). Every aspect of business as usual needs disruption. We need actions so never again will we have two Americas, one privileged by wealth, opportunity, and safety and the other shackled by skin color and zip code. Some of us can turn off social media, choose not to watch horrific videos and retreat to comfortable private lives, but that escape is a luxury not all of us have. That’s white privilege and those of us who are white must understand and dismantle it…. Never lose sight–every action you take and those you don’t are political acts–where you work, spend your (money), the clothes you wear, the media you consume and who/what you invest in. Choose wisely and justly.”
You can read Kapor Capital’s complete call to action here.
Lo Toney, Plexo Capital Founding Managing Partner
What Plexo Does: Invests in emerging venture capital funds and early-stage companies.
“As an allocator of capital, it is not enough to invest in one company led by a “diverse” entrepreneur and check the box—it is now time to expand your network to find high potential Black entrepreneurs in your areas of investment and invest in them.”
You can read Toney’s complete post here.
What it does: Invests in early-stage companies led by diverse founders, aiming to invest in 1,000 founders over the next 20 years.
“While the protests are striking, we encourage people to focus on the root cause of these events, which are racism, injustice, and oppression. Words can be meaningful, but actions speak louder. Actions like texting a black colleague, educating yourself and your network, speaking up publicly, voting in elections and voting with your dollars are the start of meaningful change. As a firm with a mission focused on increasing access for minorities and women, we continue to focus on economic empowerment and using our energy to make the world a more equitable place. We cannot achieve this mission alone and will need your support to help uplift our communities. It is not radical to want safety, freedom, justice, and economic opportunity. It is American.”
You can read the full statement here.
What it does: Invests in companies led by underrepresented founders.
“Investors–we are here to help you invest in more Black and underrepresented founders. We will help curate lists for you and make direct connections. DM for more info.”
Chris Lyons, Andreessen Horowitz Cultural Leadership Fund
What it does: Connects cultural leaders to tech companies. Limited partners include Shonda Rhimes, Quincy Jones and Kevin Durant. Fees and carry from the fund are donated to nonprofits helping African Americans enter the tech industry.
“Protect our black owned businesses by any means. Black entrepreneurs work day in and out to pull us out of past conditions, and embody what Black excellence looks like in America. If you destroy their vision for making a better Black America, you destroy our hope for a future.”
Miriam Rivera, Ulu Ventures Managing Director
What it does: Invests in early-stage IT companies.
“Let us be allies to communities of all colors and women in these painful times. African Americans, LatinX, Asians, Native Americans, and immigrants and are suffering distinctly in this pandemic. Also let us understand that all Americans and the world share in the great suffering of this pandemic, particularly first-responders, police included, the poor, the incarcerated, the homeless, the elderly, the unemployed, and women. ‘In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends (MLK).’ ”
Illustration: Dom Guzman