Basketball star Kevin Durant, actor Will Smith and Essence magazine publisher Richelieu Dennis have backed a venture capital fund of $15 million launched by Silicon Valley venture firm Andreessen Horowitz to boost the black community’s involvement in tech.
The partnership was announced on Monday by the Wall Street Journal adding that the fund will operate alongside Andreessen Horowitz’s main $1.5 billion fund but won’t operate like a normal fund.
This comes at a time when diversity is lacking in the tech industry with white males dominating the workforce. Women and minority employees are the least employed in the industry with only a few moving up on the management ladder.
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According to a survey by the National Venture Capital Association and Deloitte, women accounted for 11 percent of venture capital firms’ investment partners in 2016 while Latinos made up 2 percent of investment partners at the firms surveyed and none employed black investment partners.
The quest for diversity inspired the launching of the $36 million fund by Backstage Capital in May to invest in businesses backed by black female founders.
The firm’s founder and managing partner Arlan Hamilton said the fund will award black female entrepreneurs $1 million at a time to bridge the funding divide between investors and black women in the male-dominated landscape.
They’re calling it a “diversity fund.” I’m calling it an IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME fund.
— Arlan ?? (@ArlanWasHere) May 6, 2018