How Serena Williams has helped 14 companies reach unicorn status

Abu Mubarik May 07, 2024
Serena Williams. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Serena Williams is undoubtedly one of the greatest tennis players to grace the court. In her prime, she combined her tennis career with investing in business. In 2014, she launched Serena Ventures — a venture capital fund — after having had more than ten years of experience in investing.

Through Serena Ventures, she has invested in multiple companies, and some have even reached Unicorn status. Serena Ventures targets women and underrepresented founders, as per its LinkedIn profile.

“I invest in a lot of companies, early companies, and I’ve always done this,” Williams explained in a TikTok video last month, as originally reported by AfroTech. “I’ve actually been investing for over 14 years and just been an entrepreneur while I was playing tennis. It’s super important for me to make a plan B while I was doing my plan A.”

She said she was motivated to go into venture funding because of the struggles blacks and women go through to get funding. Due to the targeted nature of her funding, her company’s portfolio comprises 79% underrepresented founders, 54% women founders, 47% Black founders, and 11% Latino founders.

“I learned that less than 2% of all VC money went to women. And when I first heard that, I actually thought it was a misquote. I thought, ‘Well, they can’t be real.’ Like, we’re talking about trillions of dollars, and what do you mean less than 2% of that goes to women?…I learned that when I first started investing, I learned that actually was true and that was something that was happening. And so I knew right then and there that one day I wanted to raise a fund or raise money and invest in women,” she noted.

“I also learned that even less went to people of color. So I thought, ‘My goodness. I’m a Black woman and say my name isn’t Serena Williams, or I hadn’t had a career, that means I would have less than, well, not even less than 2%, a fraction of a chance to get money if I wanted to start a company,’” she further added.

So far, she has invested in over 80 companies, including Impossible Foods and MasterClass, an edutech platform which was valued at $2.75 billion in 2021. She also estimates that 14 of her portfolio companies have gone on to reach unicorn status.

“I’ve invested, in my personal portfolio, in over 85 companies [maybe], and I also have about 14 unicorns,” Williams said via TikTok.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 7, 2024


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