I once read on TechCrunch.com that less than 2% of venture capitalists are black. I suspect once you tack “woman” on to that, the number plummets even further.
As the name of the blog might suggest, African Americans in venture capital are small in number. Further, for Black women and other women of color, it’s not just small, it's miniscule. We are a rarity. We're hard to find. We're unicorns.
In that same TechCrunch article, ("Why Are There So Few Black Investors?"), Richard Kerby, a Vice President at Venrock, offers a listing of over 200 VC firms where he identifies black investors. Of 1,897 total investors, only 32 were black and only 1 was a black woman. The list wasn't exhaustive, but it was pretty damn close. He goes on to note the National Venture Capital Association has recognized this gap and has taken up the priority of diversifying the field. The NVCA Diversity Task Force's goal is "to develop a clear and measurable path to increase opportunities for women and men of diverse backgrounds to thrive in venture capital and entrepreneurship". So, I'll keep my eye on it and see how that pans out (I'm looking at you, Silicon Valley)...
All of the grim numbers aside, there is an amazing light at the end of the tunnel. Last week, I got invited to a super cool get-together: “Women of Color in VC Summer Celebration.” I was connected to one of the hosts, Sydney, through a fellow MBA intern at Omidyar Network. Thanks JaRet! Normally I don’t get to go to the city very often (because it's like...far ;-)) so I was excited to journey up to meet some fellow women in the venture game.
We were hosted at the NEA (New Enterprise Associates) office in San Francisco for the evening and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how beautiful their offices are. Such a cool, inviting space. There were about 20 game-changing women in attendance from so many different ethnicities and roles in venture who were all working to break down the same barriers. We had representation from several firms like Kapor Capital, Reach Capital, and Maveron. It felt really encouraging, inspiring and just plain nice to connect, share stories and ideas about where the field is heading.
This was the fourth meeting of its kind. "The Women of Color in VC dinners were co-founded by me and Siri Srinivas, who used to be an investor at Funders Club. We thought of the idea over lunch one day. We wanted to create a safe space for our community to talk about our experiences, but also saw it as a networking opportunity to share deal flow and notes on different investing topics," said co-founder Sydney Thomas, an Investment Associate & Head of Operations at Precursor Ventures. "I'm so grateful to have grown this group with Siri from an idea to a quarterly event that the community looks forward to." Sydney and Siri knew that the strength of this community was built on it's intersectionality. They strived to make sure that all women of color were seen and recognized in this group.
As a Black Girl in Venture, I'm excited to stay involved with this group and learn from them as I continue to grow in this space! We're on the come up y'all! #unicornlife #blackgirlmagic
Check out Sydney’s Medium post listing all the current Black women in venture capital: https://medium.com/@sydneythomas/the-list-of-black-women-in-vc-dff25e8d52dc
On another note, if you read my post about Zebit a few weeks back, you’ll see that one of the tasks I set for myself was to find a way to chat with someone from NEA because they’ve invested really early on quite a few companies that I love (insert a few here). So…it looks like the universe is working in my favor!