“We need more talented black VCs.” Say less.

“Yo, when I started recording I swore it was more important/To get to Soul Train with a gold chain and Jordans/What to do my own way and then chart a way forward /I come from the old days when vision was too distorted” – Black Thought

What’s up, y’all!

I got my first taste of the power of venture capital in 2014, when I started covering technology as a journalist in Indianapolis.

A year earlier, in 2013, software giant Salesforce acquired local tech company ExactTarget for $2.5 billion. It was a massive buyout that made many of ExactTarget’s first employees multi-millionaires overnight (the CEO alone reportedly earned $72.8 million from the deal). Many ExactTarget alumni took advantage of their newfound wealth to launch or invest in a new generation of startups that would hopefully repeat the cycle. What made this possible? A key ingredient was venture capital, which allowed ExactTarget to mature quickly, go public, and become an attractive acquisition prospect.

I had fun covering the ripple effects of buying. But it was hard to shake off the fact that black people were notably absent from ExactTarget’s management team, as well as from the ranks of the venture capitalists who invested there. No matter who was to blame – individuals or systems – black people weren’t really there for that $2.5 billion. This story is not unique to ExactTarget.

There are signs of change, including on the VC side. This week, we have stories about two black celebrities who became venture capitalists, driven in part by a desire to make the industry more inclusive. Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, the lead rapper of The Roots, joined venture capital firm Impellent Ventures earlier this year and spoke with Forbes on his approach there. And, from the archives, we have a 2019 cover story about tennis superstar Serena Williams and her venture capital firm Serena Ventures, which she should focus more on after her retirement from tennis. “I want to be remembered for the things I do off the pitch,” she said. Forbes“lives that I have been able to touch and voices that have been heard through mine.”

Williams and Trotter are among other wealthy athletes and artists, including rapper Nas and basketball star Kevin Durant, who have become venture capitalists. The late Kobe Bryant was a successful investor with his venture capital firm Bryant Stibel & Co., said Marlon Nichols, co-founder and managing partner of MaC Venture Capital. “I think it’s awesome,” Nichols said of Trotter’s entry into space. throughout his life. »

While black celebrities alone can’t change the lack of black leadership in venture capital, such initiatives are always exciting to see, said Jamison Hill, general partner at venture capital firm Base10 Partners. And they can bring a lot of value to portfolio companies, he said. “How do you build a brand? How do you connect with consumers? How do you tell and amplify that message? All of those things are very relevant for venture-backed companies.”

Staying up!

This edition of the bulletin was published on August 31, 2022.

The Roots rapper is leading the way, from ‘The Tonight Show’ to venture capital. Tariq Trotter, aka Black Thought, performed in front of millions on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Still, he said he felt butterflies when news broke that he would be joining venture capital firm Impellent Ventures as a general partner.

After tennis, here’s how Serena Williams builds her investment off the court. Williams, who in 2019 was the first professional athlete to appear on Forbes’ list of America’s richest self-made women, has been quietly building a venture capitalist presence.

The family behind the hit YouTube children’s series ‘Gracie’s Corner’ says longer videos are “in the works”. The sing-along animated series features a black teenager named Gracie, singing and dancing to catchy tunes on topics ranging from the ABCs to loving her hair. The series drew 77 million views on YouTube in July, up from 7.2 million views in February.

Meet America’s Top Employers by State 2022. While many of the characteristics of a top employer are universal, such as fair pay, safe working conditions and an inclusive culture, other priorities have emerged in recent years. The Covid-19 pandemic and heightened awareness of racial injustice has changed employers’ expectations.

I want to be the brand, instead of just the face.

—Serena Williams, 23-time Grand Slam champion and venture capitalist

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