ABOVE PHOTO: Will Smith (Photo: Shutterstock)
By Clarissa Hamlin
A lack of diversity in the tech world has been a long-running problem that has prompted many suggestions. One fix has focused on forming partnerships with Black celebrities, politicians and public figures with leaders in the business and financial worlds, as well as those in Silicon Valley.
Recently, a new venture-capital fund was announced that includes a number of Black investors, athletes and even media figures, the Wall Street Journal reported. Silicon Valley venture capital company Andreessen Horowitz will launch the roughly $15 million fund— titled “Culture” — that comprises the investment money of a limited number of African-American partners.
Let’s break down who is down with “Culture”— and who else is making big money moves to boost representation in tech.
Durant, who had a stellar year by winning a second consecutive NBA championship with the Golden State Warriors in June, has been brought on as a partner with “Culture.” The basketball star is also founder of Durant Co., an investment vehicle targeting tech startups.
Given that Smith has played several film characters who relied on advance fictional technologies to save the day, it seems befitting that the actor’s personal life would also include a fascination with the tech world. Smith has joined in the “Culture” fund, according to the WSJ.
Beyoncé and her Parkwood Entertainment management company put $150,000 into Sidestep, an app for buying concert merchandise and skipping the line to pick it up at the show, according to Tech Crunch.
The rapper, who is one of the highest paid lyricists in the business, invested in Music Messenger, a service allowing users to send and receive full songs from their smartphones to anyone on their contact list.
Sean “Diddy” Combs
Combs, who is one of Forbes “wealthiest” people, was a primary investor in TinyChat, a video chat platform that was acquired by video chat room community Paltalk in 2014.
Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter
Jay-Z teamed up with Roc Nation President Jay Brown and Silicon Valley pro Larry Marcus of San Francisco-based Walden Venture Capital to launch Marcy Venture Capital Partners — a name that seemingly paid homage to his childhood home in Brooklyn, New York. The company was announced in June.
The rapper, whose real name is Nasir Jones, founded the Los Angeles-based Queens Bridge Venture Partners, which “funnels cash into start-ups as varied as health care, financial technology and bitcoin,” CNBC reported.
The venture capital world clearly also needs more Black women in it. However, it’s good to see people of color becoming venture capitalists, though only about 3 percent of them are Black. Fifty-eight percent of VCs are white and male, according to a report on 1,500 venture capital partners across the nation by Richard Kerby, an African-American venture capitalist with New York-based Equal Ventures.