Last year U.S. venture capital invested a record $150 billion in domestic startups. This same year, less than 3% of VC dollars went to Black and Latinx founders and a little over 2% to women-led startups. Although there has been mounting pressure on the industry to diversify their portfolio companies and investment teams for years, 2020 was the start of a more concerted effort to foster more equitable representation across the ecosystem with the formation of new funds and D&I commitments. We will discuss what progress has been made over the last year and explore what actionable steps need to be taken as we continue to help close the race and gender gaps in venture capital.
About the speakers:
- Mercedes Bent is a Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners. She invests in consumer, fintech, EdTech and US/LATAM. She is invested in and works with companies including Forage, StoriCard, Outschool, Flockjay, FCFL, United Dwelling and Honeylove. Previously she served as an executive at a VR startup and a General Manager at General Assembly.
- Sydney Sykes is the Co-founder of Blck VC, a non profit focused on empowering Black investors and increasing diversity in Venture Capital. Sydney moved to San Francisco in 2016 to work as an early stage investor at NEA. After a few years in venture, she moved to Dolls Kill to work on the growth and strategy of their native brands.
- Neal Sáles-Griffin is the Managing Director of Techstars Chicago and an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering, where he teaches entrepreneurship. He is an entrepreneur, teacher, and investor, co-founded the first beginner-focused in-person coding bootcamp, and most recently ran for mayor of Chicago.
- Jessica Lessin founded The Information in 2013 and is the publication’s Editor-in-Chief. She covered Silicon Valley and the technology industry for eight years at the Wall Street Journal. Jessica graduated from Harvard University in 2005 and lives in San Francisco.