This has been an important week for our country. For the tech industry, it hits close to home:
- African Americans are 14% of the U.S. population but receive less than 1% of venture capital.
- Black workers only make up between 1-2% of the workforce at several prominent tech companies.
- Black men represent only 2% of employees at VC firms. Black women don’t even rank a full percentage point.
Powderkeg supports the Black community in the face of systemic racism and injustice. There’s a lot of work to be done in our industry and in our country to help provide equal opportunity for all—no matter who you are, what you do, or where you live.
We did not publish podcast episodes this week to make more space for the important conversation happening right now and there is so much more we can be doing to help make a difference. More to come on that front.
You’ll find some of the most important articles surrounding this topic in today’s email, as well as some of the other top stories from this week.
In today’s edition of The Spark:
- $100 Mill. for Founders of Color
- Opportunity Sky Rockets
- ️Cali Jobs Move Inland
This Week’s Stories…
$100 Million for Founders of Color
Tokyo based SoftBank announced a new investment fund to help back entrepreneurs of color, part of its contribution to trying to redress the imbalance of power as it has played out in the tech world. Launching the Opportunity Growth Fund, SoftBank’s COO Marcelo Claure announced that the fund will initially start with $100 million and “will only invest in companies led by founders and entrepreneurs of color.”
Midwest VCs Stand Together In Support
Mary Grove and other members of the VC community in Minneapolis affirmed their values and commitment by standing with the BLM movement. Following the murder of George Floyd, Forge North announced their focus to “level the playing field” for access to capital in the tech community, stating, “We are committed to broadening and demystifying the closed networks that usually accompany venture capital.”
From our Minnesota VC community to our entrepreneur community: we stand with you fully & will not tolerate racial injustice. We are deeply committed to building a more inclusive entrepreneurial community w/ more transparency, open doors & access to capital https://t.co/F6HTmKEzja pic.twitter.com/7ztc441rUg
— Mary Grove (@maryGrove) May 29, 2020
VC Firms Speak in Solidarity
More than 90% of venture capital funding goes to white-led ventures. Twitter statements from many white-dominated venture funds, from Silicon Valley and across the country, point to rising awareness that permanent change for equality in venture funding is needed:
- Sequoia: “Change starts with each of us holding ourselves accountable.”
- FirstRound: “There’s a tremendous amount of work to be done in our industry and in our country.”
- Gener8tor: “As a company, we demand action and donated $5,000 ($100 per employee) to the Equal Justice Initiative (@eji_org) to fight for meaningful and necessary change.”
- Hyde Park Venture Partners: “We stand against social injustice and racism and laud peaceful organization and protest as a means of social change.”
- KleinerPerkins: “We can, and will, do better.”
- Revolution: “Everyone, including all of us at Revolution, who backs startups needs to do more.”
- Benchmark: “The partners of Benchmark have been and are contributing to organizations such as @eji_org, @NAACP_LDF, and @innocence. Please consider joining us, there’s much more to do.”
Whether these statements will translate to more investment from these funds in BIPOC-led ventures remains to be seen, but we hope this is the start of a big change.
Opportunity Sky Rockets
Last weekend’s SpaceX launch put the spotlight back on space startups. Innovation around space exploration is happening around the country, especially around what is known as the “Space Coast” on the east coast of Florida. “Rise of the Rest” Champion Steve Case recently re–shared video footage from last year’s Rise of The Rest trip in Florida, where Powderkeg was able to join and meet some of the most innovative space startups.
#LaunchAmerica is a reminder #SpaceCoast is once again thriving as a center of innovation. Much of the credit today goes to @NASA & #SpaceX’s public/private partnership. But it is also a testament to the startup energy that’s rising in #FL & all across the country. #RiseOfRest https://t.co/krqFD2xgOA
— Steve Case (@SteveCase) May 30, 2020
Cali Jobs Move to “Mighty Middle”
San Francisco based fashion company Stitch Fix announced this week that it is planning to cut over 1,400 jobs at its California location and move these opportunities to less expensive markets in the middle of the country. This cut will represent around 18% of Stitch Fix’s staff but most will be given the opportunity to relocate to different markets in order to keep their role.
Startup Hits 100k, Pledges $100k
Career Karma’s CEO Ruben Harris recently announced that his company Career Karma has reached over 100,000 users this year and called for more action and collaboration from the tech community on the BLM movement. To celebrate this major milestone Career Karma is raising $100,000 worth of resources to help the community to continue training. Just last month the company launched FastTrack to help users to get matched with coding bootcamps.
Startups Still Hiring Amidst Crisis:
Know someone looking for a new gig? The economy is unpredictable right now, but startups in the middle of the country are still hiring.
We have a few of our Top Powderkeg Picks below:
Companies who are hiring:
- Indianapolis, IN
- SEP is a software product design and development company hiring a senior software engineer.
- Cincinnati, Ohio
- Philadelphia, PA
- Scholly is a student success platform hiring developers, designers and marketers.
- McKinney, TX
- PestRoutes is a pest control platform hiring developers, an HR generalist, marketers, and product managers.
- Atlanta, GA
- Pindrop is an authentication and fraud detection platform hiring a production support engineer.
- Raleigh, NC
- Las Vegas, NV
- Pigeonly is a communications platform hiring engineers, business development representatives and an account manager.
- Multiple Locations
- Brite Systems is an application development company hiring IT/cybersecurity consultants, developers, CRM consultants, Salesforce administrators, Sharepoint administrators, and business analysts.
Get the inside scoop on even more interesting companies, stories, and strategies to help you reach your full potential.
- Black mental health matters: Resources and self-care tips for overwhelming times…
- 39 Black Women Investors Inspiring a New Generation of Investors
- An Anti-Racist Resource Guide for the Tech & VC Community
- The Black Founder List a comprehensive list of US-based venture-backed Black founders ever
- I Am A VC But Still A Black Man In America
This blog post was curated by Alexander, Meg, Casey, and myself from the Powderkeg team, and written with the help of our friends at Metonymy Media.
Got 30 seconds? Share some good news with us! The Powderkeg team will share the best stories in an upcoming virtual event, on social, or in a future blog. Let us know!