Less than 1% of venture capital founders are African American, and when you tell those in the VC industry, the statistics are dire. A new study by the NVCA reports that black employees make up 3% of the at-risk workforce compared to the vast majority of white men.
However, there are a growing number of changemakers in venture capital who understand the importance and untapped potential of minority founders. These black investors intentionally support and invest in diverse portfolios, and in some cases focus almost entirely on women and minority founders.
Below is a list of 10 leading black investors making waves in the VC industry. All funds under management that have raised more than $100 million. Collectively, these funds are responsible for putting about $3 billion in VC funding into the hands of qualified entrepreneurs.
1. Adeyemi Ajao, Managing Partner – Base10
Born to a Spanish mother and a Nigerian father, Adeyemi Ajao spent her formative years in Nigeria and Italy before her family moved to Spain when she was nine. Ajao studied in Spain before starting his MBA at Stanford. He also holds a JD in law and an MA in economics from Icade University in Spain, and studied for a machine learning degree at Stanford.
With a background as a successful serial VC-backed entrepreneur, Ade co-founded Base10 in 2018 with TJ Nahigan. The firm is the first black-led VC firm with more than $1 billion in assets under management. “We like to invest outside of Silicon Valley,” says Ajao, with a strong focus on Latin America and a portfolio of companies in Germany and the Netherlands. Approximately 60 percent of the firm’s investments are in companies led by women or minority founders. The company is committed to a diversity pledge, 1% of corporate profits to support organizations fighting for racial inclusion and equality. While 95% of their capital is in fintech, Base10 also looks to invest in environmental, social and governance areas.
2. Marlon Nichols, Managing Partner – MaC Venture Capital
Marlon Nichols is an experienced investor. The founder of Cross Culture Ventures and previously an investment director at Intel Capital has turned his expert hand to MaC Venture Capital. After raising $110 million in early stage funding, Mac plans to invest in 40 early stage companies around the world. “We’re looking for ambitious founders who want to build billion-dollar batch leaders,” said Adrian Fenty, who is also a managing partner at Mack.
CEO Nichols said MaC Venture Capital not only has the capacity to invest in black and brown founders, but also the importance of empowering “companies that close the opportunity gap for large groups of people and more diversity across the spectrum.” create a wide range of vertical” knows. partner MaC offers a hands-on approach that provides operational strategy, branding and support to entrepreneurs within its portfolio. The company’s limited partners include Foot Locker Inc., Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and the University of Michigan.
3. Olen Douglas, Managing Partner – Motley Fool Ventures
University of Baltimore alum Olen Douglas is a managing partner at Motley Fool Ventures. Prior to joining the Fund, Olen was CFO of The Motley Fool Holdings, Inc. for 14 years. Was. During that time, he was responsible for the financial health of Total Fool and helped guide the company through periods of major growth, contraction and market volatility.
Motley Fool Ventures, launched in 2018, invests in early-stage companies that use technology to create a clear competitive advantage in their industry. The fund invests between $500,000 and $2 million, leaving room for subsequent investments. MFV’s portfolio includes Finli, a mobile payment management company that recently raised $6 million in a seed funding round led by MFV. Other investments include Esusu, a fintech specializing in lease reporting and credit-building data solutions, which raised $10 million in a Series A round led by MFV and Serena Ventures. In total, MFV manages $252 million. The goal is to raise at least another $200 million.
4. Brian Dixon, Managing Partner – Kapor Capital
Brian Dixon began his career as an intern at Kapor Capital and is currently a managing partner at the Oakland-based venture capital firm. This makes him one of the youngest African-American partners at the Silicon Valley fund. He is committed to ensuring that entrepreneurs of all backgrounds have access to the advice and capital to make their businesses successful.
One of the largest Black-led VC firms by assets, Kapoor Capital prioritizes a fairer, more just and equitable society for low-income communities and low-income communities of color. The company raised $126 million in September to invest in pre-seed, seed-stage and Series A startups. Managing partner Olili Onwakpouri describes the difficult process of raising capital, citing racism among investors. The company is looking to change that, with a particular focus on startups that address issues in the African-American and Latino communities. Kapoor Capital seeks to see early stage companies put inclusion and diversity at the core of the company’s DNA. In 2015, the founders of Kapoor Capital launched their GIVE 2016 pledge, whose pillars are building diversity and inclusion goals, investing in people-driven technology to tackle bias, organizing volunteer opportunities and providing training.
5. Aaron Holliday, Managing Partner – 654 Ventures
Aaron Holiday, MBA alumnus of Cornell University, is co-founder and managing partner of Kapor Capital. Holliday, a Morehouse computer science graduate, founded 645 Ventures nine years ago with Nnamdi Okike.
654 Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm that invests in building iconic companies. 654 Ventures applies a data-driven approach to investing in top software and Internet companies. 645 Ventures has just overseen its fourth fund and its first opportunity fund, offering up to $5 million in Seed investment and $15 million in Series A funding. By the end of these rounds, the company had raised a total of $347 million, reflecting its exponential growth that has seen its portfolio grow to more than 50 companies. The firm plans to make about 30 new investments, maintaining its focus on financing growth and backing the best companies the firm has seen through its seed fund.
6. Kanyi Maqubela – Managing Partner – Kindred Ventures
Kanyi Maqubela, a graduate of Stanford University, counts fluency in Spanish, Xhosa, and Zulu languages and a tenure as a professor at New York University among his talents. Maqubela co-founded Kindred Ventures with Steve Jung in 2014 with the mission of supporting visionary founders, both by investing in technology startups and bringing talented founders together to form startups.
The fund is notable for its refusal to zero in on any of the tech entrepreneurship sectors. Zhang was a founding advisor and early investor in Uber and Maqubela served as a partner at Collaborative Fund where he was an early advisor to Tala and Walker & Co before they partnered to design their seed VC platform, Kindred. In 2021, Kindred closed its second fund of $100 million, in addition to an initial $56 million two years earlier.
7. Paul Ghazi, Managing Partner – Panoramic Ventures
Series founder Dr. Paul Judge has over 60 ventures to his name, making him one of Atlanta’s most successful serial tech entrepreneurs. Ghazi, the founder of TechSquare Labs, Purewire, joined the board in 2021 as a co-founder of Panoramic Ventures. He is now a managing partner.
With one of the most impressive portfolios in the Southeast, a region that receives only 14% of funding despite accounting for 44% of the country’s population, Panoramic Ventures has made successful investments in Car360, Pindrop, and Tricentis. shows among others. Panoramic Ventures takes a holistic approach to funding and opens doors to overlooked founders. With more than $550 million in assets under management in 2021, the firm has launched a new fund with a target of $300 million. “As a minority who have built companies outside of traditional tech poles, I know what it’s like to be an overlooked founder,” Judge says. From Atlanta to Miami, from the Southeast to the Midwest, Panoramic wants to support promising founders and expand capital opportunities that may not have existed before.
8. Henri-Pierre-Jacques, Managing Partner – Harlem Capital
Co-founder and managing partner of Harlem, Henri-Pierre-Jacques holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, a Forbes 30 Under 30 Award, and currently serves on the board of the Amazon Black Business Accelerator. With 24 lead investments to his name and experience on 7 boards, he founded Harlem Capital with the ambitious goal of changing the face of entrepreneurship by investing in 1,000 diverse founders over 20 years.
Recognizing that communities of color and exporters have cultural and economic value, Harlem Capital has invested in 49 ventures across 13 cities and 3 countries, 91% diverse founders and 43% female founders. Founders Henri-Pierre-Jacques and Jared Tingle have gone from their first venture capital fund of $40 million in 2018 to their second fund of $134 million in 2021, with anchor checks from Apple, PayPal and return investor TPG Capital. are “There was no other fund that was racially concentrated with different people at the helm,” says Pierre-Jacques. So we felt we had to start it ourselves.” Harlem can now use its funds to invest in fintech, e-commerce, HR technology, property and health.
9. Managing Partner Charles Hudson, Managing Partner – Investment Pioneer
Managing Partner Charles Hudson has nearly two decades of experience managing technology and virtual businesses. He is a returning alumnus of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he is the founder of the Virtual Goods Summit and Social Gaming, respectively.
In 2015 he founded Precursor Ventures with one simple premise: All entrepreneurs, regardless of background, benefit from having an institutional investor to help them scale and grow their company from the ground up. Since its founding, Precursor Ventures has made nearly 400 investments in companies headquartered in North America (including the United States, Canada and Mexico). Hudson previously worked at Google, IronPort Systems, which was acquired by Cisco Systems in 2017 for $830 million, and IN-Q-Tel, the strategic investment group for the CIA, before starting his own company.
10 Don Thompson, CEO & Founder – Cleveland Ave
Former McDonald’s CEO and Chairman Don Thompson founded Cleveland Street Venture Capital in 2015. He brings his extensive expertise and passion for innovation and digital trends to his VC firm.
Headquartered in Chicago, Cleveland Street is focused on building food, beverage and restaurant concepts. The company is driving growth at all stages by investing in talented ventures such as BeyondMeat, Ayo Foods and Farmer’s Fridge. In early December 2022, Cleveland Street led a Series A investment round for Verdant Robotics that closed at $46.5 million. Liz Thompson, Don’s partner of 30 years, heads the Cleveland Street Education Foundation, which focuses on college access and career attainment.
Main Image: Base10 managing partner Adeyemi Ajao (right) with co-founder TJ Nahigan