A former Time Warner CEO who has ranked among the wealthiest black Americans has teamed up with a former Time Warner head of investments to start a new venture capital firm that invests in startups.
Together, Richard Parsons and Rachel Lam hope to “change the equation” around the scarcity of women-led venture firms, according to a report in Wired.
A venture fund run by an African American man and an Asian-American woman “is likely to be a bit different than when pitching your typical VC,” Lam told Wired.
Through their firm, Imagination Capital, they plan to invest their personal money in early-stage startups, writing checks up to $500,000 in seed rounds. Drawing on their own media experience, they’ll target 20 to 25 investments in digital media, machine learning, big data, and esports companies over the next three years.
Parsons, a former Citigroup chairman, earned $10.64 million in 2006, ranking No. 134 for CEO compensation, according to a Forbes list. His five-year compensation total was listed at $32.412 million.
At the time, Parsons had been CEO of Time Warner for four years and with the company for 11.
In 2009, Parsons almost made the Forbes list of The 20 Wealthiest Black Americans but his net worth took a hit in the recession, pushing his fortune below the $100 million mark. He was compensated primarily with stock and options, Forbes reported.
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Imagination Capital has already backed an esports startup called Boom.tv alongside existing investors First Round, Crosslink and Tandem Ventures, Wired reported.
Lam was head of investments at Time Warner’s venture-capital arm, where she worked from 2003 to 2016. After retiring in January, she returned to investing because she said she wanted to change the predominantly white, male venture-capital industry:
“With all of the discussion around the scarcity of women-led venture firms, Dick and I wanted to do what we could to ‘change the equation’ just a little bit, and put one more example out there for other women that it can be done,” she told Wired. “Instead of just complaining about the current situation, which is easy to do, we decided to do something.”
Parsons was appointed by the National Basketball Association in 2014 to be interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers after owner Donald Sterling was ousted for making racist remarks.
Before the Clippers, Parsons was connected to the NBA because Time Warner once owned the Atlanta Hawks. The media company sold the team in 2004 to Bruce Levenson. The Hawks went back up for sale after Levenson made racially insensitive comments in an email that came to light in 2012, CNBC reported.
Since 2008, Vanity Fair has been naming kingmakers and innovators to its New Establishment Hall of Fame. Parsons made the inaugural list.