Elite Silicon Valley VC Initiative For Women Questioned For Being ‘Too White And Too Asian’

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Written by Dana Sanchez
Too White
In this Jan. 9, 2019 photo, a woman sits in a library space at Facebook’s new 130,000-square-foot offices, which occupy the top three floors of a 10-story Cambridge, Mass. building. The space gives the company room to triple its current local staff of more than 200. The Silicon Valley company, created by Mark Zuckerberg when he was two subway stops away at Harvard University, opened its first Boston office five years ago. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

All Raise, a venture capital firm dedicated to diversity in funders and founders, has been criticized for its own team being too white and too Asian.

Many Silicon Valley companies have made public commitments to become more diverse after decades of being led by mostly white men. Freada Kapor Klein, an activist, entrepreneur and venture capitalist, has advocated for — and practiced — diversity in tech since the 1980s.

She and her husband, Mitch Kapor, are co-chairs of the Oakland-based Kapor Center, which seeks to diversify tech through education, community organizing, and impact investing. They only back startups that “(close) gaps of access, of opportunity or outcome for low-income communities and/or communities of color,” Recode reported. 

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Kapor Klein said she is unimpressed with the progress of diversity at Silicon Valley companies, according to the Recode Decode podcast.

All Raise was founded in 2017 by 34 senior female investors from institutionally backed venture capital firms based in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, New York and Boston, according to the All Raise website.

A photo of the All Raise team shows 28 women including one Black woman and at least one woman of color.

“From the outset, the group has focused on connecting initiatives with outcomes to engage more women and minorities in the founding and funding of technology-driven companies,” according to the All Raise “about’ page.

All Raise quotes tons of data to back up how poorly represented women are in funding and founding. These include:

  • 11 percent of VCs are women.
  • 71 percent of U.S. firms do not have a single female partner.
  • Just 12 percent of funding goes to teams with at least one female founder

What All Raise doesn’t address is that the numbers are worse for Black women.

Businesses with women of color CEOs get less than 1 percent of all VC funding every year, according to incubator and research center, DigitalUndivided’s ProjectDiane. Of all VC funding over the past decade, Black women have raised 0.0006 percent.

Kapor Klein spoke with Recode’s Teddy Schleifer about why initiatives with good intentions such as All Raise have not yet had an impact. If the tech industry is going to reflect the diversity of the whole country, Kapor Klein said, hiring more white women isn’t good enough.

All Raise “set their standards too low,” Kapor Klein said. “If all they were seeking to do is increase the number of privileged women who become partners at VC firms as VC currently exists, that’s an incredibly low bar. And don’t you want to think about VC 2.0? Don’t you want to think about making the industry better on all dimensions of diversity?”

A lot of people are trying to hold tech and VC accountable now, Kapor Klein added. “And look, the industry has brought it on itself.”

Kapor said a different group of people sitting around the table could have tackled a bigger issue about how to help VC live up to its potential.