Black VC Launches Social Network For Black Professionals
“Don’t come to me with problems if you don’t have solutions.” It’s a well-known saying that can make one’s career when applied or break it when ignored. Black venture capitalist Kobie Fuller errs on the side of solutions. So when he realized there was no gathering place for Black professionals online, he decided to create one. Enter Valence, a new social networking community for Black professionals that launched Tuesday, Nov. 5.
According to an article Fuller wrote, Valence’s “mission is to unlock the global combined power of Black professionals to create massive economic wealth and social progress that impacts current and future generations.”
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 32: Shireen Mitchell
Jamarlin talks to serial entrepreneur and technologist Shireen Mitchell about whether Black tech investors invest enough in Black entrepreneurs. They discuss Facebook and Google de-platforming Black activists and how the algorithms disproportionately censor people who speak out against those in power.
Fuller, a partner at Upfront Ventures, co-founded the network with Emily Slade and La Mer Walker. In addition to Black professionals, one of its target audiences is companies struggling to launch successful diversity and inclusion initiatives. Thanks to Valence, they can now become a partner and come to a centralized place to find top-notch Black talent.
“For years, companies and venture capitalists have asked me for advice about where they can find amazing Black talent and I had my standard answers — which were basically limited to people in my network (historically black colleges and universities), and a few niche associations,” Fuller said in a statement. “As a Black VC, I also wanted better visibility into my own community and couldn’t believe that a centralized network of Black professionals didn’t exist yet.”
After two years in the works, Fuller says Valence has been “built for Black professionals by Black professionals.” The community’s name doesn’t seem to have been chosen by happenstance. Valence is defined as “the combining power of an element,” which is exactly what Valence does. In addition to connecting users with one another and mentors, the platform also features job opportunities from top tier companies as well as capital and startup advice.
Valence will also spotlight Black professionals by telling their phenomenal stories in a way that is akin to how mainstream media tells the stories of athletes and entertainers, reported TechCrunch.
Based in Los Angeles, the network raised $2.5 million in funding from Upfront Ventures, Sinai Ventures, Human Ventures, High Alpha and angels Paul Judge, Willie and Peggy Alford. Upfront gave the initial $1 million in seed funding.
Open to anyone who identifies as Black, the network boasts a waitlist of thousands, Slade told TechCrunch. Anyone interesting in becoming a member will go through a vetting process by existing members of the community.