‘We Believe Demographics Are Destiny’: Kanyi Maqubela Launches $56M Kindred Ventures Fund To Form Startups And Fund Them

Written by Dana Sanchez
Kanyi Maqubela
Kanyi Maqubela, a Soweto-born, Stanford-educated venture capitalist, has raised $56M for the Kindred Ventures Fund to invest in earliest-stage startups. Maqubela speaks at Platform Summit 2013. Photo: YouTube

Kanyi Maqubela, a Soweto-born, U.S.-raised, Stanford-educated venture capitalist, has raised a $56-million fund called Kindred Ventures that is investing in innovative startups at the earliest stage.

The plan is to fund about 25 companies through pre-seed and seed. So far, Kindred Ventures has funded nine startups from its $55 million initial fund, Techcrunch reported. It’s helped form two companies and hopes to do four to eight per fund. But Kindred won’t be taking founder-level equity in those. Instead it wants to lead the seed round and own 10 percent to 20 percent by the time of the Series A.

In a series of tweets Monday, Maqubela described (with what can only be described as a world of optimism) what he and co-investor Steve Jang hope to accomplish with the fund:

  • “It will recognize the changing workforce and respond with new financial infrastructure that is software-driven, vertically focused, and responsive to the needs of specific types of user.”
  • “It will celebrate wellness as a movement that puts *health* at the center of daily life, and helps orient healthcare towards that mentality.”
  • “It will elevate and enlarge software development to allow for more creators to build, to create *equity*, and to solve problems at work.”
  • “It will change the way we move around cities, how we access food, and how we live in harmony with each other, and with our planet.”
  • “It will welcome us into a new frontier of human-computer interaction, one that is more empathetic, more intimate, more natural; one that honors our conflicting desires for privacy and for a sense of belonging.”
  • “It will be diverse: we are both immigrants and people of color, we believe demographics are destiny, and it is *good business* to invest in diverse problems, and to fund people from diverse backgrounds.”

Maqubela invited founders to reach out if they fit these criteria: “If your startup is working on these problems and you are at the beginning of your journey, or even better, if you are about to make the jump, and have a point of view about a world that *could be*, we hope you’ll call us!”

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 68: Jamarlin Martin

Jamarlin talks about the recent backlash against Lebron James for not speaking up for Joshua Wong and the violent Hong Kong protestors.

Before starting Kindred Ventures, Maqubela and Jang paid their dues. Maqubela worked in operations at career network Doostang (acquired by Universum Global) and solar startup One Block Off the Grid (acquired by NRG) before rising to general partner at Collaborative Fund. Jang, who co-founded music apps Imeem and Soundtracking, was an early Uber advisor and an angel investor in Coinbase.

Born in Soweto outside Johannesburg during apartheid, Maqubela grew up in New England. He attended Phillips Academy and claims to be a two-time dropout from Stanford University. He majored in philosophy and studied computer science, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. He’s taught elementary and middle school math and science, and worked on Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign — “to date, the most meaningful and difficult work I’ve ever done,” he said in his online bio. In his last job, Maqubela was a venture capitalist with Collaborative Fund.

Kanyi Maqubela
Kanyi Maqubela, a Soweto-born, Stanford-educated venture capitalist, has raised $56M for the Kindred Ventures Fund to invest in earliest-stage startups. Maqubela speaks at Platform Summit 2013. Photo: YouTube

Maqubela speaks Xhosa, the native tongue of the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. In a 2018 blog, he wrote about the human voice — something he said he has a sensitivity for: “I would like to think that our near future won’t be a Siri and Alexa mediated world, but will honor the primacy and the power of the actual human voice.

“It tells us so much about the speaker, about their heart, their happiness, their secrets, much of which we receive subconsciously. It provides a perfect opportunity for more intimacy and heart in our technology. We have moved into an era where we stare at our screens for more and more of our relationships, and I want to make an appeal for the human voice.”

“To that end, holler at me if you have anything I can learn, any products I can test, or any people I can meet given the above.”