After MLK Jr. Day, after all the many situations and examples and tragedies that have been freshly brought to light of late around racial inequality, and the many things we need to do to change things for the better…
I came across these two posts from one of my more favorite voices on social media. Fred Wilson.
He’s a business guy, a big money guy, but he’s also got one of the best perspectives and voices and balance to social and economic and cultural topics I am aware of. He’s no B.S., and he’s worth listening to.
And so though I have a couple hundred followers on WordPress, and six hundred some followers on Twitter, and Fred Wilson has more than six hundred thousand followers on Twitter – point being he’s got plenty of social media reach -?I’m going to share these two posts anyway. Because I agree with his remarks and I want to elevate them.
This is a guy whose making a difference on a lot of levels, including racial / social justice in these United States of America. Thanks, Fred ~
JAN 18, 2021
Six Months Later
In early June, I wrote this post explaining that I and we need to do more to reduce the inequality issues for Black people in tech, venture capital, and startups.
I think MLK day is a good time to talk about what has happened since that post.
We have identified a number of areas where we must do better:
- Increase the number of Black founders we back
- Increase the number of Black team members at USV
- Increase the number of Black VCs we work with and support
- Increase the number of Black board members in our portfolio
- Increase the number of Black leaders in our portfolio
- Increase the number of Black employees in our portfolio
- Increase the number of Black engineers in our portfolio
- Increase the number of Black investors in our funds
- Increase the number of Black college graduates going into tech, venture capital, and startups
- Create pathways for Black students to study STEM and find their way into careers in tech, venture capital, and startups
We have ongoing projects, workstreams, investments, and efforts in each and every one of these areas and we have made tangible progress in almost all of them.
I believe that the inequity issues are so severe and deeply rooted that it will take a concerted effort over a number of years to truly erase them.
But we are making progress and if we keep at it, across many dimensions, we can get where we need to go. Roughly 15% of Americans are Black. Until we can look around the room and see at least one Black person for every six in the meeting, we haven’t done enough. Today is a good day to remind ourselves of that and recommit to the work that needs to happen.
Jeff Interlude: And before that one, he wrote this one:
JUN 4, 2020
Black Lives Matter
I believe that Black lives matter.
I understand that the phrase Black lives matter speaks to a movement to stop the murders of Black people at the hands of the police. I also understand that it speaks to a broader protest movement seeking to reduce the unchecked power of the police. I support these efforts and am sympathetic to them.
But the words Black lives matter mean even more to me.
They mean that a Black person’s life matters as much as any other person’s life.
They mean that the living situation of a Black person matters as much as anyone’s living situation.
They mean that the food a Black person eats matters as much as the food anyone eats.
They mean that the health care that a Black person has matters as much as the health care anyone has.
They mean that the education a Black person has matters as much as anyone’s education.
And they mean that the economic opportunity that a Black person has matters as much as anyone’s economic opportunity.
My record and that of the USV is poor on that last measure.
We have spent much of the last week at USV talking about that and we talked about it publicly on our blog and Twitter yesterday.
When the collective minds at USV focus on something we have always met our goals.
While we are late to put our collective minds on this opportunity, we are not too late. And we have already started our work on it.
We will do this the way we do everything at USV. We will stick to our thesis of access to capital, knowledge, and well-being. We will back teams that are working on these problems in ways we think are impactful. And we will be engaged, honest, and present in the work.