Career Karma ended up raising a $1.5 million seed round with Kapor Capital, Unshackled Ventures, Upfront Ventures and others. (Willett Advisors, the investment arm for the personal and philanthropic assets of Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, is an investor in Y Combinator startups.)

Garvey wondered whether she had been holding founders “to a higher standard, knowing it’s going to be a reflection of me and a reflection of the whole ecosystem.” She now sees it as her responsibility to explore a startup’s long-term vision with founders, to make a fairer judgment on whether it can grow to be a big business.

While Garvey was reviewing her past decisions, Harris reached out to provide her an update on the business and gauge Reach's interest. The racial reckoning and her audit prompted Garvey to look again. Harris had expanded beyond coding bootcamps, letting his company tap into a bigger market.

VCs need to take more risks on Black entrepreneurs, she said, because “nine out of 10 startups fail anyway. So you can’t expect one out of two Black-led startups to excel. You have to get that 10.”

Charles Hudson has had better success investing in Black-led companies than many Silicon Valley VCs. Hudson is the sole partner at Precursor Ventures, a San Francisco-based firm he founded. All three full-time staffers and an intern at the firm are Black.

In Precursor’s first early-stage fund, with a size of $15.3 million, 18 of 83 investments went to Black founders. In the second fund, worth $31.1 million, Hudson has made 20 such investments of 93.

“If you’re a Black founder, you’re welcome here,” Hudson said. “If you look at the investing team at most places, you won’t see a single Black face.”

Hudson has been conscious about taking risks on entrepreneurs across the U.S. rather than clustered in tech hubs. Still, his skin color has meant that when he’s fundraising, some institutional investors assume the goal of his fund is to uplift Black and Brown entrepreneurs -- even though it isn’t.

“I met limited partners and they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re a diversity fund.’ Nothing in my deck says we’re explicitly prioritizing diversity. They meet you, they see you and they instantly jump to that.”

Black VCs with their own funds have more latitude to take significant action on race than ones at larger firms with many White partners.

Adeyemi Ajao raised $137 million at his firm Base10 Partners in 2018 and it was seen as a triumph for representation. It was the largest war chest ever compiled by a VC firm with a Black co-founder.

Ajao moved to the U.S. 12 years ago from Spain, where his Spanish mother and Nigerian father mostly raised him. For years, he said he didn’t fully understand the legacy of racial dynamics in the U.S., and while he sought to back a wide variety of founders from underrepresented groups such as women and Latinx people, he didn’t think it was his job to focus on the number of Black entrepreneurs in his portfolio. Base10’s first fund invested in two startups with Black founders out of 23 companies.

Upon his reflection after Floyd’s death, Ajao decided to try to make tech more inclusive for Black people because of the group’s “structural disadvantages” in the U.S. and the untapped economic potential of such a strategy. He unveiled a plan to invest 1% of the firm’s profits and partners’ performance fees to groups seeking to diversify the tech industry, when announcing a second fund valued at $250 million. He hopes that VCs of all races will make similar commitments and consider what else they can do to help solve tech’s race problem, which will take many years and all participants, he said.

“The problem is on the VCs,” he said. “We cannot deflect blame to anyone else. So we are saying, we want to invest in more Black founders so here’s what we’re going to do. My hope is, that is the stance most people will take.”

Clark, at GV, is still grappling with how much power he wields, with whether he’s being too hard on himself or not hard enough, with the very human guilt of being successful while others continue to struggle.

“How many other Black VCs are out there at funds as big as GV who are general partners?” Clark said. “Not many. So if not me, who? If I’m not powerful enough, then who really is?”

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.

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