BET's Debra Lee Considering a Fund for Women, People of Color in Tech

Rachel Uranga

Rachel Uranga is dot.LA's Managing Editor, News. She is a former Mexico-based market correspondent at Reuters and has worked for several Southern California news outlets, including the Los Angeles Business Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News. She has covered everything from IPOs to immigration. Uranga is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and California State University Northridge. A Los Angeles native, she lives with her husband, son and their felines.

BET's Debra Lee Considering a Fund for Women, People of Color in Tech
Aircam

Former BET Chief Executive Debra Lee said on Wednesday said she's looking into creating a fund for women and people of color in tech, inspired by experiences at her annual gathering of powerful women - Leading Women Defined.

Lee, speaking at the eighth-annual Upfront Summit, said she found fewer people who looked like her as she climbed the ranks at the Viacom-run network. And that led Lee to create the conference which draws power players like Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton as keynote speakers.


Debra Lee speaks at the Upfront Summit in Pasadena on January 29, 2020.Courtesy AirCam

Over her decades long career, Lee often found herself the only women of color in board rooms and in the c-suite – a trend that's slowly changing. She recalled walking into a gathering of the National Cable Television board where all the male members were socializing with each other, leaving the female members boxed out.

"For a company to have a board now with no women, no people of color, they should be truly embarrassed," she said at the Upfront Summit. "If you have diverse people on your board, they are going to hold you accountable."

Lee, who is working to get more women on boards as part of her work with Time's Up, sees many signs of change at companies. What she wants to see is more female chief executives. Meanwhile, a recent California law mandates that companies headquartered in the state have women on their board. "We have to hold these companies' feet to the fire," she said.

Lee, who was a member of Twitter's board and sat on the nominating committee, found herself firing off the name of CEOs when the social media giant was looking for black board nominees. The other board members were having a hard time coming up with candidates.

"I love the fact that women and men are discussing their salaries," she said "Women have to know their worth and not be afraid to ask for it. That's the only way you create wealth. That should be the norm with women and people of color."

The Upfront Summit is expected to attract more than 1,200 attendees flocking to the Rose Bowl Jan. 29-30. The invite-only event brings together a diverse mix of entrepreneurs networking with venture players armed with billions of dollars in capital, and headlined by presentations from business leaders including Steve Ballmer, Quibi Chief Executive Meg Whitman, Union Square Ventures' Fred Wilson, and Idealab founder Bill Gross.

Links to the conference agenda and the livestream can be found here.

Upfront Ventures holds a non-controlling, minority interest in dot.LA

https://twitter.com/racheluranga
rachel@dot.la

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Cadence

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

Read moreShow less

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

Read moreShow less

Liquid Death May Just Be The 'Fastest Growing Non-Alcoholic Beverage Of All Time'

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Liquid Death May Just Be The 'Fastest Growing Non-Alcoholic Beverage Of All Time'
Liquid Death Files Paperwork to Raise $15 Million

When Santa Monica-based Liquid Death launched with funding from neighboring venture capital firm Science Inc. in 2018, the Los Angeles startup world – and everyone else – had nothing but jokes. But with the company’s latest $700 million valuation, it appears the joke is on the rest of us.

Read moreShow less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
LA TECH JOBS
interchangeLA
Trending