George Floyd Update: Disney Will Donate $5M to Social Justice Groups; a16z Announces Diversity Fund
Annie Burford, dot.LA

Here are the latest headlines regarding how the protests around the killing of George Floyd are impacting the Los Angeles startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for the latest updates.

Today:

  • Disney will donate $5M to Social Justice Groups
  • Blck VC group launches 'We Won't Wait' campaign
  • a16z VC firm launches fund to target diverse founders
  • Snap stops promoting Trump's account in its Discover feature

    Disney will donate $5M to Social Justice Groups

    ABC's TV sitcom Blackish aired two "monumental and timely episodes" this week.

    The Walt Disney company announced Wednesday that it will donate $5 million to nonprofit groups fighting for social justice, starting with a $2 million donation to the NAACP.

    "The killing of George Floyd has forced our nation to once again confront the long history of injustice that black people in America have suffered, and it is critical that we stand together, speak out and do everything in our power to ensure that acts of racism and violence are never tolerated," said Disney chief Bob Chapek in a statement. "This $5 million pledge will continue to support the efforts of nonprofit organizations such as the NAACP that have worked tirelessly to ensure equality and justice."

    In a statement, the company pointed to its previous social justice initiatives, including providing "millions of dollars in grants to help students from underrepresented groups make the dream of higher education a reality, including $2.5 million to the United Negro College Fund." Disney also noted that it matches employee donations to "eligible organizations" and that on Tuesday it re-aired two "monumental and timely episodes" of Black-ish on its ABC television networks before a primetime special titled "America in Pain: What Comes Next?"

    In its quarterly earnings released last month, Disney reported nearly $40 billion in revenue in the six months to March 28, 2020. Net income over the same period was down 68% from the year prior, however, as most of the company's business units have been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

    — Sam Blake

    Blck VC group launches 'We Won't Wait' campaign

    Venture capital has fueled billions of dollars in wealth but it has largely excluded black Americans. Only 1% of venture-funded startup founders are black and more than 80% of venture firms don't have a single black investor.

    Blck VC, a group of young black investors and entrepreneurs are calling on the venture capitalist community to diversify their ranks and support the black community. Declaring Thursday, June 4th, a day of action, the group launched a campaign called "We Won't Wait." Read more >>

    — Rachel Uranga

    a16z VC firm launches fund to target diverse founders

    Ben and Felicia Horowitz will match up to an additional $5,000,000 total in any other donations.

    One of Silicon Valley's most prominent venture capital firms announced Wednesday it is launching a new fund designed for entrepreneurs who have the talent, drive and ideas to build great businesses, but lack the background and resources to do so.

    In a blog post, the firm says it has been working on the fund for six months. However, the timing of the news this week is fortunate for an industry with a serious diversity problem.

    a16z plans to fund a small group of founders in the first year, then expand after that. The initial capital will come from $2.2 million in donations from partners. Ben and Felicia Horowitz will match up to an additional $5 from other donations as well. The firm will invest in exchange for equity in the business, but all returns will stay in the fund to finance future entrepreneurs, which aims to back products from underserved communities that also have an "interesting model, niche market, and/or a little traction to indicate the promise and potential."

    "We're venture capitalists, not activists," the firm said in its post. "Entrepreneurship hasn't been accessible to everyone, but the fact remains that being an entrepreneur is one of the most powerful ways to own your own future, to increase mobility across time and place, to invent new ways of doing things, and to forge a new system. As we emerge from this tragic moment, let's build.

    dot.LA co-founder and executive chairman Spencer Rascoff is a board partner at a16z.

    — Ben Bergman

    Snap removes Trump's account from its Discover feature

    Sam Blake

    Snap has decided to no longer feature President Donald Trump's account on its Discover platform, where users can watch curated videos.

    The Santa Monica-based company issued a statement Wednesday:

    "We are not currently promoting the President's content on Snapchat's Discover platform. We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover. Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America."

    A Snap spokesperson said the company made the decision over the weekend. On Sunday, Snap CEO Even Spiegel wrote to his employees, condemning racial injustice. Read more >>

    — Sam Blake




      Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

      Cadence

      Snap’s RTO Plan Is Meant To Boost Productivity. It Could Do the Opposite

      Nat Rubio-Licht
      Nat Rubio-Licht is a freelance reporter with dot.LA. They previously worked at Protocol writing the Source Code newsletter and at the L.A. Business Journal covering tech and aerospace. They can be reached at nat@dot.la.
      Snap logo and hq
      Photo by rblfmr/ Shutterstock

      Snap is the latest major tech company to bring the hammer down on remote work: CEO Evan Spiegel told employees this week that they will be expected to work from the office 80% of the time starting in February.

      Per the announcement, the Santa Monica-based company’s full-time workers will be required to work from the office four or more days per week, though off-site client meetings would count towards their in-office time. This policy, which Spiegel dubbed “default together,” applies to employees in all 30 of the company's global offices, and the company is working on an exceptions process for those that wish to continue working remotely. Snap’s abrupt change follows other major tech firms, including Apple, which began its hybrid policy requiring employees to be in the office at least three days per week in September, and Twitter, which axed remote work completely after Elon Musk’s takeover (though he did temporarily close offices amid a slew of resignations in mid-November).

      Read moreShow less
      nat@dot.la

      'The Writing's on the Wall': Electric Batteries' Rapid Progress May Have Just Doomed Natural Gas Trucks

      David Shultz

      David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

      'The Writing's on the Wall': Electric Batteries' Rapid Progress May Have Just Doomed Natural Gas Trucks
      Image from Tesla

      Last month, when dot.LA toured the Hexagon Purus facility in Ontario, California, multiple employees bemoaned the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) ruling on renewable natural gas (RNG) as a hindrance to decarbonizing trucking-haul trucking. They argued that keeping RNG classified as a “near-zero emission” fuel prevented companies using financial incentives like the Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project, which, as the name suggests, is only available to true zero-emission trucks. The effect, they said, was that the agency was missing an opportunity to accelerate the state’s transition away from diesel.

      But over the weekend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to announce that the EV company’s battery powered class 8 semi-truck had completed a 500-mile trip fully loaded (to the tune of 81,000 lbs). It now appears CARB’s refusal to classify renewable natural gas (RNG) as a zero-emission fuel source was ultimately the right decision.

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