hernan lopez

Even after the tech industry's reckoning after the killing of George Floyd last year, the startup world is still overwhelmingly dominated by white men.

Of the $150 billion in venture funding raised by U.S startups last year, just $1 billion went to Black founders, according to Crunchbase.

And Southern California is hardly bucking the trend. Just 2% of VC investment partners here identify as Black or Latino and less than 10% of VC-funded companies are led by women or people of color in Southern California, according to PledgeLA.

But even though progress has been slow, there are founders of color helping lead the new wave of tech startups.

Who stands out? We asked the region's top VCs to weigh in.

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Over the past five years, West Hollywood-based Wondery transformed from Hernan Lopez's hunch about the future of audio to the sixth largest podcast publisher in the U.S., boasting over 8 million monthly listeners and 30 hit shows.

A former 21st Century Fox executive, Lopez started the podcast studio with the belief that in-depth, narrative audio stories were poised to bloom much like serialized television dramas had when he was in TV; he wanted to make "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men" versions of podcasts.

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