With Help from Apple and Bank of America, VamosVentures Doubles Down on Backing Latinx Founders

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

With Help from Apple and Bank of America, VamosVentures Doubles Down on Backing Latinx Founders

After closing its first fund in December with $25 million in dry powder, VamosVentures, which bills itself as the first Latinx-owned venture fund to focus on Latinx and other diverse founders, decided it could stretch its ambitions.

Companies like Apple and Bank of America were knocking on the door, and VamosVentures decided it might as well capitalize on the increasing desire of corporate America to show they cared about diversity as well as a loosening of regulations that made it easier for banks to invest in venture funds.

"We had a good group of folks that didn't make the deadline," said Marcos Gonzalez, founder and managing partner of VamosVentures, who has previously been an angel investor and worked in private equity. "A couple new LPs showed up that were really motivated to do something in the DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] space and certainly the social justice space."

The fund plans to focus on health and wellness, future of work, consumer packaged goods and financial technology startups.

With the additional checks – which also come from Twitter, the Ford Foundation and the global alternative asset firm TPG, VamosVenture announced this week it has doubled its fund to $50 million. The new investors join PayPal, which signed on last year.

Rather than back more startups, the additional capital will mostly be used to write bigger checks of between $250,000 and $1 million.

"We will be able to take larger ownership positions," Gonzalez said, adding that he will also be able to hire more staff.

Just 2% of VC investment partners in L.A. identify as African American or Latino, according to PledgeLA. Nationally, a 2018 Deloitte study found 80% of investment partners at U.S. venture firms were white and only 3% were Black and 3% Latino.

Gonzalez said he is pleased to see companies like Apple recognizing the value of diversity and promoting more non-white managers.

"When I started this five years ago, there weren't that many. Now you run into one every week," he said. "There's been a lot more momentum around diversity."

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