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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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.

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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.

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Motional Links With Uber to Make Robotaxis a Reality

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.

Motional
Image courtesy of Motional

Motional, a self-driving taxi startup backed by Hyundai, will partner with Uber to bring its robotic taxis to cities throughout the United States within the next decade as part of its push to get people more comfortable with the concept of taking a ride in a driverless electric vehicle.

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