Top Venture Industry Group Launches Nonprofit to Add Diversity to its Ranks

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.

Top Venture Industry Group Launches Nonprofit to Add Diversity to its Ranks

As the country reckons with racial inequity forced to the fore by the George Floyd protests, the National Venture Capital Association launched a nonprofit Tuesday with a focus on building diversity.

Dubbed Venture Forward, the $5.5 million effort had been in the works for years and is being backed by Silicon Valley Bank, Deloitte and Gunderson Dettmer along with dozens of individuals.


The 501(c)(3) will help the industry that bankrolls startups and prides itself on fueling innovation to diversify its ranks.

"It's a long term sustainable way to think about how we are shaping the human capital, the culture, the values and the narrative of venture," said Maryam Haque, the executive director of Venture Forward.

The effort has already been underway and was supposed to be announced in March but was pushed back because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The venture will focus on four areas: diversity and inclusion, education, research and history.

"(Venture) has traditionally not been a very diverse and inclusive ecosystem," she said. "We have seen more progress in terms of women partners coming into roles at venture firms, but it's been very little to no progress when you look at partners that are black or Latinx."

The industry has been dominated by white men. Along with the rest of the nation, it's facing a moment of self reflection. Among the programs are an online university with scholarships geared to those underrepresented in venture.

About 21% of investment professionals in the industry are women, up 6 percentage points from 2016

Venture Forward has a separate board from NVCA. Board members include Christy Chin of Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Bobby Franklin of NVCA, Jennifer Friel Goldstein of Silicon Valley Bank, Charles Hudson of Precursor Ventures, Ray Leach of JumpStart, Kate Mitchell of Scale Venture Partners and Scott Sandell of NEA.

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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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