Tech has dropped the ball. For an industry that holds so much power, and prides itself on being ahead of the curve, the diversity of venture capital and among tech entrepreneurs leaves so much to be desired. More than 80% of VC firms don’t have a single black partner. It’s no surprise, then, that the vast, vast majority of venture funding comes from white men to white men.
This is why we’re excited to sit down for a chat with Sydney Sykes, co-founder of BLCK VC, a community by and for Black VCs. You can join this Zoom webinar and ask your own questions, or tune in for the live broadcast on YouTube. The episode airs at 1pm ET/10am PT on Thursday, June 11th.
Sykes graduated from Harvard University in 2016 with an A.B. in Psychology and a secondary in Economics, where she served as president of the Harvard Undergraduate Women and Business, the largest undergrad business org at the university. She held positions at Pandemic Labs, Proverb Ltd., the Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
In 2016, Sykes joined New Enterprise Associates as the first analyst on the tech team in Menlo Park, with a focus on consumer investments, particularly zeroed in on the mobile space. After more than two years in venture, Sykes moved to the operations side and works at a fashion startup in SF while continuing to co-lead BLCK VC.
Sykes started BLCK VC alongside Frederik Groce in 2018, with the mission to increase the number of Black investors in tech. Specifically, BLCK VC wants to go from 200 Black investors to 400 Black investors by 2024.
The organization does this by offering resources for VCs and investors looking to navigate the industry, as well as forums for communication among Black investors and the broader VC community to tackle their diversity and inclusion efforts head on.
BLCK VC held a “We Won’t Wait” day of action on June 4, urging VC firms to discuss the ongoing protests and share with their portfolio companies and teams how they’ll respond, as well as to donate to organizations that are fostering change and look hard at their own diversity and strategize on how to improve.
Sykes also wrote an article this week on the steps firms can take to actually make a difference, including having honest, inclusive discussions about diversity, donating to organizations that are creating change and diversifying their talent and pipeline.
We’ll chat with Sykes about the short and long-term strategies that VC firms can employ to become more diverse, hear her thoughts on funds that focus on underserved founders like a16z’s donor-advised TxO fund and SoftBank’s $100 million Opportunity Growth Fund, and check in on how ‘We Won’t Wait’ went.
Audience members can also ask their own questions.
Because we think this is a critical conversation to have, we’re making this episode of Extra Crunch Live free to participate in or view later.
We hope to see you there!
You can add the details of the call directly to your calendar with this link.