In the last few months, we’ve seen much of Silicon Valley finally start to acknowledge generations of systemic racial inequity and take actionable steps to empower and support underrepresented people in tech. Funds are looking to invest capital more equitably and have started to take concrete steps to achieve this goal.
For example, Eniac Ventures and Hustle Fund have started to meet with more Black founders via consultations and encouraging cold inbound pitches. Initiatives like venture capital fellowships run by Susa Ventures and Unshackled Ventures will allow for increased representation in investment teams. While these initiatives are exciting, it’s important to explore how we can enable sustainable change and solve the diversity problem at the root.
It’s as simple as this: Investing in diverse perspectives makes for a far more efficient economy. The data also confirms this, given that homogeneous investing teams had a success rate for M&A and IPOs that was 26.4%-32.2% lower. Data since 1990 shows that approximately only 8% of VCs identify as women, with 2% of VCs identifying as Latinx and less than 1% identifying as Black.
It’s clear that the inequitable deployment of capital that results from homogenous investment teams at VC funds has translated into missed opportunity for outsized financial returns. Since this really comes down to how venture funds operate at their core, an entity that can greatly influence this and reinvent the status quo are VC funds’ limited partners.
Limited partners are the often unheard of backers of venture capital funds. Institutional venture capital funds raise money from sources such as high-net-worth individuals (HNWs), endowments, foundations, fund of funds, banks, insurance/pension funds and sovereign wealth funds that they will in turn use to invest money into high-growth, category-defining startups (the part that you do hear about).
LPs hold a lot of power in the venture financing life cycle as institutional venture capital firms can’t write checks at the scale they do without the external financing that LPs provide. Since LPs are the source of capital, they can control who they invest in (GPs) and how they invest and manage their capital. What if LPs are the missing link who can control the flow of capital to GPs who empower, find and fund more underrepresented entrepreneurs and keep them accountable?