She’s making sure she actively funds the future!
Serena Williams’ venture capital firm just raised $111 million dollars to invest in diverse founders, the firm’s blog reports.
Williams is one of the most renowned tennis players of our time, holding 23 Grand Slam titles and a number of sports related business endeavors that include fashion lines and entertainment deals. Nearly a decade ago, Williams shifted her focus to investing, becoming an active angel investor, now boasting a portfolio of 60 companies that include the online education platform MasterClass, mobile payment service SendWave and healthy chef crafted food company Daily Harvest.
“I’ve always been fascinated with technology, and I’ve always loved how it really shapes our lives. When I met my husband, that was our first conversation. That’s how we met. I was talking about investments,” The New York Times reports Williams saying.
Recently, Williams shifted her investment focus to funding founders from diverse backgrounds, inspired by a talk from Clear CEO Caryn Seidman-Becker and Jamie Dimon, the head of JPMorgan Chase. It was during the talk that Seidman-Becker mentioned that less than 2% of VC funds go to women.
“I go up to her afterward and asked, ‘Tell me about this 2 percent – I know maybe you misspoke.’ And she says, ‘No, it’s true.” And I literally couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that 98 percent of all of this money we’re talking about – billions of dollars – goes to one type of individual,” Williams explained.
In 2019, Williams partnered with Bumble to invest in more women founders of color, speaking about the importance of women entrepreneurs.
“I’ve learned how impactful one woman’s voice can be when given a platform to speak and be heard. I am passionate about building on this progress and opening doors for women of all backgrounds, especially women of color, to share their message and trust in their potential to accomplish great things. By joining forces with the Bumble Fund, we will continue amplifying female entrepreneurs and creating a place for them to personally and professionally champion their growth,” Williams previously told reporters.
Now, her firm, Serena Ventures, has raised an inaugural fund of $111 million to invest in founders with more diverse points of view. The only requirement of the firm is that founders are bringing diversity to the market but to date, the majority of the portfolio company founders come from historically underrepresented backgrounds.
Williams joins a league of celebrities looking to use their platforms and money to ensure diverse demographics have access and opportunities in various sectors. Billionaire Robert F. Smith is setting his sights on HBCU students, creating pipeline programs that will prepare them for high level careers and recently allotting $1.8 million in microgrants to cover financial needs that might otherwise prevent students from graduating.
Photo Courtesy of Serena Williams