Threading the Needle: Exploring 5 Ideas with the Founders of LGBT+ VC

Threading the Needle: Exploring 5 Ideas with the Founders of LGBT+ VC

Threading the Needle: Exploring 5 Ideas with the Founders of LGBT+ VC

Silicon Valley is full of people from all walks of life, but very little of its wealth is evenly distributed, especially when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community.

Currently, it is estimated that less than 1% of venture capital goes to openly LGBTQ+ founders. There are no numbers on how much of that capital goes specifically to trans founders or how many investors identify as part of the LGBTQ community. What is known is that LGBTQ founders still feel the need to hide their identities from investors.

Enter LGBT+ VC, a nonprofit that aims to support LGBTQ+ founders and investors allied with the cause. Launched by investors Tiana Tukes, a black trans woman who has worked at Accenture, Sequoia Capital and Silicon Valley Bank, and Jackson Block, a former early-career investor who identifies as bisexual, the nonprofit hopes fostering a new generation of inclusivity within the venture capital ecosystem by cultivating and educating investors to champion and accept LGBTQ+ founders and funders.

To that end, LGBT+ VC plans to hold networking events, conferences, and training courses for the LGBTQ+ community to help them learn how to become accredited investors, one of the many steps needed to change the world. mindset and add more intersectionality in risk theses.

“We’re trying to change who an investor is and who those founders can have opportunities with,” Block told TechCrunch.

“The best investors right now are investing in LGBTQ-founded companies,” Tukes added. “Open AI is a perfect example. This is, for me, the hot ticket company right now.

The initiative comes amid a historic wave of hatred directed against the LGBTQ+ community in the United States, with anti-trans legislation sweeping the country and crimes against the LGBTQ+ community rising across the country. In fact, Tukes and Block were inspired to start the nonprofit after the Colorado Springs nightclub shooting late last year, which saw a gunman target the only LGBT club in town. the town and murder five people.

“It was really hard to see the silence from the business community,” Block told TechCrunch. “Tiana and I got together, and we thought, ‘where can we make a difference?’”

This led the duo to tap into their networks and assess the relationship the LGBTQ+ community currently has with the tech ecosystem. So far, Tukes says the reception has been warm and the nonprofit has managed to attract investors from a few law and accounting firms, as well as banks and big tech companies.

On June 19 and 20, the nonprofit will hold its first summit in New York City, dubbed Stonewall to Silicon Valley. It’s all part of a larger mission to change what it means to be a venture capitalist. I recently sat down with the two investors to talk about their nonprofit, how they started it, and their plans for creating a network of allies.

(Editor’s note: the interview below has been edited for length and clarity)

TechCrunch: Why did you decide to start this nonprofit together, and how did you know the time was right to take the risk?

Jackson Block: There is a huge opportunity lurking in plain sight. Twenty percent of Gen Z identify as LGBTQ. Additionally, according to Gallup, the LGBTQ community is one of the fastest growing segments of the American population. It’s a market opportunity.

Tiana Tukes: Our mission is to help all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people thrive. In the history of the United States, in particular, there have been times, especially in the civil rights movement, when black leaders and Jewish leaders (Block is Jewish) came together in times of crisis for the social advancement. We see this as a continuation of that legacy first and second as part of our LGBTQ history.


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