Silicon Valley has come under fire in recent months for its lack of diversity. Now tech companies and investors are beginning to put more money to fix it. Brian Krzanich, chief executive of Intel, announced today that his Intel Capital venture arm will invest $125 million over the next 5 years in technology startups run by women and underrepresented minorities. According to Windows 10 news The fund will be run by Intel Capital and is additional to the $300 million the company has promised to spend on making its workforce more representative of the U.S. population in terms of gender and ethnicity.
“Our goal with this new fund is to meaningfully support a technology startup workforce more reflective of society, and ultimately to benefit Intel and the broader economy through its success,” Brian Krzanich, Intel’s CEO, said in a statement Tuesday.
Intel Capital launches new fund for startups run by women, minorities
The fund, shepherded by Lisa Lambert, an African-American and Managing Director at Intel Capital, has already taken steps in that direction. She and her team have already spent $16.7 million on an initial four investments, including one company led by a woman.
Brit Morin’s Brit & Co, an online San Francisco-based retailer sells do-it-yourself kits and tutorials. CareCloud, which provides cloud-based healthcare documentation services; Mark One, which makes a “smart cup” that recognizes beverage and nutritional content; and Venafi, a security company that provides tools to assess, fix and block keys and certificates are among the rest.
The move comes in the light of technology and IT firms facing strong criticism of having a predominantly white and male workforce, which some argue creates a climate that discourages women and minorities from aspiring to work in technology or sticking around. Increased diversity would lead to stronger, more innovative companies, the thinking goes.
“We see a lack of engagement and involvement across the industry as a whole. We want to be a catalyst. We believe it’s good business. Half the population is women. Women are leading in every other industry. And there is a tremendous demographics shift,” Lambert said.
Less than 15 percent of venture capital companies funded in the U.S. have a woman in the executive team. Companies with a woman CEO receive only 3 percent of venture capital dollars and fewer than 1 percent of the founders of Silicon Valley companies are Latino or African American, Intel said.
Lambert said that 10 percent of Intel Capital’s portfolio companies are currently led by women and underrepresented minorities. And 13 percent of Intel Capital’s employees are also in those groups. While that compares favourably to the rest of industry, it’s not enough for Krzanich’s vision.