Of the vast sums of venture capital invested in fledgling U.S. companies, the overwhelming majority of that money is managed by White men. One NFL player wants to change that.
Malcolm Jenkins launched Broad Street Ventures with the goal of helping Black and Hispanic investors build wealth. The New Jersey native, who plays for the New Orleans Saints, started the $10 million fund with his own money as well as contributions from other professional football players. The fund, which focuses on tech and consumer product companies, has so far invested in Airbnb, learning platform Udemy and video game developer Epic Games.
Jenkins told CBSN he wants to open the door for people of color to become venture capitalists, and "hopefully we can prop it open for others to follow suit."
"We have more power and more leverage when we do this together," he said.
Jenkins is already recruiting fellow athletes to the cause. On Wednesday, NFL players Jacoby Brissett and Duron Harmon also joined the fund as investors.
In coming months, Broad Street will focus on finding more investors of color, particularly professionals in sports or entertainment, Jenkins said. The firm will also hold seminars where people of color can learn the basics of investing and how to vet early-stage companies.
The lack of diversity in the venture capital world is a known challenge for the industry. A 2019 Knight Foundation study found that 93% of venture capital money is held in funds owned by White men. Black Americans make up 4% of all venture capitalists, according to recent National Venture Capital Association data.
"The overall apparent lack of diversity among venture capital investment professionals also seems to be a factor in the lack of diversity in the leadership of VC-backed startups," the association said in a report. "Studies have shown that unconscious bias can affect investment decisions and play a role in which entrepreneurs investors fund."