Friday Letter: Positive signs emerging

The new fund launched by Andreessen Horowitz may be small at $2.2m, but its impact could be big.

It’s only June and already this has been a hard year.

At times it’s been frightening, sad and chaotic dealing with covid-19, social distancing, working from home and watching friends and family members deal with layoffs and their impacted businesses.

This past week, we’ve witnessed a number of protests in every US state and worldwide, and I’ve followed what the VC community has had to say about it on Twitter. Not all of it is positive, as some say that investors have not done enough to promote minority-led start-ups and that offering office hour visits with underserved founders or people of color is not enough.

Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) has also been under duress this week for announcing in a blog post this week that it is launching a seed-stage fund to back underrepresented and underserved founders.

The criticism is that the firm manages billions of dollars, but the fund is only $2.2 million. But that’s only its initial size. The Talent x Opportunity (TxO) fund, as it’s called and which the firm says it began working on six months ago, will grow in size over time from donations made by the partners and others.

Ben Horowitz, the firm’s co-founder, and his wife Felicia have already pledged to match an additional $5 million in donations to the fund.

The effort will be led by Nait Jones, who’s served as a partner at a16z for five years after previously working with the firm’s portfolio founders on go-to-market plans. He moved to Silicon Valley from the Midwest a decade ago and he’s worth following on Twitter at @NaithanJones, where he’s encountered some negative comments over the small-sized fund.

But it’s efforts like this that will certainly grow and encourage others.

As the firm writes in the blog post: “We are looking for entrepreneurs who did not have access to the fast track in life but who have great potential. Their products can be non-tech or tech; they should be from underserved communities (all backgrounds welcome); and ideally, their business will have an interesting model, niche market, and/or a little traction to indicate the promise and potential.”

It looks to me like a good thing.

Let me know what you think. What are your thoughts on how the VC community should help underserved markets? Or tell me what your firm is up to. If you’d like to share with me, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at agoldfisher@buyoutsinsider.com and I’m open to voice and video calls.