By the end of Thanksgiving break, we had a draft, and we worked with a couple dozen our friends finalize a 23-page guide on Google Docs outlining best practices for influencing your members of Congress. We ran it by our parents, and other friends outside the Beltway, and asked them if they’d find it useful. After work on December 14th, I tweeted the guide out to my roughly 700 followers on Twitter. To our amazement, it got promoted by some very influential people, like Robert Reich and George Takei.
Screendoor is launching as a wave of new funds and initiatives are picking up in the venture industry, historically slow to major change but galvanized over recent months since the death of George Floyd. Those include the launch of funds from Zane Venture Fund and Collab Capital in Atlanta; a new fund from Harlem Capital in New York; MaC Venture Capital in Los Angeles; and Sixty8 Capital in Indianapolis, among others. And other programs, such as a new scout program launched by BLCK VC with Lightspeed and Sequoia, have looked to inject more investors into the ecosystem.
Additionally, consensus means either one of us would do the deal on our own, not just that the other person should do it. Early on I conjectured that we should do an investment Satya proposed, even if I didn’t think the company itself was as special as he did. He stopped the conversation and said, “no, that’s not how we’re going to work. I appreciate the trust but you need to have conviction too.” This has worked well for us thus far but we certainly keep an eye on our occasional disagreements and try to understand if that’s a sign of a bad investment or just a risky one. In venture capital, I see diversity not as a hollow buzzword, but a mission to make the startup ecosystem—and thus, the larger world—a more representative place. This mission extends beyond the founders and executives in our portfolio, but also to the fellow funders who are well-positioned to back a broad range of businesses with customers across backgrounds, genders, races and ethnicities.
That is, some partners wanted to do the deal and others didn’t. Goal number one is to get capital into the hands of underrepresented General Partners faster, and goal number two is to build the networks to support the growth of lasting homebrew hunter walk vcs screendoor firms. In doing so, Screendoor aims to advance a vision of the future where underrepresented voices are heard loud and clear, championing a new generation of winners that will resonate with all communities and demographics.
To me, differentiation is the articulation and communication of your strategy. My Twitter feed is historically filled with tech snark and startup news but in 2017 I’ve seen a disproportionate number of #Resist House Parties, protest signs and town halls. For this I credit Indivisible, a new grassroots org which is really mobilizing local level progressives. Indivisible started as a viral Google Doc, which is just an amazing story. Thanks to their cofounder Ezra Levin for joining me for Five Questions.
Within a couple hours, traffic was so heavy to the Google Doc that it crashed — people couldn’t download or print the guide. That weekend, we had a couple dozen friends over to our house to throw together a website and figure out a way to start responding to all the messages coming in. Raise money for the candidates who challenge Republican members of Congress, but in the aggregate it will add up. I found another woman online who was thinking along the same lines.
We already know diversity improves investment outcomes, which means there’s no excuse for standing idle. In order to be truly differentiated as a venture fund you need to be the wrong choice for some set of excellent founders. By definition, if you’re right for all entrepreneurs then you’re a commodity. On this note, it’s also worth explaining that Indivisible is driven by small donations by design.
Techcrunch Early Stage 2022 is April 14, aka right around the corner, and it’s in San Francisco. Join us for a one-day founder summit featuring GV’s Terri Burns, Greylock’s Glen Evans and Felicis’ Aydin Senkut. The TC team has been fiending to get back in person, so don’t be surprised if panels are a little spicier than usual.
Please support the Crooked Media team by subscribing to Pod Save the World and buying some merch. It’s always felt more like an imperative than a choice to devote a lot of time and energy to #GrabYourWallet. For me, this work has significantly expanded beyond the scope of just the Trump boycott and is now about flexing our consumer power in ways that promote respect and inclusion in general. The #GrabYourWallet movement sprung up in the days following the release of the Access Hollywood tapes.