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Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant is teaming up with a major venture capital firm to help get more people of color into Silicon Valley technology companies.
Durant, movie star Will Smith and Essence magazine publisher Richelieu Dennis have invested in a $15 million fund launched by prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, according to the Wall Street Journal on Monday. The fund, named “Culture,” will be backed by other black celebrities and media figures to address the continued lack of diversity in the tech industry, despite years of efforts by companies to address the problem.
Andreessen Horowitz and the Golden State Warriors declined to comment on the fund. The Warriors also said Durant wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Other details — like how many partners have joined the fund — are not known as the fund is not yet closed, according to the Wall Street Journal.
It’s not Durant’s first foray into investing in technology companies. Since joining the Warriors in 2016, Durant has invested in at least six startups, including the food-delivery startup Postmates, according to Pitchbook.
The Culture fund will invest alongside Menlo Park-based Andreessen Horowitz’s main investing fund, according to the Journal. It will also “focus purposefully and intently on creating opportunities for people of color in tech,” according to Dennis, who spoke to the Journal.
Andreessen Horowitz will not collect the proceeds it normally gets from fees and carried interest. Instead, it will donate that money to nonprofits working to boost the number of blacks in Silicon Valley and other technology industries. Investors like Durant, however, will profit if the fund grows.
Silicon Valley and venture capital have seen little progress in the past with bringing more people of color into technology. Large companies like Facebook and Google showed little change in employee demographics in their latest diversity reports earlier this year.
In May, the Congressional Black Caucus visited Silicon Valley companies to press them to do more to diversify their teams; its co-chair Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said some of the companies had “gone backwards” on diversity, according to The Verge.
The lack of diversity is acute in venture capital as well. About 58 percent of venture capitalists are white males, whereas only 3 percent are black, according to a recent study from Equal Ventures partner Richard Kerby.
With a white, male venture capital base, black entrepreneurs have received a fraction of funding to break through in the tech sector. Since 2009, black women-led startups have raised $289 million total in venture/angel funding — a tiny fraction of the $424.7 billion in total tech venture funding raised in the same period — according to a new study in June by digitalundivided, an Atlanta-based organization.