November 30th, 2011
Wanted: Latino Venture Capitalists

Does anyone have $100 million they can spare? There’s a club I want to join and I’m a little short on cash to get the door opened. This is purely altruistic, so know that your help is helping a greater cause.

I read where only 2% of the nation’s venture capitalists are Latino, and I’m appalled. I want to change that, for the sake of diversity, so I’m willing to sacrifice the next 10 or so years of my life for the greater good — someone, as they say, has got to do it.

I’m thankful to the National Venture Capitalist Association (yes, there actually is such a thing; and yes, that’s the club I want to join) for calling attention (albeit inadvertently)  to their own, gargantuan, diversity shortfall. The association recently did a census of their membership, it was reported in Gawker and the New York Times, that found that a paltry 2% of all venture capitalists counted were Latino. Here’s how the Times broke the numbers down:

Of 600 professionals surveyed, from general partners to marketers, 87 percent identified themselves as white, 9 percent were Asian, 2 percent black or Latino, with the remaining 2 percent calling themselves “mixed race.” The numbers were roughly the same as the last survey, in 2008, when 88 percent of respondents were white.

There’s also a gender imbalance. Only 11% of actual investors are women, and that’s down from three years ago. But there’s little I can do to personally change that, short of a gender re-assignment, and trust me on this, I don’t any part of that (I’m perfectly at ease in the perception of my cluelessness. Guys, you know what I’m talking about). I can’t change my culture, nor would I want to if I could — I consider being Latino a fortunate accident of birth.

So my only recourse is to be rich, and I’m not, so I need help. Here’s what I have going for me:

Newcomers to the industry were less likely to be white and male. In that group, Asians in particular were more widely represented. Of those who had worked in venture capital for five years or less, 77 percent were white and 17 percent Asian; only 6 percent were black, Latino or mixed race.

Six percent of newbie venture capitalists are Latino — 2% total. That’s a steep learning curve. But I figure we have to start someplace. I think passing the hat is as good a place as any. So if I mix the 6% newbie count with my life-long string of dumb luck, I figure I’ve got a pretty good chance of eventually rubbing elbows with the Silicon Valley venture rich guys. And in doing so, talking one for the team in the name of diversity.

Your thank-you’s are humbly appreciated.

[Photo by sunshinecity]

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