Threading the needle: Exploring 5 ideas with LGBT+ VC founders


Silicon Valley is full. People from all walks of life, but very few resources are equally distributed, especially when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community.

Currently, it is estimated that less than 1% of venture capital goes to LGBTQ+ founders. There are no figures for how much of that capital goes specifically to trans founders, or how many investors are part of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s common knowledge that LGBTQ+ founders still feel the need to hide their identities from investors.

Enter LGBT+ VC is a non-profit organization that aims to raise LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+-affiliated venture investors. Launched by investors Tiana Tucks, a black trans woman who has worked at Accenture, Sequoia Capital and a Silicon Valley bank, and Jackson Block, a former venture capitalist who identifies as bisexual, the nonprofit hopes to foster a new generation of inclusion. Creating an ecosystem to champion and embrace LGBQ+ founders and funders by developing and educating investors.

To this end, LGBT+ VC plans to run networking events, conferences and educational classes for the LGBTQ+ community.

“We’re trying to change who an investor is and where these founders can find opportunities,” Block told TechCrunch+.

“The best investors right now are investing in LGBTQ-based companies,” Tukes added. “Open AI is a prime example. That’s a hot ticket company right now for me.”

The initiative comes amid a historic wave of hostility against the LGBTQ+ community in the US, with anti-trans legislation sweeping the country and crimes against the LGBTQ+ community on the rise nationwide. In fact, Tux and Block were inspired to start the nonprofit after the Colorado Springs nightclub shooting late last year, in which a gunman targeted the city’s only LGBTQ+ club and killed five people.

“It was hard to see the silence of the venture community,” Block told TechCrunch+. “Tiana and I got together and asked, ‘Where can we make a difference?’ We thought.”

That led the duo to tap into their networks and reassess the relationship of the LGBTQ+ community to the tech ecosystem. So far, Tux’s reception has been warm, and the nonprofit has managed to attract investors from a few law and accounting firms, as well as banks and large technology companies.

On June 19 and June 20, the charity will host its first conference in New York City, dubbed Stonewall to Silicon Valley. It’s all part of a larger mission to change what it means to be a venture capitalist. I recently sat down with the two investors to talk about their nonprofit, how they got started, and their plans for building a collaborative network.

(Editor’s note: The interview below has been edited for length and clarity.)

Why did you decide to start this nonprofit together and how did you know it was time to take the risk?

Jackson Block: There’s a great chance it’s hiding in plain sight. 20 percent of Gen Z identify as LGBTQ+. Moreover, according to Gallup, the LGBTQ+ community is one of the fastest growing segments of the American population. That’s a market opportunity.

Tiana Tooks: Our mission is to help all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people thrive. There are times in American history, especially in the civil rights movement, where there are black leaders and Jewish leaders. [Block is Jewish] They came together in times of crisis for social progress. We see this first as a continuation of that legacy and second, as part of our LGBTQ+ history.



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