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“The problem is bias,” says Filip Diarra of the shortage of Black and minority founders in the tech industry.
“We all have bias and pieces of bias that are at the core of who we are as people since the dawn of mankind. Every war has existed because of bias, every hate crime has pretty much existed because of bias.”
Diarra is a tech founder whose startup NewNew has captured investment from top-tier VC firms Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund. It also counts actor Will Smith and execs from Twitter, Google, and Facebook among its backers.
NewNew is an app that describes itself as a “human stock market”. It allows users to control the lives of other people by allowing them to pay to cast votes on personal decisions such as what to wear or who to date.
The app is targeted toward creators, who can embed NewNew polls onto the likes of TikTok, Snapchat, or OnlyFans. While it is only at a beta stage at the moment, some of its early adopters range from pet groomers asking what cut they should go for to creative writers looking for inspiration as to where to take a story.
Diarra’s comments to Insider came after new research showed Black and minority founders in the UK were excluded from venture capital funding.
Diarra, alongside his cofounder Courtne Smith, are rarities in the tech sector in the US.
Around 2.1% of startup executives are Black, with Latinx making up 2.6%, according to a recent study by the Kauffman Fellows Journal. This compares to the wider working-age population of America, which is 13% Black, and 17% Latinx.
In London, around 3% of founders that received venture-capital backing identify as Black compared to the wider population, which is 16% Black, research from angel network Cornerstone Partners found. Cornerstone’s cofounder has attributed this not to a lack of Black and minority entrepreneurs, but implicit bias in the way venture capitalists choose to fund founders.
“You have people who have been very successful in tech who look a certain way,” adds Diarra, who stresses that he wishes to take nothing away from the tech founders that have gone before him.
“That is what drives a lot of the bias. For me, personally I can tell you I’ve spent very little time worrying about the colour of my skin … Life’s not fair, right? And you can cry about it or you can attack it with everything you’ve got, and I chose the latter.”
The NewNew cofounder’s advice to other minority founders is to “build great things, defy the odds, and be good to others”. He says that over time the stereotypical makeup of a tech founder being white will change, but it will take generations to do so.
Diarra’s backers are among some the highest-profile tech investors in the world. Andreessen Horowitz has invested in an array of the biggest tech companies in history, including Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Okta, and Stripe. Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund meanwhile includes Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Palantir, and Spotify, in its investment …read more
Source:: Business Insider
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