VC Joe Lonsdale’s tweets on ‘awakened’ tech diversity arouse investor reluctance

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Last week, in response to someone who tweeted that VCs were racist, venture capitalist and entrepreneur Joe lonsdale attributed the disparities in venture capital investments to “average black culture”.

“A real view: the average black culture must step up its efforts and stop having so many children born out of wedlock (statistical indicator of underperformance) / who do not value education or spend so much time doing their homework Lonsdale wrote in this deletion of a series of tweets.

The opinion of Lonsdale, who co-founded Palantir and heads early stage venture capitalist 8VC, has drawn sharp criticism from a number of tech investors, many of whom have called in the advisers and to Lonsdale sponsors, including Yahoo founder Jerry. Yang, Box CEO Aaron Levie and actor Leonardo DiCaprio – to denounce the actions of the entrepreneur.

In a tweet with a screenshot of the tweets from Londsale, Bessemer’s partner Elliott Robinson wrote, “[I]these are not VCs like [Joe Lonsdale] that hamper the technological ecosystem and society. These are the hundreds of LPs, co-investors, founders and decision-makers who remain silent because: they don’t care, they are afraid [or] They agree. I feel bad for him / them to live like this. It’s sad.”

General partner in stealth mode Lolita taub, who previously invested through Backstage Capital and the Community Fund, told anyone who agrees with Londsale’s “racist comment” not to follow her anymore.

Lightship Capital GP Brian brackeen meanwhile said in a tweet that “any LP of him is an accomplice” and that “there is no shame in being him in SF. The culture there is to accept people like him. Diversity in tech is not can’t improve until we diversify geography.

Lonsdale responded to a request for additional context, telling TechCrunch via email that he was “jumping on a flight” but “someone edited a screenshot and took a tweet totally out of context in order to provoke the ‘indignation”. He further added that “the people attacking me are politically motivated. You will notice that they are almost entirely on the far left and prefer divisive attacks rather than working together towards positive solutions. “

He insists that the context surrounding the statements has been lost from its original thread.

“I explained how past racism has probably caused issues with some cultures today that we need to discuss and resolve, and given the gravity of some of the things these communities have experienced in the past – the red line, Jim Crow, and so many terrible past problems – it’s not necessarily fair to attribute 100% of today’s problems to racism. “

Lonsdale also added that he has “invested millions of dollars in black founders and relevant philanthropic causes and proudly works with many advisors from these communities and we continue to do more to reach out to the talents of these communities and establish partnerships. Like I said, not only is it stupid to discriminate, but if someone comes from a difficult background and still manages to be successful, that means they are likely to be resilient, which means they are is a better founder to support. I look forward to continuing to support talented black founders.

Asked about the black founders that Lonsdale has invested in, a spokesperson for Lonsdale replied that it “does not seem appropriate to list names and force [anyone] to answer questions ”since“ Lonsdale’s notes were taken out of context ”.

Lonsdale has a very successful business history but also a history of troubled personal relationships. In addition to Palantir and 8VC, Lonsdale has co-founded a line of companies, including Addepar, OpenGov, Affinity, Epirus, Esper, Swiftscale Bio, Resilience Bio, Hearth and LIT, which recently received a $ 50 million investment from Tiger Global.

He has been the main character of a number of controversies, including a breakup with former investment partners and a high-profile lawsuit filed by a former Stanford student that was later dropped.

More recently, He called “Any man in an important position who takes 6 months off for a newborn … a loser.”

Lonsdale – whose venture capital firm has been successful in its fundraising efforts despite public controversy – has tried to clarify its previous position since taking it last Friday. Later that same day, for example, he tweeted: “It is worth clarifying: you can be against divisive and ‘waking’ nonsense, and I am. But we should always appreciate the positive aspects of our 21st century culture and wisdom – that it is important to be aware of past racism, kind, inclusive and against real racism of all kinds.

“I don’t necessarily expect TC to give me a fair hearing – a sensational piece attacking and doing [people] thinking someone is racist and getting angry is what you are taught to do in journalism these days – but hopefully you will consider representing that point of view fairly, ”Lonsdale said in a statement emailed to TechCrunch.

In a competitive and cash-rich fundraising market, Lonsdale’s controversial comments could draw negative attention to his venture capital firm and make founders less inclined to accept his money. Indeed, the founder of Block Party Tracy Chou claimed on Twitter that even before making her final comments, Lonsdale spoke to her band Y Combinator and described her comments on stage as “terribly unpleasant.”

“It fears that even after all, it is presented by the establishment as an example and to give advice” she tweeted.

In the meantime, Lonsdale may find it more difficult to partner with the small but growing number of black investors in the venture capital industry. The head of financing Del johnson and Spencer tyson, an associate at Revere VC, were among many investors who took to Twitter to dissect Lonsdale’s comments as a result, and their frustration was evident. Tyson tweeted: “What you and many others don’t realize is that there is a difference between ‘awake’ culture and BLACK culture,” he said. “We are not your wealthy liberal friends you argue with at dinner parties… You attacked BLACK culture. “

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For now, Lonsdale continues his efforts to recontextualize his earlier statements. “The data suggests there are structural issues (likely caused by past racism) that hold people back and cause disparities, not racism on the part of VCs,” Lonsdale tweeted. in a separate answer.


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