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Andreessen Horowitz reportedly plans new VC fund for black investors

The effort aims to boost black engagement with the tech community, the Wall Street Journal reports.

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Kevin Durant is reportedly a partner on a VC effort to boost the black community's involvement in tech.

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Prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz is launching a new venture capital fund that will target black celebrities, athletes and media personalities to boost diversity in tech, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Initial limited partners in the fund include basketball star Kevin Durant, actor Will Smith and Essence magazine publisher Richelieu Dennis, the newspaper reported Monday, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

The relatively small fund -- $15 million – will operate alongside Andreessen Horowitz's main $1.5 billion fund but won't operate like a normal fund, the Journal reported. Investors will profit if the fund does well, but Andreessen Horowitz will waive the fees and interest it would normally collect and donate them to nonprofits to boost the black community's investment in tech.

The fund is being created at a time when Silicon Valley companies grapple with how to increase workforce diversity in an industry dominated by white men and permeated with corporate cultures that seem biased against women and female engineers. Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other tech companies now regularly release diversity reports, highlighting low percentages of women and minority employees, with few moving up the management chain.

The lack of diversity is particularly pronounced at venture capital firms. Women accounted for 11 percent of venture capital firms' investment partners in 2016, according to a survey by the National Venture Capital Association and Deloitte. Latinos made up 2 percent of investment partners at the firms surveyed, while none employed black investment partners.

In March, a coalition of more than 400 tech executives and company founders known as Founders for Change was formed to demand more diversity in the venture capital industry. The group includes Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki.

An Andreessen Horowitz representative declined to comment on the report.

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