Entrepreneurs press VC industry to diversify its ranks

More than 400 tech executives and company founders have formed a coalition to push for more diversity in tech's venture capital industry.

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Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
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NewCo co-founder and CEO John Battelle is among hundreds of chief executives and founders encouraging the VC industry to diversify its ranks.

Founders for Change

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are apparently fed up with the lack of diversity in the venture capital world.

A coalition of more than 400 tech executives and company founders known as Founders for Change has 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.

The group released a statement Tuesday highlighting the importance of racial and gender diversity in the tech industry and invited other entrepreneurs to join the group by making a commitment to increase diversity.

"I believe in a more diverse and inclusive tech industry," the members' statement reads. "I am dedicated to having a diverse team and board, and when I have a choice of investment partners, the diversity of their firms will be an important consideration."

The effort comes as 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. Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter now regularly release diversity reports, highlighting low percentages of female and minority employees, with few moving up the management chain.

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.

The industry has also been snared in the slew of controversies involving men behaving badly in the tech world, as well as in entertainment, politics and media. The incidents have prompted several executives at venture capital funds to step down.

Shervin Pishevar, an early investor in Uber, resigned last year from Sherpa Capital, the venture capital firm he co-founded in 2013, amid allegations of sexual harassment and assault by multiple women.

Steve Jurvetson, one of Silicon Valley's most high-profile venture capitalists, left his namesake firm, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, last year amid a sexual harassment investigation. Binary Capital co-founder Justin Caldbeck left his job in June after a story in The Information said he'd allegedly made sexual advances at female entrepreneurs.

Solving for XX: The tech industry seeks to overcome outdated ideas about "women in tech."

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