Wednesday , December 22 2021

Those in charge of the startups in Seattle are in favor of racism and are committed to taking action

Clockwise from top left: Leslie Feinzaig, CEO of the Female Founders Alliance; Andrew Sampson, CEO of Rainway; Jessie Woolley-Wilson, CEO of DreamBox Learning; Remitly CEO Matt Oppenheimer; Sarah Bird, CEO of Moz; Leg Up CEO Jessica Eggert.

“Undoing years of institutionalized oppression will take years. But it is worth working. "

"Creating a fairer world requires that we be loud and incessantly anti-racist."

"I am committed to learning. To listen. To speak. For pushing. Love. Take action. "

This is a selection of Seattle start-up executives who are listening in response to outrage at George Floyd's death in Minneapolis and the underlying inequalities and discrimination illustrated by the incident.

Earlier this week, we took note of the response from major technology companies in the Seattle region, such as Amazon and Microsoft. However, the statements made by startup executives offer a more detailed and targeted answer with suggestions for employees.

The background is a tech industry that has been criticized for racial and gender inequality, and software such as artificial intelligence that can reinforce human prejudices.

Changes are already underway this week – SoftBank today announced a $ 100 million fund to invest in companies run by color entrepreneurs. The fund came together in 24 hours, CNBC reported.

According to research, more than 75% of all rounds go to all white founding teams the Kauffman FoundationWhile 1% of VC-backed founders were black between 2013 and 2018, Axios reported. According to a 2018 report, black decision-makers in the country's best-known VC companies only made up 1.6% of the total The information.

Andrew Sampson, CEO of gaming startup Rainway, attended protests in Seattle last weekend said He was "beaten to death with tear gas". He encouraged investors "normalize the idea of ​​investing in talented black founders by actually doing it".

Many startup executives have reported this week on the role that tech companies and the wider industry can play in resolving racial injustices.

Sarah Bird, CEO of marketing startup Moz in Seattle, wrote a blog post Tuesday titled "Black Lives Matter". She said Moz employees "had the courage to stand up for love and justice" and referred to various resources.

"It is not enough simply to" do no harm "or" not to be racist, "" wrote Bird. “This well-trodden path has always led to the same brutal results. At Moz we are moving to a higher standard. Creating a fairer world requires that we be loud and incessantly anti-racist. "

Manny Medina, CEO of sales automation start-up Outreach, wrote: "We need a high level of self-confidence, self-criticism and self-examination to question the status quo and drive real meaningful changes." He said he supports issues such as the ACLU, NAACP, Reclaim the Block and Black Lives Matter of Seattle.

"We are dealing with institutionalized, structural and systemic racism," said Medina wrote on LinkedIn. “It took a long time to build up this inequality and it won't heal overnight. Racism is a deeply rooted problem that is rooted in our institutions – socially, economically and fairly. "

Outreach CEO Manny Medina (right) and Convoy CEO Dan Lewis speak at the 2019 GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo)

In a video message to employeesDan Lewis, CEO of Convoy, said as a white man in Seattle that he couldn't directly understand or experience what it was like to be a colored person in this country.

"It doesn't mean I shouldn't try, and it doesn't mean I'm silent," he said. "When I think about the opportunity I have – that I can go anywhere and go anywhere and feel comfortable and safe – not everyone can do it. And that's nonsense. It's not OK. "

The Female Founders Alliance, a Seattle-based organization and accelerator for early-stage women-led startups, urged its community to "practice active alliance" by giving black job candidates a fair shot and donating to groups against racist and economic Fighting inequalities is what experts learn from their children about anti-racism and support local businesses that are owned by colored people. FFA also organized Office hours for black founders.

“The real work of the allies goes beyond making a statement. It's about doing the job that makes a difference, ”FFA founder Leslie Feinzaig wrote in a newsletter. "The real work of the ally is in the moments and places where it is most uncomfortable, not where it is easy. It is better to act so imperfectly than to do nothing at all."

In a message to employees, Jessie Woolley-Wilson, CEO of the educational startup DreamBox Learning, made several recommendations: conduct authentic conversations with peers of different races; Read the Martin Luther King Jr .. Letter from a prison in Birmingham;; and listen to Duke University Radio podcast scene and The 1619 project podcast.

"Do something that matches your authentic leadership voice and has a desire to make this world better for all and future generations, including your own descendants," she added. “Do something that moves the needle against racial justice and something that fights bigotry, misogyny and intolerance of all kinds. Do something to make children proud and hopeful of the world we leave them in. "

Amazon, Microsoft and other technology leaders end in protests against George Floyd's death

Jessica Eggert, CEO of the start-up Leg Up for the childcare market, called out those who did not speak up.

"Ask the people who don't use their platforms to talk about what's going on. Do you really want them on your team?" she tweeted. "Not me."

Remitly CEO Matt Oppenheimer shared a Google Doc with "anti-racism resources for whites".

"While no words can heal an unjust world or solve this pain, we all have to speak" Oppenheimer tweeted. “Racism has no place in our world. The time for change is now. "

Seattle-based investment firms also voiced their opinion this week. Maveron committed to donating a percentage of its profits to organizations that deal with racial injustice.

"This is a start, not a solution" The company tweeted. “We focus on using our platform forever: capital, time, network, mentoring, among others. We want to commit to changes that are deeply intended, have a long horizon, and effectively tackle the hard work of correcting inequality. "

About Nancie Clifford

Nancie Clifford is a housewife and loves technology. He writes on various websites.

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