Serena Williams is a mother, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, and has invested in several Black and female-founded software firms over the past nine years as an angel investor. After being chosen as the keynote speaker for the upcoming Black Tech Week Conference, she was prepared to impart her investment knowledge to the audience. At Black Tech Week in Cincinnati in late July, Williams took the stage in front of a nearly full Music Hall.
The tennis pro and managing partner of San Francisco-based Serena Ventures discussed her journey into investment as well as the startup trends that interest her the most. Specifically, one that seems to be adopted by nearly everyone at the moment. Williams was the headline speaker at the tech conference, which was launched in 2015 in Miami but made its Queen City premiere when Lightship Capital acquired it in March.
Williams spent just over a half-hour answering questions from CEO and founder of the Lightship Foundation Candice Matthews Brackeen. Williams claimed that angel investing played a significant role in how she first entered the business sector. Serena Ventures, her company, raised a $111 million fund in May to support early-stage startups.
“I would be literally playing a match and thinking to myself at the coin toss, ‘I wish I had invested in Google,’” said Williams.
At S by Serena, her independent clothing line, it was also clear that she was drawn to the entrepreneurial world.
“I went to fashion school…That was my passion, but even when I was doing that, I was thinking about other things. I started investing,” she said.
Serena Ventures' initial fund appears to be propelled by data like this one, which Williams just re-posted on Twitter: 98.7% of the $69 trillion in private corporate capital goes to white men. White women and "everyone else" are eligible for the remaining 1.3 percent.
“Whether it's venture people saying that I shouldn't be doing it, or it's tennis when people said I'll never be good at it, I do think there's a part of me that always will enjoy proving people wrong.”
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