New Report Finds Women, Black, and Latinx Founders Receive Less Than One-Third of LA Venture Investments, Significantly Smaller Checks

The report by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs reinforces the importance of PledgeLA’s recent goal to help double the diversity in Los Angeles’ venture capital portfolios within five years.

LOS ANGELES – A new report from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs that tracks investments made by LA-based venture firms connected to the Annenberg Foundation’s PledgeLA initiative found slight increases in funding to women and Black founders when compared with the previous year. However, there are still many gaps remaining, especially when it comes to check size and venture firms’ comparative assets under management.

From an analysis of 2022 investments made by 75 LA-based venture firms in 884 tech startups led by 1,663 founders and co-founders, the following insights emerged:

  • In 2022, 30% of companies receiving investment were led by women, Black, and/or Latinx founders.
  • However, these founders only received 4.6% ($6.4 billion) of the $139 billion invested in 2022.
  • VC firms led by underrepresented minorities and those with a diversity thesis were almost twice as likely to back Latinx and women founders, and four times more likely to invest in Black founders.
  • Traditional VCs had an average of $335M of assets under management (AUM), far exceeding VC firms led by underrepresented minorities ($53M), VC firms with a diversity thesis ($33M), or VC firms led by women ($17M).

“To meet the complex challenges of the 21st century, we must ensure access to capital isn’t a barrier to innovation,” said Noramay Cadena, PledgeLA venture leader and Managing Partner of Supply Change Capital, who just closed a $40M debut fund. “It’s time to shift the paradigm around backing companies (and funds) led by women and people of color – not as a charitable activity, but as filling long-standing innovation gaps and creating new opportunities that are great for business.”

To help focus the LA venture ecosystem on closing these gaps, PledgeLA announced a new regional goal called “50 in 5” during LA #TechWeek in June. The goal seeks to drive 50% of all venture investments to companies led by women, Black, and Latinx founders by 2028 (up from the current level of 30%). While this will require nearly doubling the current number of such companies receiving funding, Los Angeles has long been a national leader in portfolio diversity. The peak year, 2020, showed 39% of all venture investments going to these founder segments.

“We’ve seen study after study highlight how women founders and founders of color are more efficient and impactful in returning more of that capital to investors,” said Annenberg Foundation Executive Director Cinny Kennard. “In an industry so driven by data, we look forward to seeing the future findings align with investment practices.”

The 2023 report, completed by a research team led by Dr. Jasmine Hill at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, is the fourth in a series of reports on access to capital within PledgeLA venture firms. It remains the largest, most robust analysis of portfolio diversity in the Los Angeles tech ecosystem. 

Beyond reports and regional goals, PledgeLA is deploying a new set of programs that focus squarely on access to capital. These include a new event series designed to connect LPs with underrepresented fund managers, plans for a new regional equity-based fund-of-funds, and an updated version of the initiative’s successful VC Internship Program that will help increase awareness of venture capital and startup investing at LA-area universities. The PledgeLA team has also collaborated with leaders in other tech hubs, and is currently working to support the launch of a New York City-based effort this fall.

PledgeLA is a coalition of more than 215 LA venture capital firms and tech companies working to increase equity, community engagement, and accountability among LA companies.