500 Startups hosts diversity summit for tech entrepreneurs
500 Startups, an early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator, is hosting entrepreneurs, investors and the technology community in an all-day summit to discuss the future state of diversity in tech. The one day conference, called 2017 Unity & Inclusion ATL, will be held on June 10 at the Techsquare Labs in Atlanta.
The one-day conference will feature a number of keynote speakers, panels and workshops on the topics of access to capital, building diverse teams and workplaces and growth marketing. Conference attendees will hear from the likes of Monique Woodard, a venture partner at 500 Startups; Tereza Nemessanyi, a startups coordinator at Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT); Ken Grimes, the managing director at Black Angel Tech Fund; and Joey Womack, the founder of Amplify4Good, a digital innovation lab for entrepreneurs.
The conference will also detail information about the 500 Startups Seed Program, a four-month initiative giving young entrepreneurs access to tech mentors and startup experts. In exchange for a six percent equity stake in a business, the program will invest $150,000. The program operates out of San Francisco, Mountain View, California and Mexico.
500 Startups was founded by Dave McClure, the former director of marketing at PayPal Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: PYPL), and Christine Tsai, a former product marketing manager at Google. The Mountain View-based incubator has strategic partnerships with Microsoft, International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), SendGrid, Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), First Republic Bank and Pivotal.
The technology industry has been widely criticized for a lack of diversity. In 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a report that found: “Compared to overall private industry, the high tech sector employed a larger share of whites (63.5 percent to 68.5 percent), Asian Americans (5.8 percent to 14 percent) and men (52 percent to 64 percent), and a smaller share of African Americans (14.4 percent to 7.4 percent), Hispanics (13.9 percent to 8 percent), and women (48 percent to 36 percent),” according to the report.
Editor’s note: Since this article was published, 500 Startups CEO Christine Tsai announced that the leadership structure of the company had changed recently, due to co-founder Dave McClure’s “inappropriate interactions with women in the tech community.” McClure’s role has been limited to fulfilling obligations to investors as a general partner. McClure and Tsai apologized in separate blog posts, saying that McClure is attending counseling. “The change I want to see is a startup environment where everyone, regardless of gender and background feels welcome and safe. Where sexual harassment or discrimination will not impede great talent from producing great impact,” wrote Tsai.