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Intel Diversity Fund gives importance to women, minorities

Posted: 12 Jun 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel Capital? diversity? startup? minorities? fund?

Intel Capital's announcement to set-up a $125 million fund for startups led by women and minorities was welcomed as a small but significant step for a high tech investment sector that still largely ignores diversity. The Intel Capital Diversity Fund will be invested over five years as part of a broad $300 million initiative.

The effort includes plans by 2020 for a U.S. workforce at Intel that mirrors the national population. To qualify for the fund, a startup needs to have a founder or at least three executives reporting to a CEO who are female or members of a minority.

Lisa Lambert

"The idea is the larger the diverse footprint in the executive staff, the larger the diversity will be in the employee base," said Lisa Lambert, a 20-year Intel veteran who manages the fund.

Like Intel Capital overall, the fund is focused on startups that are in line with Intel's strategic directions, placing about three-quarters of its investments in existing companies seeking expansion capital.

"We do some early-stage investments, but generally investments are more meaningful if they have some scale, [otherwise] it's like dancing with an elephant," said Lambert. "This isn't a social programme, we expect to invest in high quality companies, and we expect them to do well," she added.

Four companies received the first $16.7 million from the fund including CareCloud, a medical software form, Venafi, a security company and Mark One that is developing a smart cup with Intel's Curie module. "There is a good pipeline with plenty of good women and minorities starting tech companies," said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich.

"We've changed a lot of how we do things here at Intel," said Krzanich. "In our hiring this year so far at all levels we more than doubled the number of diverse [hires] to more than 40 per cent, and we've tied people's pay this year to hiring diverse candidates," he said.

Brit Morin

"There's a lack of female VCs and entrepreneurs, women need mentors and role models," said Brit Morinm, CEO of Brit + Co, one of the four startups to get the first investments from the Intel fund.

"To get girls into STEM, they need to be inspired to be in computer science and want to create hardware," said Morin, a former employee of Apple and Google whose new startup aims to create a community for female makers. "There are problems in every aspect of these [diverse startup] companies," she said.

Only 15 per cent of U.S. venture-funded companies have a woman on the executive team, and only 3 per cent of venture capital goes to companies with a female CEO, according to a Babson College study. Another survey noted only 1 per cent of Silicon Valley venture funds go to companies founded by an African American or Latino.

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