Apr 19, 2022 - Economy

Gold House launches venture fund to back API founders

Illustration of a golden sparkling briefcase.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Dozens of prominent investors, entrepreneurs and cultural figures of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) descent are funding a new venture to back founders of API descent. 

Details: Gold House, a nonprofit collective of API leaders, announced its Gold House Ventures fund on Tuesday, with $30 million from partners across fields.

Why it matters: Founders from API backgrounds continue to face stereotypes when building businesses, fund managers tell Axios.

  • While corporations have for decades pledged to focus on more diverse and inclusive hiring and funding, “Asians are not always included in efforts that target minority populations and underrepresented populations,” Megan Ruan, general partner at Gold House Ventures, says.
  • While pitching and fundraising, API founders are “seen as very strong on the technical side … but less capable on sales, on business, on being the face of the company, on going out and presenting and speaking at a conference,” adds Eric Feng, Gold House Ventures GP and a former GP at Kleiner Perkins. 

Given the unique challenges that early API founders face, Gold House has recruited some of the most successful API entrepreneurs as backers or mentors. Among them:

  • Tony Xu, DoorDash’s CEO and co-founder; Steve Chen, who helped found YouTube; Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao; and brothers Kai and Charles Huang, who founded Guitar Hero.

Unlike traditional funds, Gold House Ventures says it invests alongside other venture capitalists versus competing against them to lead rounds.

  • The entirety of its 2% management fee and 20% carried interest are reinvested back into Gold House Foundation.

What they’re saying: VCs at NEA, Juxtapose, Accel Ventures and Floodgate tell Axios exclusively that Gold House Ventures helps API founders connect on broader goals.

  • “The fact that Gold House's mission is focused on unity, success and representation is also a meaningful bonus, as is the incredible network of influential APIs involved that are at the ready to help out portfolio companies,” Iris Choi, partner at Floodgate, says.
  • More than two dozen firms, including Bain Capital, GGV, Lightspeed and Tribe Capital are investing partners.

The big picture: “We're trying to help ourselves to also help others,” says Bing Chen, president and co-founder of Gold House and a GP of the fund.

  • “When we are in the C-suite and run our own companies, we can diversify boards. And we do think that, when minorities rise, it immediately creates a more visceral bias towards including other minorities.”

Companies to watch: Asian grocery service Umami Cart, South Asian beverage brand One Stripe Chai, custom South Asian clothing company WESTxEAST, Wall Street messaging platform Symphony and mental healthcare software startup Osmind are among the fund's portfolio companies.

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