Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Jason Calacanis. Photo: Earl Mcgehee/Getty Images

At an Oakland event last Friday, a prominent Silicon Valley investor walked back some controversial comments about bias in tech — and unintentionally offered an inventory of the industry's persistent blind spots on diversity and inclusion.

Why it matters: Many Silicon Valley leaders believe they've created a meritocracy that's working just fine. Progressive critics and people in groups that feel they've been excluded see it as fundamentally broken. It's rare to see these two perspectives face off head to head, civilly, in a public forum.

The background: Jason Calacanis, an angel investor in media and tech whose early bet on Uber paid off big, spent an hour onstage at the Kapor Center, a downtown Oakland nonprofit that aims to "level the playing field in tech" (and that explained the reasoning behind Calacanis's invitation here).

The talk: Calacanis was pitching his Open Book Challenge, which is offering seven $100,000 grants to startups that "want to build a billion-user social network to replace Facebook — while protecting consumer privacy." His appearance certainly got that opportunity in front of the crowd, which contained a lot more entrepreneurs of color than your typical tech industry event.

The real talk: But most of the conversation between Calacanis and Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, a serial entrepreneur who is the founder of Promise, focused on Calacanis's record of provocative comments on Twitter and elsewhere, for which he has faced years of criticism (including a "most offensive tweet of 2014" prize from Vice).

Evolution: Calacanis said that his belief in the tech industry's meritocracy has changed: "Does everybody have an equal shot in Silicon Valley? The answer is no." If a company has "performed" by achieving massive growth, investors won't care who the founders are, he added — but when they're betting on startups that have not already taken off, then biases can kick in.

  • Calacanis said he'd had faith in the tech industry's fairness because he'd seen himself as "an outsider's outsider" growing up working-class in Brooklyn. Later, he said, "I learned that my personal experience of 'I had it hard' is not contextually correct. Others had it harder."

Devolution: Through much of the event, Calacanis embodied the arrogant-tech-dude stereotype he seemed to be trying to transcend:

  • Egotism: ""I'm the greatest!," he announced — "the greatest angel investor currently investing...."
  • Arrogance: "Probably one of my greatest strengths is I don't care what anyone thinks of me."
  • Interrruption: When Calacanis tried to break into a question Ellis-Lamkins was laying out, she had to remind him to let her finish.
  • Deflection: Calacanis likened his situation to that of Joy Reid, the MSNBC host who's been criticized for intolerant decade-old blog posts. Ellis-Lamkins called him out for trying to change the subject from his own missteps to those of a black woman.

Lack of trust: Ellis-Lamkins told Calacanis that his Twitter record made her feel that, as an investor, he wouldn't have her back. "Some of the things you said or tweeted about race and women would make me feel not welcome. I'd think, 'he's not my people.' He can't see me, and when I have issues as a woman of color, he's going to think, 'It's me.' How will people here know that you're on their side?"

No deal: At the end, Calacanis thanked her for "the most interesting interview in my life." Previously in the conversation, he had asked her whether she would take an investment from him, and she'd said no. He asked one more time, but she shook her head.

Correction: This article originally reported incorrectly that Calacanis had said Ellis-Lamkins' company had previously turned down its investment.

Go deeper

Updated 45 mins ago - Economy & Business

The next worker fight: Time off for Juneteenth

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Who gets paid time off to celebrate Juneteenth in the years to come will be uneven and complicated, if history is any guide.

Why it matters: Corporate America hasn't grappled with a new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was authorized almost 40 years ago. How they responded took years to evolve.

45 mins ago - World

UN assembly condemns Myanmar military coup

Protesters make the three-finger salute as they take part in a flash mob demonstration against the military coup. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

The UN General Assembly on Friday condemned Myanmar's military coup and called for an arms embargo against the country, AP reports.

Why it matters: The rare move demonstrates widespread global opposition to Myanmar's military junta, which overthrew the country's democratically elected government and seized power on Feb. 1.

Pakistan PM will "absolutely not" allow CIA to use bases for Afghanistan operations

Pakistan will "absolutely not" allow the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to use bases on its soil for cross-border counterterrorism missions after American forces withdraw from Afghanistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan tells "Axios on HBO" in a wide-ranging interview airing Sunday at 6 pm ET.

Why it matters: The quality of counterterrorism and intelligence capabilities in Afghanistan is a critical question facing the Biden administration as U.S. forces move closer to total withdrawal by Sept. 11.