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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Venture capital is not the primary cause of, nor primary solution to, America's racial inequities. But as a major driver of wealth and opportunity, it does exacerbate them.

How it works: Black men are woefully underrepresented within VC firms at just 2%, based on the most recent data. Black women don't even rank a percentage point.

  • Only 1% of VC-backed founders between 2013 and 2018 were black.
  • Historically black college and university endowments are rarely limited partners in VC funds.

The big question: How can this change?

The past week does seem to have shaken many in the VC community. Or maybe slapped them in the face.

  • There have been the obligatory tweets of solidarity.
  • There have been large, personal donations made to organizations focused on racial justice. This includes more than $200,000 now pledged to the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund for our Peloton ride this Saturday (full details on that tomorrow).
  • SoftBank today announced a $100 million fund, backed by its balance sheet, "to invest in companies led by founders and entrepreneurs of color."

It's all important. Laudable. Could help begin to reduce economic inequality in the short and long terms. But, moving forward, there's another thing to do that doesn't cost anything but time.

What's next: On Thursday at 3pm ET, a group called BLCK VC is hosting a virtual event called "We Won't Wait." It will begin with a moment of silence, and then feature a group of black investors and founders sharing personal stories of their challenges within tech, stories of racism within the industry, and what they're feeling at the current moment.

  • The goal, in the words of Storm Ventures' Frederik Groce, is to "jump-start internal conversations."
  • Every good investor, and journalist, knows that their job is more about listening than talking. And that understanding can lead to action, such as expanding employment and investment opportunities in a structural way that persists once this moment has passed.

Go deeper

SoftBank posts $12 billion in quarterly profits

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Yoshikazu Tsuno/Getty Images

SoftBank and its Vision Fund made a comeback this past quarter. But chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son has already moved on to a new project: a $550 million vehicle for investing in blue-chip public tech stocks like Facebook, Amazon and Apple.

Why it matters: This is part of Son’s ongoing plan to transform SoftBank Group into an investment company.

50 seconds ago - World

Scoop: Ukraine tells senators post-invasion sanctions are no help

Zelensky. Photo: Johanna Geron/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told U.S. senators visiting Kyiv this week that waiting to impose sanctions on Russia until after an invasion is of no use to Ukraine, according to four sources familiar with the discussions.

Why it matters: The Senate is currently working on a major sanctions package to deter Russia from attacking Ukraine. Democrats and Republicans are united in their support for Ukraine, but divided over whether it would be more effective to sanction Russia now to signal resolve, or hold up the threat of future sanctions to demonstrate the high costs of an invasion.

Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks has dropped plans to require that U.S. workers get the COVID vaccine or submit to weekly testing, the company announced Tuesday in a memo to employees.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.