Is Debra Lee Considering Launching A Tech Fund to Back Women of Color?
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Is Debra Lee Considering Launching A Tech Fund to Back Women of Color?

Debra Lee
Debra Lee (Photo credit: Sharon Suh)

Debra Lee, the former CEO of BET, recently hinted at the idea of starting a black women tech fund at the Upfront Summit in Pasadena, CA, according to Yahoo! Finance.

Lee was first asked by reporter Julia Boorstin about California’s mandate that boards of directors overseeing public companies include women; a law that passed in late 2018 that is being considered in numerous other states. Boorstin then asked about Goldman Sachs’s announcement from Davos that beginning in July, it won’t take public any company that doesn’t have at least one “diverse” board member, with a particular focus on women.

The initiative would have cost Goldman up to $101 million in underwriting fees from as many as 18 U.S. IPOs had the policy been effective in 2019, according to a new analysis by Bloomberg Law. That’s an estimated one-third of the $318.68 million that Goldman earned in advisory fees from the 59 U.S. IPOs it underwrote last year.

“I mean, we’ve been talking about this for so long that I understand why they did it,” Lee answered. “I think both initiatives are a good thing, because the companies aren’t going to do it. We’ve been talking about it for 30 years, and for a company to have a board now with no women or no people of color, they should be truly embarrassed. But there’s still a lot out there . . . it’s sad to see that we have to implement either, you know–California, Goldman–but we really have to hold these companies’ feet to the fire.”

The former BET chairman also hinted that she and others of her powerful friends are talking about creating a fund that would support women of color in tech.  Boorstin then took the opportunity to joke around with Lee. “So if you do create a fund, perhaps there’s some potential LPs [you could talk with here].”

“I would love that,” said Lee. “If you all know of anyone…”


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