Marcelo Claure, Paul Judge, funding, fund, Open Opportunity Fund, entrepreneurs

Black And Latino Business Leaders Acquire $100 Million Open Opportunity Fund For Tech Entrepreneurs Of Color

In 2022, Black and Latino founders reportedly captured under 3% of venture capital funding.

In a major new development, two highly regarded Black and Latino businessmen have acquired a $100 million fund intended to offer new financing to tech entrepreneurs of color.

The Open Opportunity Fund (OOF) has been purchased for an undisclosed amount by Atlanta-based investor and entrepreneur Paul Judge and Marcelo Claure, a Bolivian entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Claure Group, from the Japanese conglomerate, SoftBank Group.  The transaction means the fund will now be 100% Black-and Latino-owned.

In an exclusive report for BLACK ENTERPRISE, Judge and Claure provided email commentary on the acquisition.

Judge stated, “Open Opportunity Fund becoming Black- and Latino-owned is a significant milestone. It reflects our commitment to diversity and inclusion, not just in our investments but also in our own structure. The most important part is that the ownership and leadership now fully reflect the diversity of the companies that we are investing in.”

Judge explained Open Opportunity Fund 1 was a $100 million fund.  The new fund, Fund 2,  aims to raise $200 million. Twice the size of Fund 1, the fresh fund will allow 50 new investments in Black- and Latino-founded tech companies. It will support more Black- and Latino-led startups, helping bridge the existing funding gap in the communities.

Judge specified Fund 1 is fully deployed. It invested $100 million in 75 Black- and Latino-founded firms. It was reported that seven of those companies exited the fund after being acquired by other companies or investors, as well as going public.

Claure said some 80% of the companies that have been invested in are building B2B software solutions. Their areas of interest include fintech, health tech, EdTech, sales/marketing tech, enterprise IT. He said the portfolio companies have raised a combined total of over $4 billion.

The fund will be led by Claure as the vice chairman and general partner, and Judge as the chairman and managing partner. Their combined leadership and expertise will drive the fund’s vision and strategy forward.

Claure Group is a multi-billion-dollar global investment firm. Marcelo Claure was previously CEO of Sprint and SoftBank Group International. Judge wears several hats, including being known as an CEO, investor, business tycoon, and technology entrepreneur helping Black Americans emerge and grow in that industry.

The new fund will be open to limited partners and investors. Claure stated, “We invite corporations, endowments, institutional investors, and other qualified individuals like executives and celebrities to join forces with us. We value partners who understand the importance of supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs and who are committed to fostering inclusive growth in the technology ecosystem.”

Judge described Claure, who initially conceptualized and launched Fund 1 in 2020, returning to help oversee the new fund as a major development. “His return brings his extensive experience and network for capital raising. Also, Marcelo brings a wealth of experience and a vast network that can help our portfolio companies. Marcelo’s extensive network of Latino entrepreneurs significantly enriches our deal flow within this vibrant community.”

The backing comes as Black and Latino founders in 2022 captured under 3% of venture capital funding, in spite of making up over 30% of the U.S. population. Research has regularly shown that diverse companies yield greater results, like producing higher profits and exit multiples.

According to Claure, OOF will help those founders grow.

“As a Bolivian immigrant and a Black American, we see these opportunities from a distinct perspective based on firsthand experience with the difficulty Black and Latino founders face when raising capital. Our combined experience has revealed the dire need for tangible change in the investment world and we are committed to continuing to deliver top returns by investing in diverse tech companies,” Claure said.

Judge also stressed the OOF extends its support to companies beyond mere capital infusion, by offering a comprehensive suite of resources crucial for startup growth. This includes personalized mentorship and strategic guidance from experienced industry leaders, access to an extensive network of industry professionals and potential partners, and invaluable market insights for effective strategy development.

He added the fund aids in crucial aspects like talent acquisition, team building, operational support, and scaling strategies. “Through this holistic approach, the fund not only invests financially in startups, but also invests in their overall success and long-term viability, with a particular focus on uplifting underrepresented entrepreneurs in the tech industry.”

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