Big-name tech investors are joining forces to combat racism and hate crimes against Asian-Pacific Islanders in the U.S.
GGV Capital, a firm that has long invested in U.S. and China-based companies, including Airbnb, Didi Chuxing, Square and Xiaomi, put out the call for action in a tweet last week, after a mass shooting in Atlanta left eight people dead, including six Asian women.
Hans Tung, Jeff Richards and Glenn Solomon, partners at GGV, said the firm will match $100,000 in donations to charitable organizations working on the cause. Other venture investors soon joined.
Goodwater Capital co-founders Eric Kim and Chi-Hua Chien, whose firm is known for investments in Musical.ly (TikTok), Weee! and Everlywell, are also matching $100,000 in donations, and so is Lightspeed partner Jeremy Liew, who is behind the firm’s investments in Snap, Affirm and Rothy’s, among others.
“I was first really struggling because it seemed like no one in the tech and VC community was really talking about this openly, it was going by in a fairly silent way,” Kim said. He added that people should take time to reach out to their AAPI colleagues and friends to check-in, see how they’re doing and listen.
“This has been a really difficult set of weeks for many of us, and it has been building up for months and quarters and decades as well,” Kim said.
Partners from General Catalyst, Initialized Capital, Altos Ventures have also agreed to match donations, along with tech execs including Zoom CEO Eric Yuan.
The group has contributed $933,000 in matching donations so far, Goodwater’s Eric Kim told CNBC in an interview Tuesday. They are hoping to hit or exceed $1 million in matching donations inside of one week, and are calling on peers in tech and venture capital to join the cause.
Proceeds will go to organizations including Stop AAPI Hate, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta, GoFundMe’s Support the AAPI Community Fund and Compassion in Oakland.
The support is in response to the mass-shooting in Atlanta, but also the growing number of hate crimes and violence against Asian Pacific Islanders in the U.S.
Stop AAPI Hate recently released a study that identified nearly 3,800 incidents targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders between March 19, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021. Another study showed that anti-Asian hate crimes reported to police in the largest U.S. cities increased 149% last year, while overall hate crime dropped 7%.
“It’s not just people calling us names on the playground anymore. People are getting killed now, people are getting brutally attacked,” Kim said. He pointed toward attacks on a 75-year-old woman and an 83-year-old man that occurred last week in California. Another man had his car set on fire.
“The stories go on and on and on, and some may ask, ‘Are these really racially motivated,'” Kim said. “I think our own experiences and the data speak the truth around this.”
The support of fellow investors is important. According to the National Venture Capital Association’s 2020 “Human Capital Survey,” 78% of investment partners (or people in equivalent roles) at firms in the U.S. were white, and 84% were male.
Asian-Pacific Islanders represented 15% of investment partners or equivalent in the field. But firms like GGV, Goodwater, Initialized and Altos are rare in that their founding partners include Asian-Pacific Islanders.
Kim, who is Korean American, said that in addition to donating and raising money, he is attending all-hands meetings at startups in the Goodwater Capital portfolio. He’s fielding questions about the AAPI experience during the recent surge of attacks and giving advice on how employees can check their own bias, report discrimination if they see it, and support people of color and minority groups at work and beyond.
During his career as a venture investor, Kim made early investments in Coupang, now an $85 billion company, led the first institutional round in Kakao, now a $40 billion public company where he was on the board until it went public, was a lead investor and board director at Toss, a $3 billion payments company, and an early-stage investor in Musical.ly, now known as TikTok.