NFL star Patrick Mahomes and NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace joined the growing list of athletes to invest in a third fund led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
The firm, known as a16z, launched its third Cultural Leadership Fund, or CLF, that has the goal of growing Black wealth through ownership of future technology companies. The fund attracted NBA player Blake Griffin, WNBA stars Nneka Ogwumike and Maya Moore who joined Mahomes and Wallace. In addition, NFL running back Leonard Fournette, musical producer Pharrell Williams, and pop star “The Weeknd” also joined “CFL III.”
CLF’s investment portfolio includes equity stakes in blockchain company Dapper Labs, video game developer Roblox, and publishing platform Substack. A16z said the fund raised over $60 million since 2018.
In a statement sent to Forbes, Wallace called CLF “important work” as its purpose is to enhance “access and equity for Black communities in tech.”
Diversity in the tech sector remains an ongoing issue. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission estimates Black people make up only 7.4% of the tech workforce. White people make up 68.5% among those who participate in tech; Asians represent 14%, and Hispanics make up 7.9%.
Wallace, who became the face of NASCAR’s diversity push, told Forbes that he’s witnessed “how powerful representation can be to inspire and engage future generations.” Wallace added the fund provides “a front row seat to the technology shaping our future, but also to have an impact on increasing Black representation and ownership in tech.”
In 2018, A16z launched the first CLF with investors including Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant; hip-hop stars Sean Combs, Nas, and legendary musical composer Quincy Jones. A16z launched CLF II in June 2021.
The fund targets Black cultural influencers in sports, music, and business, and co-invests in a16z portfolio companies, including a variety of tech startups. Also, a16z said it donated more than $2.5 million in management fees and earnings associated with the CLF to nonprofit organizations with the mission of improving diversity in the tech sector.
A16z says it has more than $33 billion in assets under management. That includes funds with investments in multibillion valuation companies, including crypto platform Coinbase, e-commence company Fanatics, and freight platform Flexport.
In a blog post announcing the third fund, a16z partner Megan Holston-Alexander called CLF III investors “true representations of cultural leadership” who are “excited about technology, curious about the innovation process, and want to play a role in building the future.”