The Cultural Leadership Fund
The Cultural Leadership Fund (CLF) at a16z was founded to address gaps in access and equity for African Americans in technology. CLF provides an opportunity to contribute to two major shifts: more Black dollars on the cap tables of the world’s best companies AND Black talent embedded into technology companies at the earliest stages. We believe these shifts can have a meaningful impact on building generational wealth for Black communities.
We do this in the following ways:
- Our fund: The Cultural Leadership Fund is the first venture capital fund consisting exclusively of Black cultural leaders and organizations committed to Black wealth generation. CLF coinvests in a16z portfolio companies.
- Our network: Beyond the LPs in our fund, we’ve built a broad network of leaders in music, sports, entertainment, art, and business. We facilitate thoughtful introductions with a16z portfolio companies, often leading to mutually beneficial opportunities as companies look to scale and grow.
- Our talent: All of a16z’s management fees and carry generated from our funds are donated to nonprofit organizations that work to actively engage and advance more African Americans into technology roles. We also continue to grow and nurture the CLF Talent Network which connects Black professional talent with opportunities in the technology industry.
How we got here?
In the early days of the technology industry, there was no thought about consumers, because consumers were not our customers. The first computer was sold to the United States government and in general we sold technology to technologists trying to build solutions to difficult problems. Tom Watson, the founder of IBM, famously said in 1943 that the worldwide market for computers was 5. While that seems impossible in retrospect, at the time computers were exceptionally expensive, hard to use, and difficult to sell. Logically, this meant that the industry built technology for people in priority order of how much money they had—first to governments, then to big business, then to small business and almost never to consumers. One could see this in popular culture as James Bond had all kinds of cool technology gadgets that consumers could only dream about.
This changed slightly with the advent of the PC, but the consumer market was still relatively small compared to the government and business markets. Once the Internet and then the smartphone hit the scene, the economics reversed themselves: technology became cheap, easy to use, and often free to distribute. As a result, new technologies now go to markets in priority of their size—first to consumers then to small businesses then to big businesses and finally to governments. And now James Bond just uses a smartphone.
As a result, consumer behavior—in other words, culture—has become central to successfully building, marketing, and selling new technologies.
In the meantime, one group of people has been responsible for more cultural influence than any other and perhaps all other groups combined. African Americans invented all modern forms of music from jazz to blues to rock and roll to hip hop. In the United States, most fashion, dance, and language innovation has come from this relatively small community. This is especially significant, because worldwide no culture influenced consumer behavior more than U.S. culture.
As African American communities embraced new technology platforms, they directly influenced the growth and success of these platforms, yet were afforded no early equity participation, failing to capture upside from their involvement.
The Cultural Leadership Fund is helping to change this, connecting the world’s greatest creators and shifters of culture with the best new technology companies and enabling more African Americans to enter the technology industry.
Join the CLF Network
The CLF Network connects Black professionals to people and early-stage companies in tech. By joining the network, you'll have access to events, build meaningful relationships, and hear about open roles in our portfolio. You can sign-up for our newsletter, too.
Any investments or portfolio companies mentioned, referred to, or described on this page are not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by a16z and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results. Exits include current and former a16z portfolio companies which have been acquired as well as companies which have undergone an initial public offering or direct public offering of shares. Certain publicly traded companies on this list may still be held in Andreessen Horowitz funds. A list of investments made by funds managed by a16z is available here: https://a16z.com/investments/. Excluded from this list are investments for which the issuer has not provided permission for a16z to disclose publicly as well as unannounced investments in publicly traded digital assets. Further, the list of investments is updated monthly and as such may not reflect most recent a16z investments. Past results of Andreessen Horowitz’s investments, pooled investment vehicles, or investment strategies are not necessarily indicative of future results.