Former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous Joins Silicon Valley Venture Capital Firm
Many were shocked when Benjamin Jealous announced he was stepping down as head of the NAACP. The youngest president ever to lead the historic civil right organization, Jealous made many radical and successful changes at the NAACP.
But now even many more are shocked by Jealous’ new career move. Jealous has become a venture capitalist.
But Jealous isn’t leaving his activist roots too far behind. He plans on using his role as a venture capitalist to create opportunities for blacks and Latinos in the tech sector.
According to an annual Silicon Valley Index, blacks and Latinos earn about half as much as whites and Asians in the tech arena. And in the past two years, income dropped five percent for blacks and two percent for Latinos in the industry. On top of this, only four percent of the country’s 1.1 million software developers are black, and five percent are Latino, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“My life’s mission has been leveling the playing field and closing gaps in opportunity and success,” Jealous, 41, told The Associated Press. “I’m excited about trying a different approach.”
“The Northern California native and self-confessed computer geek will be joining entrepreneurs Mitchell Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein at their venture capital investment firm that backs information technology start-ups committed to making a positive social impact,” reports CNBC. Kapor Capital is the venture capital investment arm of the Kapor Center for Social Impact.
According to Jealous, he and his family will remain in Silver Spring, Md., but he’ll travel to the West Coast monthly.
It is rumored that his new pay will be about equal to what he earned at the at the NAACP—$285,000 in 2011, according to tax documents.
Initially, when he resigned from the NAACP in 2013, Jealous said he planned to teach at a university and spend time with his family. The offer Kapor Capital, Jealous says, was too tempting to turn down.
“Silicon Valley holds itself up as a meritocracy, but it’s actually embarrassingly un-diverse,” said Freada Kapor Klein. “We expect Ben is going to help us change that.”
The company’s portfolio has 46 percent of its investments in firms with founders who are women and people of color from an underrepresented background.