Earlier, we reported here that last week’s Tuesday, Serena Williams took millions of her fans down the emotional path after her sudden announcement of her retirement from professional tennis at age 41 years. In her personal essay published in Vogue, Serena Williams reveals she’s evolving away from tennis to embrace other things that are dear to her.
In the address, the soon to be ex-tenniser notes that no doubt, a career in tennis has given her so much fortune and recognition that she could ever have wished for, but she also wants an equally successful family life, and she thinks it’s about time she made herself available for her loved ones especially her 4-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia, whom she said craves her attention now more than ever.
Other than the family, the Tennis Amazon noted that another important endeavour that will keep her busy in post-retirement is her long-term interest in investment financing. Not a few people may be oblivious of William’s knack for investing in innovative ideas and growing businesses. However, “the 23 times Grand Slam champion has been moonlighting as a venture capitalist for the past several years” said Lakshmi Varanasi in an Insider article.
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Serena ventures, a venture capital firm Serena Williams co-own with Alison Rapaport Stillman has angel invested in over 60 companies across different sectors including financial tech companies like Propel, Esusu and Cointracker; edtech unicorns such Masterclass; and Consumer product start-ups like Billie and Daily Harvest etc.
The following facts about Serena ventures are highlighted by Insider on its website:
- Venture has 20 startups and over 60 Companies covered in diverse value chains
- 53 percent of the firm’s current portfolio companies are founded by women
- Around 70 percent of the firm’s investment are founded from historically underrepresented backgrounds including 47 percent of investments that have black founders and 12 percent that have Latino founders.
In January, the firm participated in a $7million Series A round raised by Chatdesk, customer support messaging platform, founded by African American entrepreneurs, Andrew Olaleye and Ancton Okonkwo. In March, the ventures served as the lead investor in a $2.1million seed round raised by Calico, an e-commerce enabler company founded by Kathleen Chan. Also in March the ventures reported on its website that it raised an inaugural fund of $111million from banks and high networth individuals and families to be invested in founders with diverse problems to solve.
Williams recalled in her essay that she developed her interest in VC investment after she got inspired by Caryn Sendman-Becker, CEO of Clear, a security company. She had attended a conference organized by JP Morgan Chase and Caryn happened to be one of the speakers at the event.
While speaking, Caryn mentioned that less than 2 percent of all venture capital money was invested in women and that was enough to jolt Williams up to do something about the existing gap. ” I kind of understood then and there that someone like me needed to start writing the big cheques” Williams said.
Stillman was reported to have said to Insider via email, “an integral part of Serena ventures’ mission is to back founders who have incredible potentials that might be overlooked by other investors and connect them with the core ingredients of opportunity; capital mentorship and supports”.