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Lisa Lambert of Intel Capital on the firm’s new $125 million Diversity Fund


Stashed in: Venture Capital!, Women, Change the Ratio, @brit, Corporate Diversity

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In early June 2015, Intel Capital announced a $125 million fund that will be focused on backing startups run by women and minorities, including African-American, Hispanic-Americans, and Native Americans.

The purpose of the new Diversity Fund is two-fold. First, it’s part of a larger Intel effort to promote more women and minorities in leadership positions in technology. At this year’s CES, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced a $300 million investment to encourage diversity both within the company and in the technology community at large.

Intel Capital has made four investments through the fund already. On Tuesday it announced it has backed Brit Morin’s e-commerce and media platform Brit + Co., in its recently announced $20 million Series A; healthcare cloud services and electronic records company Care Cloud as part of its $15 million Series C; Vessyl “smart cup” maker Mark One; and Salt Lake City cybersecurity company Venafi.

In addition to financial support, all of the companies that are part of the fund are integrating with Intel in some manner.

Intel Capital managing director Lisa Lambert will be managing the new fund. Lambert has been at Intel for close to 20 years, spending the last 15 as part of its investment arm, Intel Capital.

Lisa Lambert has been in venture capital for a long time, most of it with Intel. Here is why she believes now the right time for a fund like this:

I think it goes back to the announcement our CEO made at CES in January. He announced a deliberate and intentful plan to diversify our workforce, and also to impact the industry by engaging the developer community, evaluating how we got to market and develop our products as we diversify our workforce, and making sure we have diverse teams in product development and marketing.

Also, though it wasn’t explicitly stated, part of that equation is impacting the innovation ecosystem. The only way you can do that is engaging either in venture capital or investing. And we are doing both both because we are fortunate enough to have a venture capital arm, and not every company is lucky enough to have that.

The plan is to invest in what we think is representative of the global society. All the data points to more diversity in our country and across the globe. As these communites have more influence and more purchasing power, they should be involved in the development of products that are going to serve the market they represent.

We think it is good business. Designing products and investing in companies that Intel can partner with that serve these communities.

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Our motivation is to build products that represent our customer base, and our our customer base is represented by a lot of ethnic and other backgrounds, and obviously women are also a large part of that.

We want to build the right products that serve the market we invest in. So we are going to invest with the goal of distributing capital, which is a big issue here. There is a big funding gap between what women and minorities can receive from venture capital than what majority groups receive.

Why Diversity Fund invested in Brit + Co:

100 percent of their customer base is female millennials. And if you know anything about female millennials, they’ve got $170 billion in purchasing power in America.

And for Intel, especially as we are trying to appeal to a more diverse base of customers, it’s important to be able to communicate with this audience.

We are going to be doing some native advertising with Brit & Co., targeting this audience, and targeting and positioning technology messages to create brand recognition with this audience.

If you think about decisions being made with the Internet of Things, e-commerce, and even cell phones, they all involved more women then men. And we need to be marketing to them, and engage with how they purchase and how they use technology.

The Brit + Co. investment makes a lot of sense. It’s not the pure tech, hard tech company that you’d expect Intel to invest in, but Intel is branching out.

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