Now, as the weather mood-shifts from summer sauna to autumn oven, I’m excited to formalize a program Valor has been running in stealth for the past two years: an annual art commission.
Why art? Why a commission?
It’s like this. As venture capital investors, we live in the art of the future. Each investment we consider, we project the potential of that team to grow as leaders. We plot the arc of the initial product to attract customers. We estimate how fast the market matures into a robust ecosystem.
Most of the venture world is intellectual– prone to spreadsheets. Yet the human mind reaches for tangibility and visibility. How do you shift something powerful from unseen to seen?
One thing that is frustratingly hard to see in our work is the power of inclusion.
A growing body of work from everyone from Credit Suisse to Babcock, Morgan Stanley to McKinsey, documents the business lift when inclusion is practiced well. Some of the academic findings around inclusion are better financial performance, less debt, less volatility in share prices, and happier, more productive teams. This data, and our own lived experience as an inclusive team, are baked into how we invest at Valor. Our team hails from Valdosta, Macon, Marietta, and Atlanta. Our lived experience of inclusion informs our thesis and our practice of building great companies.
We’re blessed Valor operates in the most potent culture in this country, the South. We’re home to the blues and rock’n’roll, Maya Angelou, Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Conner, Natasha Tretheway, Zora Neale Hurston, William Faulkner. Our greats keep coming–Earthgang, Killer Mike, Ludicris, Outkast, and –dating myself with my fave–the Indigo Girls. On a business front, we mint a unicorn company every few weeks–Salesloft, Greenlight, Calendly, OneTrust, and Fullstory are just a few of the recent.
This is now. What’s next?
Since 40% of the U.S. calls the Southeast home, our region is projected to be home to almost half of the great new entrepreneurs in this nation.
We know this. We need the world to know it. And sometimes knowing is not intellectual, it’s visceral. In short, we need to see.
Today, the vision of the venture capital industry doesn’t focus sharply enough on the more innovative, healthy, and sustainable world we can create, together. You can certainly “see” that in the numbers from our industry–
- Women in the Southeast raise 1/3 of the capital men do at the first round. (Not much better nationally–45%.)
- 9 in 10 of our VC investors are white men, in a population where white guys number only one out of three of us.
- Founders of color earn less than 1% of the nation’s venture capital, yet the potency and vibrance of communities of color dominate other industries from athletics to art. Missed business opportunity? Absolutely.
Valor believes the next trillion-dollar market cap companies will come from a dynamic multicultural mix that is the best, highest vision of our country’s future.
In our growing portfolio, we have startups across the Southeast led by women, founders of color, and an entire rainbow of diverse leadership. To celebrate this path, each year we have been commissioning a piece of art as a holiday gift for our partners and investors.
Valor is formalizing an annual commission for Georgia artists to envision inclusion.
We look forward to how today’s bold artists will inspire a richer future with their gifts.