There has been a lot of media buzz in recent months about the makeup of the tech landscape. Many industry observers say there is a serious lack of racial, ethnic and gender diversity among startup founders and other tech executives — essentially, that it’s a field dominated by white men. Now new data indicates that the venture capital industry that funds many of those tech companies is similarly homogeneous.
VC field: white and male, especially at the top
On Monday the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and Dow Jones VentureSource released the results of the 2011 Venture Census survey, which polled nearly 600 individuals in the VC industry. Of the respondents, 87 percent were Caucasian, nine percent were Asian, two percent were African American or Latino, and two percent were of “mixed race.”
Although in a press release the NVCA said the survey indicates “increasing ethnic diversity” in the VC industry, the new figures are largely similar to the findings from the 2008 Venture Census survey, in which 88 percent were Caucasian, eight percent were Asian, two percent were Hispanic and one percent were African American.
In addition, the VC field is mostly male, especially at the higher ranks. Of the total survey respondents, 79 percent were male and 21 percent were female, and in investment roles men outweighed women even more significantly. Of those who identified themselves as investors, 89 percent were male and 11 percent were female. (The Venture Census survey also polls people in administrative, operational, marketing and communication roles.) If anything, the field seems to have lost women in the past few years: In 2008, 86 percent of VC investors were male and 14 percent were female.
A more diverse future?
The good news is that the future of the VC field may be slightly more diverse than it was, as Caucasian males don’t seem to dominate the industry’s younger ranks quite as overwhelmingly. Of venture professionals who have been in the industry fewer than five years, 77 percent were Caucasian, 17 percent were Asian, 3 percent were African American or Latino, and 3 percent were of mixed race. And females were much more prevalent in the field’s younger workers: Of survey respondents under 30 years old, 28 percent were women. Of those in their thirties, 27 percent were women; forties and fifties, 22 percent; and over 60 years old, 13 percent.
Too busy to blog
Another interesting tidbit from the study is how often VCs use the social networking websites in which their industry has enthusiastically invested in recent years. Sixty-two percent of VCs polled use Facebook and just 30 percent use Twitter. LinkedIn is the social network of choice for the VC set, with 85 percent of respondents indicating that they are users of the site.
It is also somewhat surprising how much the majority of VCs seems to stay out of the blogosphere — both as readers and writers. Only 33 percent of survey respondents say they read blogs, and just 11 percent write them. To be fair, perhaps they are just too busy to surf the web: Forty-four percent of survey respondents in investment roles said they work more than 60 hours per week.