Serena Williams Does It Again: The Tennis Star Just Raised $111M For Her Venture Fund
Serena Williams’s early-stage venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, has raised an inaugural fund of $111 million that will invest in founders with diverse points of view. The achievement comes nine years after she first started the project and has taken on a portfolio of more than 60 angel investments.
The investments were all backed by the athlete’s own money. For those who aren’t aware – an angel investor is an individual who uses their own funds to support a start-up company or project.
“As an angel investor, you can only do so much,” she told Black Enterprise in an exclusive interview. “I knew that I wanted to do a fund, but I worked backward, by using my own capital and then creating a track record and getting to know everyone.”
Now, with funding from limited partners including Norwest, CapitalG, Kapor Foundation, and LionTree, among others, Serena Ventures will be able to take its investments to the next level.
The company has since invested in fintechs Propel, Cointracker and edtech Masterclass, among others. It manages a portfolio of over 60 angel investments, thirteen of which are unicorns, according to the comanie’s blog.
But Serena’s journey has been a learning curve and as she learned more about the world of funding, Williams was shocked by the inequities.
“I was at a conference and Caryn Seidman-Becker, the founder of CLEAR, was on stage and she said less than 2% of all VC money goes to women. I couldn’t wrap my mind around basically almost 100% of money is going to the men,” she told Black Enterprise.
Alison Rapaport, who has previously worked at J.P. Morgan, Wasserman, and Melo7Tech Ventures, leads Serena Ventures along with Williams.
“I have been so impressed with Serena Ventures and the extraordinary mentorship and support they provide entrepreneurs. Serena has built an exceptional team of diverse experts with branding expertise and strategic advice to help founders as they navigate building their companies.
“With unique backgrounds and experiences, Serena Ventures brings an incredible network — a network of which I am honored to be a part of. I am excited to support their growth,” said Anne Wojcicki, CEO & Co-Founder of 23andMe and a limited partner in Serena Ventures.