Y Combinator Steps Up Efforts to Recruit Black Entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley

Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, is leading an effort to recruit more black entrepreneurs. (Richard Morgenstein)
Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, is leading an effort to recruit more black entrepreneurs. (Richard Morgenstein)

Y Combinator is launching a recruiting drive to get more black entrepreneurs into Silicon Valley’s No. 1 boot camp for start-ups.

Less than 1% of entrepreneurs who apply to Y Combinator are black. In the most recent batch of start-ups, three of the founders were black.

Y Combinator is committed to increasing those numbers, Y Combinator’s president Sam Altman said in an interview with USA Today.

It’s adding black colleges to its recruiting swing this fall, as well as reaching out to groups with strong ties to the black community to increase the pool of applicants, Altman said.

“If we were to limit ourselves to founders of one group, we would miss out on a lot of great companies,” Altman said. “We are making it known that we want to do more on this.”

The push comes as Silicon Valley wrestles with chronic underrepresentation of blacks, Hispanics and women.

Major companies in Silicon Valley have released demographics showing their ranks are overwhelmingly white, Asian and male.

The high-tech industry is missing out on promising entrepreneurs and companies because it has a “blind spot,” Altman said.

And that blind spot makes it especially tough for black entrepreneurs to succeed here, he said.

“Whether real or perceived, and I personally think it’s real, there is a belief among these founders that they get taken less seriously and that makes it harder to get funding, press, customers, you name it,” he said. “If you feel like the world wants a 22-year-old white man and you are not that, of course it negatively affects you.”

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SOURCE: USA Today
Jessica Guynn

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