Base 10 Partners, a San Francisco venture capital firm co-founded and managed by Nigeria-born Adeyemi “Ade” Ajao, has raised more than $137 million.
It’s the largest raise ever for a Black-led VC firm, Tech Crunch reported — a Silicon Valley first and a sign of growing efforts to back more minority investors and entrepreneurs.
Base10 doesn’t have a diversity thesis per se, but Ajao said that he plans to draw on his unique worldview to identify the next wave of unicorns that other VCs are missing.
The VC firm plans to invest in startups that develop artificial intelligence and automation for industries in “the real economy” such as construction and transportation.
Ajao grew up in Nigeria and Spain, and has spent 10 years in San Francisco. He built his first startup in Southern Spain — a social app called Tuenti that was bought by Telefónica. He attended Stanford University and started another venture that was sold to business software company Workday, Financial Times reported.
Racial inequality and being Black in America presented a new social dynamic that was absent in his international upbringing, Ajao told Tech Crunch.
About 13 percent of the U.S. population identifies as Black, and 16 percent as Hispanic, but just 4 percent of U.S. startup investors are Black or Hispanic. Outsiders have a hard getting access to venture capital for many reasons. Of 1,500 VCs polled, 40 percent had attended either Harvard or Stanford universities, according to a study by Richard Kerby, a partner at the firm Equal Ventures.
Base10 plans to invest in global companies that are fixing problems affecting 99 percent of the world, not the Silicon Valley 1 percent, Ajao said.
Writing seed and Series A checks between $500,000 and $5 million, Base10 has completed 10 investments so far. These include birth control delivery startup The Pill Club, on-demand staffing company Wonolo, TokenSoft, a platform for compliant token sales and Brazilian mobility startups Grin and Yellow, which recently closed a $63 million Series A.