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Investors in Airbnb, TikTok and Snap Join Forces to Fight Anti-Asian Hate

Erin Scott | Reuters
  • Venture capitalists are joining forces and calling on peers to match around $1 million in donations to groups fighting anti-Asian hate.
  • Their drive comes after anti-Asian violence and hate crimes surged by nearly 150% in America’s largest cities last year.
  • GGV Capital put out the call for action, and partners from other venture capital firms agreed to match donations.

Big-name tech investors are joining forces to combat racism and hate crimes against Asian-Pacific Islanders in the U.S.

GGV Capital — a firm that has long invested in U.S. and China-based companies such as Airbnb, Didi Chuxing, Square and Xiaomi — put out the call for action last week in a tweet after a mass shooting in Atlanta left eight people dead, including six Asian women.

GGV partners Hans Tung, Jeff Richards and Glenn Solomon said the firm will match up to $100,000 in donations to charitable organizations working on the cause. Other venture investors soon joined.

Goodwater Capital co-founders Eric Kim and Chi-Hua Chien — whose firm is known for investments in Musical.ly, Weee and Everlywell — are also matching up to $100,000 in donations along with Lightspeed partner Jeremy Liew. Liew's firm has invested in Snap, Affirm and Rothy's, among others.

"I was first really struggling because it seemed like no one in the tech and VC community was really talking about this openly, it was going by in a fairly silent way," Kim said. He said people should reach out to their AAPI colleagues and friends to see how they're doing.

"This has been a really difficult set of weeks for many of us, and it has been building up for months and quarters and decades as well," Kim said.

Partners from General Catalyst, Initialized Capital, Altos Ventures also agreed to match donations along with tech execs such as Zoom CEO Eric Yuan.

The group has contributed $933,000 in matching donations, Goodwater's Kim told CNBC on Tuesday. They are hoping to hit or exceed $1 million in matching donations within one week. They are also calling on peers in tech and venture capital to join the cause.

Proceeds will go to organizations including Stop AAPI Hate, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta, GoFundMe's Support the AAPI Community Fund and Compassion in Oakland.

The support is in response to the mass-shooting in Atlanta and to the growing number of hate crimes and violence against Asian Pacific Islanders in the U.S.

Stop AAPI Hate recently released a study that identified nearly 3,800 incidents targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders between March 19, 2020, and Feb. 28. Another study showed anti-Asian hate crimes reported to police in the largest U.S. cities increased by 149% last year, while overall hate crimes dropped 7%.

"It's not just people calling us names on the playground anymore. People are getting killed now, people are getting brutally attacked," Kim said. He pointed toward the attacks on a 75-year-old woman and an 83-year-old man last week in California. Another man's car was set on fire.

"The stories go on and on and on, and some may ask, 'Are these really racially motivated,'" Kim said. "I think our own experiences and the data speak the truth around this."

The support of fellow investors is important. Nearly 80% of investment partners — or people in equivalent roles — at firms in the U.S. were white and 84% were male, according to the National Venture Capital Association's 2020 "Human Capital Survey."

Asian-Pacific Islanders represented 15% of investment partners or equivalent in the field. But firms like GGV, Goodwater, Initialized and Altos are rare in that their founding partners include Asian-Pacific Islanders.

Kim, who is Korean American, said he is attending all-hands meetings at start-ups in the Goodwater portfolio in addition to donating and raising money. He is fielding questions about the AAPI experience during the recent surge of attacks and giving advice on how employees can check their own bias, report discrimination if they see it and support people of color and minority groups at work and beyond.

Kim made early investments in Coupang and Musical.ly (which is now TikTok), led the first institutional round in Kakao, was a lead investor and board director at payments company Toss. Coupang and Kakao are now worth $85 billion and $40 billion, respectively. Toss is valued at $3 billion.

Programming note: CNBC's "Race & Opportunity in America: The Asian-American Experience" will air at 8 p.m. ET on Wed., March 31. 

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