By Rick Moss | Better Ventures: Each month, Better Ventures convenes top leaders in impact investing and entrepreneurship for a fireside chat, networking, and workshops geared towards early-stage companies. We held a PreSeed fireside chat with powerhouse social impact investor Nancy Pfund on October 29. The house was packed and Nancy delivered the goods.
Nancy is without a doubt one of the leading impact investors of our day, with blockbuster successes including Tesla, Solar City, Pandora, Revolution Foods and more. And she’s an inspiration to entrepreneurs and investors alike, demonstrating every day that you can make money and do good on a very large scale.
It was a wide-ranging conversation covering her background, her portfolio, Oakland, gender and diversity in the technology industry, and where she’s focusing the firm’s new $400 million venture fund. Here are some of our favorite moments:
“We emphatically reject the notion that there is any kind of sacrifice on financial return by paying attention to social return as well. I know people disagree with that, but we’ve been doing this for 12 years and we have proof. There is no sacrifice and, in fact, we take a step further: we think that investing for social impact makes you a better investor and that these companies can have better returns.” (30:16)
Diversity in Tech
“What’s so healthy today is that people are talking about the problem. When I was growing up in those companies [like Intel and Hambrecht & Quist] you never even talked about [diversity]. And while I was able to build a career that I loved, it wasn’t possible at the levels it should been for women and minorities. So the first step to tackling a problem is to speak out, get people more sensitized, and then the networks that are being established are just really working. We see more women entrepreneurs today than we ever have. And part of that is whenever you have a more diverse fund manager, you’re going to see a more diverse set of entrepreneurs.” (40:27)
“I’m not an urban planner, but it is important to keep track of where populations are in a city and I know that you can do set-asides in terms of new housing that protect certain communities as you’re improving them. And I so hope that’s what we’ll be doing as Oakland grows: balance the special-ness and the history of the folks who have lived here with the opportunity to increase the quality of life for everybody.” (38:18)
To watch the video, visit Better Ventures.