At the beginning of the year, the impacts and implications of COVID-19 radiated across the globe, and the so-called “return to normal” that many expected by summer seems less and less likely as the outbreak rages on. As a result, the Pride Month parades, parties and festivities we’ve grown accustomed to over the last 51 years simply did not happen.
Equally pressing are the worldwide protests and demonstrations against systemic racism in policing and the disproportionate killings of Black people. As many have pointed out, Pride can’t be acknowledged devoid of its history—the LGBTQ+ rights movement began in 1969 when transgender and queer women of color fought on the frontlines against police raids at the Stonewall Inn in New York City.
Pride is and always has been a protest. LGBTQ+ people have had an unmeasured impact on the world at large, and the same is true within our industry—the public and private capital markets. To that end, we want to highlight some of the achievements of LGBTQ+ founders, venture capitalists, technologists and innovators—all trailblazers who created space for themselves and others in an industry that largely lacks diverse voices. This list is not exhaustive, and we encourage you to add to the conversation.
We’re including links to each person’s Twitter page where possible. Additionally, we’ve linked to PitchBook profile previews of the companies and firms these pros are associated with to give you a sense of the types of funding details (and other datasets) available throughout the platform.
LGBTQ+ founders and entrepreneurs
Activist and cofounder of Black Lives Matter, a globally recognized organizing project that focuses on combating anti-Black state-sanctioned violence and the oppression of all Black people.
Founder and CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises, a co-learning and co-working community with a focus on economically empowering trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer people and allies with practical, career-ready skills.
Hoffman, alongside Patricia Santos, cofounded Volition Beauty in 2016, an online platform of beauty lovers, who can share and vote on ideas they’d like to see come to fruition.
Founder and Executive Producer of Radimo, a gender-fluid brand house and consulting agency focused on increased representation for marginalized individuals in media, entertainment and advertising.
Trapani, an engineer, entrepreneur and writer, is currently a managing partner at Postlight. She is perhaps best known for founding Lifehacker, a blockbuster tech blog acquired by Univision.
In 2018, Giancarlo and Laura Kraber launched Fluide Beauty, a queer, cruelty-free cosmetics brand for people of all gender identities, fighting against the norms of marketing makeup to women only.
Cofounder of Grindr, a social networking app for gay, bisexual, trans and queer people. The company, which was a subsidiary of Beijing Kunlun Tech, was acquired in March 2020 by San Vicente Acquisition for $620 million.
Cofounder and executive editor of Recode, which was acquired by Vox Media in 2015. Swisher is also host of the Recode Decode podcast and co-executive producer of the Code Conference.
Founder and CEO of Lesbians Who Tech, which offers programming and opportunities to give visibility and opportunity to LGBTQ+ women, non-binary and trans individuals in the tech sector.
Martine Rothblatt Ph.D
In the '90s, Rothblatt cofounded Sirius XM Satellite Radio. She is also cofounder and CEO of biotech company United Therapeutics. Her latest venture is Lung Biotechnology, which works to democratize the treatment of lung diseases.
Founder of Mendi, a CBD-based health brand for sports recovery. The company offers gummies, salve sticks, massage oils and creams. Rachael’s products are endorsed by her twin sister and world-renowned athlete Megan Rapinoe. @themendico
Theoretical neuroscientist and serial entrepreneur, Ming cofounded Socos Labs, an independent think tank experimenting with new versions of work, education and inclusive economies to inform more human-centered policy.
LGBTQ+ VCs turned entrepreneurs (and vice versa)
About Backstage Capital
In 2015, Arlan Hamilton founded Backstage Capital and built it from the ground up while homeless. The venture capital firm is based in Los Angeles, California and invests in startups whose founders identify as women, People of Color or LGBTQ+.
Since its inception, Backstage Capital has invested over $7 million in more than 130 companies led by underrepresented founders.
Cofounder of StartOut, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit promoting equality and combatting discrimination in business. Alongside Kuda Biza, he cofounded Nunbelievable, an organic baked goods brand to help end hunger.
Cofounder of StartOut, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit promoting equality and combatting discrimination in business. He also cofounded Family by Design, a community for modern co-parenting.
Founded in 2009, StartOut is an accelerator with the mission to increase the number, diversity, and impact of LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and amplify their stories to drive the economic empowerment of the community.
In February 2020, with the support of JP Morgan Chase & Co., the firm released The StartOut Pride Economic Impact Index, a groundbreaking research initiative that measures the contributions LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs make to the larger economy and calculates the unrealized potential.
See StartOut’s investments
Rabois currently serves as a General Partner at Founders Fund. In his venture career, he has led investments in DoorDash, Affirm, Stripe and more. He also cofounded Opendoor, a platform for buying and selling homes.
Pritzker is an angel investor, philanthropist and founder of private-wealth firm TAWANI Enterprises. She is considered the world's first and only known transgender billionaire.
About SoGal Ventures
Cofounded by Pocket Sun and Elizabeth Galbut, SoGal ventures is the first female-led, next generation venture capital firm. It focuses on early-stage diverse founding teams in the US and Asia, and aims to be the strongest ally for its portfolio companies. The firm has made investments in 65+ startups across the world, including Everlywell and SWAAY.
See SoGal Ventures’ investments
Note: All images were sourced from LinkedIn and Google. PitchBook does not own the rights to any of the images used in this post. If you'd like to have a photo removed, please contact us and we'd be happy to do so.