Recently Jay Z made a $1 million investment in a Black owned vegan cookie company. The investment wasn’t simply an act of Mr. Carter writing a million dollar check because he heard a good idea. Rather, the investment came from Carter’s firm, Marcy Venture Partners. Founded in June of 2018, the venture capital fund has positioned Carter as a kingmaker, with the ability to elevate other Black entrepreneurs and profit from a variety of promising startups. The days of rappers aspiring to own gold chains is long gone. Investing is the new flow.
In 2015 Calvin Broadus — aka Snoop Dogg — cofounded Casa Verde Capital to provide seed-stage and Series A funding to “ancillary businesses” in the United States cannabis industry. The firm doesn’t directly invest in companies that actually touch the plant, in other words. The fund raised its first $45 million in capital in 2018 and currently has over a dozen companies in its investment portfolio. Casa Verde’s footprint is growing, also. Today they have investments in companies that are based in Canada, in addition to the US. The cannabis business is big and will only get bigger, in time. Rather than simply rap about getting high, Broadus is positioning himself to take advantage of the windfall profits that will surely come.
Nassir Jones is a legendary rapper but an even bigger legend at the bank. In part, his success stems from being a founding member of QueensBridge Venture Partners (named after his hometown of Queensbridge), a tech venture capital fund. One of his first investments was in a dead brand, “Mass Appeal.” With the help of a six figure investment from Nas, the company was brought back to life and eventually launched a record company that released Nas’ album Nassir in 2018. That early success led to the founding of Queensbridge, which has investments in Dropbox, Ring, Parachute, SeatGeek, General Assembly, Robinhood, Casper, Pillpack and Pluto TV.
It is well known that Black entrepreneurs struggle to access capital. There are many barriers between them and the venture funds they desperately need. Among them is simply being in the room and same space with funders to pitch their ideas. As the color of the venture capitalists change, the hope is that they will be more intentional in seeking out and connecting to Black entrepreneurs. What is undeniable is how the rap game has changed from rapping about fighting for street turf to battling for Silicon Valley and beyond.