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Melinda Gates Won’t Invest in ‘White Guys with Hoodies’

Interested in funding women and minorities, mogul shows that one demographic is out of luck

As co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — the largest private foundation in the United States, according to the National Philanthropic Trust — Melinda Gates has been driving strategic decisions that have enhanced the lives of millions of people around the globe, through better health care and reduced poverty.

Recently, though, Gates revealed an interesting intent.

She wants to invest in venture firms that focus on women and minorities — while deriding the venture capital (VC) industry for its lack of diversity.

Through Pivotal Ventures, her Seattle-based investment company, Gates is looking to nontraditional funds — which she believes could yield impressive returns.

“I am a big believer in disruptive innovation, but it’s been incredibly disappointing to watch how few women-led businesses are getting funded,” Gates recently told Fortune. “Ultimately, if we want more innovation and better products, we’ve got to put more money behind women and minorities. That wasn’t happening, so I decided to step in and see what I could do to help a little bit.”

These words are what you might expect to hear from left-leaning ideologues or college professors who peddle identity politics — not meritocracy — for a living.

To put it bluntly, Melinda Gates has no interesting in funding “white guys in hoodies,” as she told Fortune.

Instead, “I am specifically looking at funds who overindex on women-led and minority-led businesses. Has this leader done this before? How do they think about business? Where have they done a great job in the past?” said Gates.

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“Or, if they are emerging, why am I willing to take a little bit more risk on that situation? What is it about those fund managers that makes me?” she continued.

Still, her intention to prioritize enterprises led by women and people of color, to the exclusion of others, reads like reverse discrimination to some.

“Gates is saying that venture capitalists — and other social leaders — should be demanding that business partners essentially conform to quotas based on neo-Marxist class distinctions, or Left-defined identity groups: sex, race, income, sexual behavior, ethnicity,” wrote Joy Pullman for The Federalist.

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“Never mind whether the individuals whom Gates lumps into these groups believe their interests align with those of all the others,” added Pullman. “No self-determination allowed here. You are allowed to count precisely as much as identity politics-mongers decide you do, and according to criteria they choose, not you.”

Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage image: Melinda Gates, CC BY 2.0, by DFID – UK Department for International Development; photo credit, article image: Melinda Gates, CC BY-SA 3.0, by Kjetil Ree)

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