Black Ops VC is a $35M emerging seed fund exclusively investing in the top Black founders. Partners Heather Hiles, James Norman, and Sean Green bring a wealth of experience and insights to their fund: Heather was founder and CEO of Pathbrite (sold to Cengage) and Imminent Equity, and currently sits on the board of Udemy, Black Girls Code, and Made in Africa (MIA). James, a serial entrepreneur, was founder and CEO of Pilotly and Ubi Video. Sean Green founded Artnernal and ARTLOCAL. Black Ops counts some of the country’s top financial institutions as LPs, including Bank of America, JP Morgan, and Northwestern Mutual, as well as VC leaders such as USV. Other prominent LPs include a16z’s Ben Horowitz and Jess Bussgang of Flybridge Capital Partners, as well as the founders of several tech unicorns, including Oculus, NerdWallet, Dropbox, and Twitch. At first close in December 2021, the team’s initial fund had raised $13 million.
The Black Ops vision is to leverage the team’s own founder journeys to guide the next generation of Black entrepreneurs through the company building process, from securing funding to scaling ventures. According to Crunchbase, just 1% of capital invested in U.S. startups goes to Black entrepreneurs. The Black Ops team works closely with founders to help close this historical funding disparity, with a particular focus on helping founders cross the chasm from seed to Series A. To date, they have reviewed more than 50 opportunities across the U.S., and have made investments alongside leading co-investors such as a16z and Serena Ventures.
Why we invested
The Black Ops investment thesis aligns with Carta’s mission of creating more owners in private companies. With its focus on underrepresented founders who have a unique perspective on the markets they serve, Black Ops will channel VC to entrepreneurs serving populations and geographies that are too often overlooked. The firm’s mission to send more Black entrepreneurs through the seed-to-Series A pipeline is also backed by a strong network: In addition to the team’s decades of combined experience as investors and operators, James is also a partner of Transparent Collective, which helps Black, Latinx, and female founders gain access to resources and network connections in venture capital. We’re excited to partner with Black Ops as they find and accelerate the next generation of Black-led companies.