Our Motivation and Responsibility
At BITKRAFT, we believe that creating equal opportunity for everyone is not only a major business opportunity and a critical socioeconomic undertaking—but the right thing to do. This is also and especially true for the venture capital industry, whose investment professionals today are 70% white, 82% male, and have historically allocated only 7% of funding to diverse founders. This trend is not reversing—in fact, we are hitting new lows. And while approximately 45% of global gamers are now women, their representation in video games (as well as those of other diverse groups) oftentimes perpetuates existing stereotypes and biases.
Startup funding, resources, and influence as well as inspiring entertainment experiences must not be a privilege of the few. We aspire to a world in which race, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic factors are no longer barriers to self-actualization and prosperity. At the finish line, we envision a truly equitable world, in which we don’t even need to talk about diversity “initiatives” any longer.
But to turn such a truly impartial and fair vision into reality, we also recognize that we have to do our part, and take systematic near-term steps that build towards a longer-term horizon. We recognize that as the most active venture capital investment firm in the gaming industry in 2020 and 2021 to date, according to InvestGame, BITKRAFT has the responsibility to contribute to subverting this narrative starting with our own hiring procedures and our current and future investments. We are committed to doing better and leading the diversity charge in the gaming and interactive media industries.
That’s why today, we share our BITKRAFT Diversity Commitment in an effort to make a contribution that matters—both as a firm and as the people that stand behind it, and with a goal to similarly mobilize the 50+ portfolio companies that we have partnered with to date. Change often comes from those with influence. We have, arguably, some influence—capital, a network, and a brand— and we are excited to put those to work.
Our BITKRAFT Contribution and Accountability
We have a concrete agenda, and we will share it with you here. That’s in part because we want you to hold us and our partners accountable for delivering on what we have set out to do.
In the short term—over the next 12 months—an embrace of diversity must begin with our own firm. Any external initiative can only be effective if we lead by example. Hence, our strongest contribution lies in personnel additions that bring more diversity into our own BITKRAFT Team, our BITKRAFT Advisory Board, and our BITKRAFT Venture Partners. And because, admittedly, diversity has not historically been endemic to our professional networks, going forward, we pledge to embrace the Mansfield Rule in our full-time and part-time hiring processes. This rule typically requires women and other disadvantaged groups to comprise at least 30 percent of candidates considered for leadership, governance roles, and lateral positions. We think a simpler approach would be to apply it to all positions, and that’s exactly what we will do. Multiple major law firms have embraced this policy and seen encouraging results.
In the mid-term—over the next 2 – 3 years—we will implement comparable diversity guidelines for our BITKRAFT internship programs, speaker and panel discussions at our BITKRAFT summits, selection of candidates for BITKRAFT-sponsored events or office hours, as well as our selection of co-investors for our fund investments. We will also put a larger focus on finding outstanding diverse founders. And while we have backed three companies led by women so far (Queens Gaming Collective, Tilt Five, FuzzyBot, and The Story Mob), we recognize that we still have much more work to do.
In the longer term, we will work toward achieving gender balance on our own team and a stronger representation of women in the composition of our portfolio companies; a family of then over 200 companies with diverse representation on their executive teams and boards proportional to the countries in which they operate. Ultimately, we aspire to do our part to create a “new normal” that no longer requires an explicit “diversity strategy.”
Support from Our Portfolio Companies
Our most impactful lever, however, could be our role as an (often leading) investor, thought partner, and sounding board for over 50 portfolio companies as of today—and many more that will become a part of the BITKRAFT family in the future.
That’s why we are also proud to announce that the extraordinary entrepreneurs and startups who signed this commitment—together with us—have established their own principles to work toward internal operations, recruiting practices, and product considerations that promote equality in opportunities across the global gaming, esports, and interactive media ecosystem.
Internal Operations and Recruiting Practices
Our portfolio companies’ organizational commitments include—but are not limited to—the following:
We acknowledge that diversity strengthens teams and creates opportunities for better business results. In order to build more diversity within its organization and in the gaming and media industry, we will be working toward the implementation of the Mansfield Rule, whereby 30% of candidates considered for open positions shall be women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, or individuals with disabilities. We commit to factoring in reaching these goals into executive compensation and commit to sharing progress updates against this objective in our Board and investor updates.
Product Design and Distribution
Another powerful impact that game companies and platforms—and by its extension, venture capital firms in the gaming industry—can pursue is creating and distributing positive content interventions that elevate perceptions of diversity and upend stereotypes perpetuated around minorities. Recent examples from the media industry include Black Panther and Wonder Woman promoting role models from all backgrounds.
We will encourage our portfolio companies, particularly the game studios, to more accurately portray the diversity of our society—and showcase women and people of color in leading character roles. We already see evidence that our companies are embracing such initiatives. If, as a venture capital investment firm, we manage to successfully back and elevate the next Fortnite, Roblox, or Minecraft, we can have a truly global impact. Along these lines, the portfolio companies who signed at the bottom have also committed to the following:
We acknowledge that healthy depictions of women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, or people with disabilities in cultural and entertainment products, and fostering healthy communities and interactions with such persons, can enhance entertainment experiences and have a positive social impact that helps reduce stereotypes and biases. Therefore, we commit to working toward promoting diversity and equality in how we design, distribute, and manage our products and services.
Our Call to Action
We all know that the first opportunity one gets is often the hardest to get and the most valuable. Equally, we all believe in giving opportunities to the best people. After all, this initiative is all about being intentional and proactive to help open the door to talent who may otherwise not have an equitable shot at excelling professionally.
By elevating diversity conversations and guidelines into the way we hire, invest, advise, partner, and operate, we will improve access for underserved groups every time a deal gets done. We invite you to share your thoughts and suggestions with us and to join us in this effort.
The BITKRAFT Team and the BITKRAFT Portfolio Companies