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TheBoardlist will match companies with all people of color seeking board seats, too

As tech companies scramble to improve diversity, the platform that previously sought female board candidates is now trying to close the racial gap on boards, too.

TheBoardlist will match companies with all people of color seeking board seats, too

TheBoardlist's founder and chair Sukhinder Singh Cassidy said the shift is a direct response to a spike in demand for board members of color.

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

As corporations across the country commit to diversifying their ranks, theBoardlist, which helps companies find female board members, is committing to diversify its repository of talent too.

The company is now opening its online platform to all people of color, regardless of gender, hoping to help businesses address racial inequities on their boards of directors. The shift, says founder and chair Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, is a direct response to the calls for racial justice that have followed the killing of George Floyd by police. But it's also a response to what Singh Cassidy said has been a surge in demand from companies seeking more representation of people of color on their boards recently. In the last two months, 90% of searches on the Boardlist have been for women of color.

"I think it's very fair to say the events of the last six, and even three, months have driven the issue of racial inequity and racial diversity, its opposite, to the forefront," Singh Cassidy said.

TheBoardlist initially set out to correct the gender imbalance on boards in corporate America, where white men hold about 66% of seats and 91% of chairmanships on the Fortune 500. Data on the tech industry specifically is harder to come by, but one 2019 survey of tech startups found that 40 percent of respondents had no women on their boards.

In recent years, there's been a surge in legislation requiring boards to include at least one female director. California passed a law to that effect in 2018, and several other states have since introduced similar bills. But the racial imbalance on boards is even more stark, with people of color of all genders holding only about 16% of board seats on the Fortune 500.

And yet, there are signs that this moment in history is poised to change that. In a July survey of 100 board executives conducted by theBoardlist, 74% of respondents said they believed that it should be mandatory for boards to be inclusive of people of color. Some are staking their own board seats on that belief. In June, shortly after protests began in the wake of Floyd's death Reddit co-founder and CEO Alexis Ohanian stepped down from the company's board, asking to be replaced by a Black candidate.

"I'm saying this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: 'What did you do?'" Ohanian, who is married to tennis champion Serena Williams, wrote in a tweet. Days later, Reddit announced Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel as Ohanian's replacement.

TheBoardlist operates through a network of individual endorsers, CEOs and board members who recommend potential candidates. It doesn't require those people to report the candidates' race, so theBoardlists' data on its own current pipeline of talent is limited. But Singh Cassidy said she estimates about 20% of its candidates are currently people of color.

Now, she expects that figure to grow as the network opens up to all people of color and as theBoardlist itself seeks out partnerships with organizations that will have a more diverse network of talent to recommend. She said the goal is to grow the supply of talent to a point where "no one can argue there aren't enough great candidates."

Protocol | Policy

Senate infrastructure bill: Who’s winning and losing in tech?

The $1 trillion bill covers everything from cyber to electric vehicles. But who's best positioned to seize the opportunity?

The $1 trillion infrastructure bill includes $550 billion in new spending.

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

There's a little something — and in some cases, a lotta something — for everyone in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that's currently getting hammered out in the Senate.

The $1 trillion bill includes $550 billion in new spending, of which tens of billions of dollars will go toward broadband expansion, low-income internet subsidies, electric vehicle investments, charging stations, cybersecurity and more. The outpouring of federal funding gives anyone from telecom giants to device manufacturers a lot to like.

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Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

When the COVID-19 crisis crippled societies last year, the collective worldwide race for a cure among medical researchers put a spotlight on the immense power of big data analysis and how sharing among disparate agencies can save lives.

The critical need to exchange information among hundreds of international agencies or departments can be tough to pull off, especially if it's medical, financial or cybersecurity information that is highly protected by regulatory guardrails.

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James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Protocol | Workplace

Silicon Valley has a new recruitment strategy: The four-day workweek

Everything you need to know about how tech companies are beta testing the 32-hour week.

Since the onset of COVID-19, more companies have begun to explore shortened workweeks.

Photo: Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

At software company Wildbit, most employees are logged off on Fridays. That's not going to change anytime soon.

To Natalie Nagele, the company's co-founder and CEO, a full five days of work doesn't necessarily mean the company will get more stuff done. She pointed to computer science professor Cal Newport's book, "Deep Work," which explains how a person's ability to complete meaningful work cuts off after just about four hours. That book, Nagele told Protocol, inspired the company to move to a four-day workweek back in 2017.

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Sarah Roach

Sarah Roach is a reporter and producer at Protocol (@sarahroach_) where she contributes to Source Code, Protocol's daily newsletter. She is a recent graduate of George Washington University, where she studied journalism and mass communication and criminal justice. She previously worked for two years as editor in chief of her school's independent newspaper, The GW Hatchet.

Power

The game industry comes back down to Earth after its pandemic boom

Game company earnings reports this week show a decline from last year's big profits.

The game industry is slowing down as it struggles to maintain last year's record growth.

Photo: Cyril Marcilhacy/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The video game industry is finally slowing down. After a year of unprecedented and explosive growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic, big game publishers and hardware makers are starting to see profits dip from their 2020 highs and other signs of a return to normalcy.

This week alone, Sony and Nintendo both posted substantial drops in profit compared to this time a year ago, with Sony's operating income down more than 40% and Nintendo's down 17%. Grand Theft Auto maker Take-Two Interactive saw a dip in revenue and said its forecast for the rest of the fiscal year would not match last year's growth, while EA posted a revenue bump but an operating income decline of more than 43% compared to this time a year ago. Ubisoft, which reported earnings last month, saw its sales and bookings this past quarter drop by 14% and 21%, respectively, when compared to a year ago.

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Nick Statt
Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at nstatt@protocol.com.

Allocations wants to make it easier to invest in startups as a group

Now valued at $100 million, it's emerging from stealth to challenge Carta and Assure in the SPV market.

Kingsley Advani, CEO of Allocations, wants to make it easier to form SPVs.

Photo: Allocations

Software is eating the world, including the venture industry. Carta and Assure have made it easier than ever for people to band together on deals. AngelList's venture arm debuted new ways to create rolling funds. But the latest startup to challenge the incumbents in the space is Allocations, a Miami-based startup that's making it easy to create and close special purpose vehicles, or SPVs, in hours.

"If you look at Pinduoduo and group shopping, SPVs are group investing," said Kingsley Advani, Allocations' founder and CEO. Instead of one investor having to cough up millions, multiple people can write smaller checks in an SPV and invest as a cohort. It's a trend that's taken off in 2021 as investors compete to get into hot startups.

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Biz Carson

Biz Carson ( @bizcarson) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol, covering Silicon Valley with a focus on startups and venture capital. Previously, she reported for Forbes and was co-editor of Forbes Next Billion-Dollar Startups list. Before that, she worked for Business Insider, Gigaom, and Wired and started her career as a newspaper designer for Gannett.

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