Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Serena Williams announces her VC firm via Instagram | Advertising Age

Serena Williams, tennis pro, mom, influencer and entrepreneur, is out to conquer another world: investing.

On Wednesday morning, the tennis champ took to Instagram to announce her own venture capital firmSerena Ventures.

Williams wrote in a post to her 10.9 million Instagram followers that she's been quietly investing in a variety of start-ups through the firm since 2014.

The firm's website lists the 30 start-ups in the VC’s portfolio, so far. The offerings range from food delivery and razors to cryptocurrencies. The list includes d-to-c frozen smoothie and bowls delivery service Daily Harvest; women-focused razor subscription service Billie; and The Wing, a company that designs co-working spaces that are tailored to the needs of women. Also in the portfolio is Propel, which provides financial software for low-income Americans, and cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase.

Williams says that the firm focuses on investing in diverse companies with young founders and that foster collaboration. In her Instagram post, she wrote “Serena Ventures invests in companies that embrace diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity and opportunity.”

Alison J. Rapaport is vice president of the firm. A CPA who previously worked with J.P. Morgan, Rapaport is tasked with overseeing and sourcing the firm’s portfolio. According to the Serena Ventures website, the market cap for its portfolio is an estimated $12 billion.

The announcement makes Williams one part of a dynamic investing duo. Husband Alexis Ohanianco-founder of Reddit and venture capital firm Initialized Capitalhas been a long-time investor in several successful start-ups, including grocery delivery service Instacart, real estate platform Opendoor and Coinbase. Ohanian’s firm currently supports more than 100 portfolio clients and manages $500 million.

Ohanian posted a celebratory tweet on Wednesday following his wife's Instagram post.

Williams is one of the highest paid female athletes. In 2017, she was the only female athlete on Forbes’ list of 100 highest paid athletes, with more than $27 million in prize money and endorsements. She is an investor in Bumble Fund, an initiative from dating app Bumble that supports early stage businesses founded by women of color and other underrepresented groups. Williams has her own clothing line, Serena, which she launched in May 2018. Williams is also a board member of Poshmark and SurveyMonkey.



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