SVB Demonstrates Commitment To Black Founders At AfroTech Conference


Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) made a noticeable presence at AfroTech, the largest Black tech conference in the United States, held in Austin this week. Despite its highly publicized collapse eight months ago, many Black founders still hold a level of care and interest in the bank. SVB’s sponsorship and hosting of parties at the conference, however, left some attendees feeling conflicted.

Key Takeaway

Silicon Valley Bank’s presence at AfroTech, a Black tech conference, elicited mixed responses from attendees. While some criticized the bank’s celebration as being in poor taste after the fallout, others respected SVB’s historical significance and noted its potential for redemption. SVB’s commitment to the Black founder community will play a crucial role in rebuilding trust and establishing themselves once again.

Awkward Taste at AfroTech

For some Black techies, SVB’s presence at AfroTech raised eyebrows and left an uncomfortable feeling. One founder, who preferred to remain anonymous, expressed that it seemed “in poor taste” for the bank to celebrate at a Black tech conference after the fallout that affected numerous Black founders who had trusted the bank for their financial needs.

The abrupt collapse of SVB led many founders to seek alternative banking solutions, leaving a significant impact on the bank’s reputation within the Black founder community. However, there were individuals who still maintained respect for SVB despite not being customers themselves.

Respect and Redemption

Luke Bailey, the founder of Neon Money Club, disclosed that he had never banked with SVB due to perceived concentrated risk. Nevertheless, he acknowledged the bank’s historical importance in shaping the startup banking landscape and admired SVB’s presence at the conference.

Bailey recognized that the bank had made missteps leading to its downfall, but he believed that SVB still had a desirable startup banking team in the nation. While acknowledging that many Black founders who had left SVB did not return, he felt that people were ready to move on from the past.

He expressed admiration for SVB’s continued commitment to the Black community, stating that it demonstrated a strong mission-driven approach beyond the unfortunate circumstances. Bailey emphasized that SVB had to regain trust from scratch to earn the respect of the community once again.

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