Arielle Pardes, a senior writer at WIRED, was then joined by venture capitalists Arlan Hamilton and Katie Rae . Hamilton is the founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, a fund designed to promote underrepresented innovators. Rae is the CEO and managing partner of the Engine, whose stated goal is to back founders with transformational tech requiring years of development.When asked about the genesis of Backstage Capital, Hamilton responded, “Ninety percent of venture funding goes to straight white men.” Where most people would see a defeatist statistic, though, Hamilton saw an opportunity to capitalize on the brightest minds of our most underestimated thinkers. “If we have done so much with so little,” she thought at the time, “what would happen if we were given more, if we had that slight chance that was not afforded to us prior.”
For those investors still not sold on the economics of social good, Rae noted, “If you talk to young people, what you hear so often is, 'We want to do good.' So if you just follow the youth in what will be, you’re going to make money by being aligned. The youth always know. So you just sound old when you say you can’t make money by doing good.”
SUBSCRIBESubscribe to WIRED to catch the biggest stories on tech, science, and the future of how we live.Then WIRED’s Matt Simon led a panel on global environmental challenges with some of the scientists catalyzing the tech in the field. Joining him were Deonie Allen and Steve Allen from the University of Strathclyde to discuss their study of microplastics and how they’re transported through the atmosphere. Skeptics may brush off microplastics as a micro-concern, but according to Deonie, they’ve found them everywhere. Throughout their globe-trotting research, they’ve yet to take “a sample that doesn’t have plastic in it.”
Being tall, white, enthusiastic, and good at computers, I’ve ended up the CEO of a software services company, working for various large enterprises to build their digital dreams—which you’d figure would be like being a kid in a candy store for me, sculpting software experiences all day until they ship to the web or into app stores.