Morgan DeBaun, the 28-year-old cofounder and CEO of the media outlet Blavity, announced Friday that she raised $6.5 milllion in new funding led by GV (formerly known as Google Ventures). The Series A round also received participation from new investors Comcast Ventures, Plexo Capital, and Baron Davis Enterprises, an investment firm owned by NBA All-Star and entrepreneur Baron Davis. Not only is this a huge win for black-owned media, it marks the largest amount of venture capital raised by an African American female founder this year.
Blavity, a digital content company geared toward black millennials, was created in 2014 by DeBaun and her cofounders Aaron Samuels, Jonathan Jackson, and Jeff Nelson. According to a press release, this latest round of funding will be used to help the online publication grow, create new platforms, and accelerate its mission to ultimately become the premier destination for a new generation of black media consumers. Currently headquartered in Los Angeles, the multimedia company also plans to open a second location that will focus on engineering and data.
In an interview with TechCrunch, DeBaun revealed that she intends to triple the size of the company’s engineering team, which will work on new products and content creation tools in the new office that will likely be in Atlanta. “A lot of innovation will come out of that office in the next six to nine months,” she said. TechCrunch also reports that GV Partner John Lyman will join Blavity’s board of directors as part of the new investment.
Prior to this Series A round, Blavity raised a little over $1.8 million from several investors, including MACRO, New Media Ventures, Base Ventures, Cross Culture Ventures, Harlem Capital Partners, and the Knight Enterprise Fund. This made DeBaun one of the few African American female founders that raised more than $1 million in funding in 2017.
In the last four years, Blavity has acquired additional content platforms, like Travel Noire, a travel startup for black millennials, and Shadow and Act, which focuses on lifestyle news and entertainment. The multimedia company also launched a series of live events, including AfroTech, its signature tech conference in Silicon Valley, and EmpowerHer, a summit specifically for black women.
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