In a first-time collaboration among Wisconsin’s three major pro sports teams, the Green Bay Packers, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Milwaukee Brewers have teamed up with technology company Microsoft to form the Equity League, a new impact investment division of venture capital fund TitletownTech.
TitletownTech was founded in 2017 as a partnership between the Packers and Microsoft. Headquartered across the street from Lambeau Field, the alliance between the two organizations has created a venture studio and fund that has built over 20 startups. Last year, TitletownTech launched a $25 million venture fund with a dozen Wisconsin-based companies as limited partners, including Schneider, Plexus and the Village Companies.
One of the foundational points of the Equity League is to spread opportunity regardless of race and gender. According to the League, only 1% of VC-backed startups are black and less than 2% are Latino.
Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy had the idea of starting the Equity League, and he quickly shared his concept with Brewers president of business operations Rick Schlesinger and Bucks president Peter Feigin. “It’s time for us to step up,” said Murphy in a statement. “I’m proud we are taking a bigger role to focus on driving meaningful change and bridging a significant gap for social impact companies and minority founders.”
The Equity League plans to prioritize black and Latino founders through hiring venture fellows and investing in education, digital inclusion and urban innovation, among other strategies. “The Equity League at TitletownTech is a meaningful step to help black and Latino founders get access to capital and support to grow their startups into thriving businesses,” said Microsoft president Brad Smith in a statement.
Spearheading the Equity League will be Israel Squires, a former college football player who’s now an M&A/securities lawyer and an entrepreneur. “We’re attacking a multi-faceted, generational problem with a multi-faceted, generational solution,” said Squires in a statement. “Our goal is to invest in companies and founders that have strong potential to produce both significant financial returns and large-scale social impact.”