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Billionaire Melinda French Gates wants to create an alternative to Silicon Valley: ‘To change it would be incredibly hard’

By | Megan Sauer |

Melinda French Gates wants to shake up the tech industry, starting in Silicon Valley.

The billionaire philanthropist told Fortune this week that the goal of her venture capital firm Pivotal Ventures isn’t simply to get more women into major companies. Instead, she wants to help foster an entirely new community of women-led startups that can thrive independently of Silicon Valley.

“To re-create Silicon Valley or to change it would be incredibly hard,” French Gates said. “But when you’re starting fresh and new, if you start with a model in this perspective, then I don’t think you’ll replicate the old one we had in Silicon Valley.”

For French Gates, who has a net worth of $6.3 billion as of Wednesday afternoon, that starts with funding projects that aim to reform the way women in tech climb career ladders, improving their access to opportunities and decision-making influence. The idea is that a broader and more equitable range of voices in a boardroom equals more ideas, which betters technology, French Gates added.

French Gates committed $1 billion of her own money to Pivotal in 2019, four years after launching the firm. Since then, Pivotal has donated and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in more than 150 for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

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