Is Serena Williams’ Next Big Thing Investing in Planet-Friendly Companies?
With 23 Grand Slam championship titles, tennis icon Serena Williams announced this week that she would retire from the sport to focus on herself, her family, and her investments. In a conversation with Vogue, the all-star tennis player revealed that she’s felt reluctant to leave tennis, but “something’s got to give.”
Now, her attention will be reserved for her other work, Serena Ventures –– the venture capital firm Williams started quietly in 2014. The investment firm has invested in 55 companies to date with several more on the way. Williams notes that Serena Ventures’ key mission is to make investments that empower Black-owned, women-led, and sustainable businesses.
“In my own life, the balance has been slowly shifting toward Serena Ventures,” Williams told Vogue. “I’m so excited to walk downstairs to my office and jump onto Zooms and start reviewing decks of companies we’re considering investing in. We’re a small but growing firm of six people scattered between Florida – where I mainly live – Texas, and California.
“I started investing nine years ago, and I really fell in love with early stage, whether it’s pre-seed funding, where you’re investing in just an idea, or seed, where the idea has already been turned into a product.”
Turning vegan in 2012, Williams has advocated for the health benefits of plant-based dieting, helping to dispel myths that athletes cannot perform as well following a vegan diet. Although she now follows a "mostly" vegan diet, she plans to continue her advocacy off the court through investments. Williams already carries an impressive portfolio of vegan and sustainable investments, and in retirement, she plans to double down on her business side.
Serena Williams’ Sustainable Investments
1. Impossible Foods: Williams helped Impossible Foods secure $300 million alongside other celebrity investors including Jay-Z, Katy Perry, Trevor Noah, and more. Now, Impossible remains a frontrunner in the vegan meat category, releasing new products including meatballs, sausages, and more.
2. Just Egg: This May, Williams starred in JUST Egg's "Really Good Eggs" campaign with actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
3. Pachama: In 2020, Williams announced that she invested in this sustainable technology company. Pachama is dedicated to helping the environment by measuring and removing carbon emissions from the atmosphere and working to restore forests.
4. Wile: Williams recently helped hormonal wellness brand Wile secure a $3 million investment package in May. Wile's supplement products prioritize plant-based ingredients.
5. S By Serena: Williams' clothing line features cruelty-free, sustainable materials. Launched in 2018, the brand produces 100 percent vegan cruelty-free fashion. In 2020, S By Serena released a collection using vegan leather.
6. Daily Harvest: Teaming up with Gwenyth Paltrow, Williams became one of Daily Harvest's first celebrity backers. While the vegan frozen food company helped change the plant-based market, the company has recently experienced harder times due to a recall of its meat-free crumbles product.
Venus Williams' Business Off the Court
Interest in vegan and sustainable products runs in the family. Venus Williams, Serena's older sister and seven-time Grand Slam winner, also spends her time away from the court promoting sustainable, plant-based companies. Last April, Williams joined PlantX as an investor and ambassador.
In 2020, Venus Williams launched her vegan protein company Happy Viking in collaboration with Dyla Brands. The tennis champion adopted a plant-based diet when recovering from her autoimmune disease. Happy Viking provides plant-based consumers with nutrient-dense, healthy protein options.
Alexis Ohanian and Serena Williams: Sustainable Power Couple
When Serena William first met her husband and Reddit Co-Founder Aleix Ohanian, they discussed their mutual fascination with technology, crediting that conversation for inspiring their future investments.
“I’ve always been fascinated with technology, and I’ve always loved how it really shapes our lives,” Williams told The New York Times. “When I met my husband, that was our first conversation. That’s how we met. I was talking about investments.”
Ohanian joins the Williams sisters in his plant-based and sustainable investments. The entrepreneur claims that as soon as he tasted an Impossible Burger, he knew he needed to back the vegan meat brand. Since then, Ohanian has helped the plant-based food start-up SIMULATE (responsible for Nuggs) secure a $50 million funding round last June.
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