Alice, a free platform powered by Machine Learning that guides business owners through the growth of their company, today announced Bumble and Serena Ventures as investors in Alice that will ensure every founder, no matter their background, has the opportunity to launch and scale. Together, Alice, Bumble, and Serena Ventures, led by Serena Williams, will provide access to critical growth resources, guidance, and small business opportunities for everyone with an entrepreneurial spirit. In honor of this announcement, Alice is paying it forward, providing a financial grant and mentorship to one small business owner who applies at www.helloalice.com.
Alice is one of a small yet growing group of platforms and small-business facing services openly welcoming business people from minority and groups facing bias and discrimination. A distinguishing factor in this platform is the integration of machine learning in delivery of services, which recently has been pointed out as easily being marred in commercial use by hidden bias from the use of algorithms that haven’t been specifically checked and modified appropriately.
“Alice helps connect business owners to resources important for their individual industry growth. As an investor in the company, we are working to ensure that women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and all underrepresented groups in business are given equal access to funding, networking, and services that are vital to success,” said Serena Williams.
Bumble and Serena Ventures join SVB Financial Group, Silicon Valley Bank’s holding company, as lead, as well as Cathie Reid, Jean Case, Phyllis Newhouse, Shatter Fund, and Signia Venture Partners in Alice’s latest Series A financing round. Amounts are not disclosed. As part owners in the company, Bumble and Williams will facilitate the expansion of Alice’s machine learning capabilities to provide carefully curated business resources to Alice users based on their stage of growth, location, industry, and more. Alice is aggregating the most comprehensive set of SMB trend analysis and insights in the world, supporting its goal of removing barriers to vital resources that women, people of color, veterans, and LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs face when launching businesses.
“Alice could not be a better fit for Bumble as we expand on our mission to create empowering connections in people’s work lives as well as their personal relationships,” said Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd. “At the end of the day, we work to give women the tools they need to make the first move, and investing in Alice’s platform – geared towards uplifting women and other underrepresented small business owners – is a great way for us to continue to get more involved in our local communities and ultimately help create positive change in the broader business community.”
Integral to the raise is a first-of-its-kind #MeToo morality clause. The clause reinforces the commitment of both Alice and its investors to ensure Alice board members and voting stockholders are held accountable for choices that could affect Alice’s workforce and community of over 100,000 business owners. The clause requires stockholders to use corporate governance mechanisms to vote for removal of any board member in the event of a “#MeToo event, racial discrimination, and/or sexual orientation discrimination incident.”
“Having business leaders like Serena Williams and Whitney Wolfe Herd as part owners in Alice has created a dream team of savvy investors,” said Elizabeth Gore, president and chairwoman of Alice. “We see our partnership as an extension of the work Serena and Bumble have already done to advance women and New Majority owners in business, and we are thrilled to welcome their perspectives and input as we expand our reach into local business communities and bring forward business for all in 2020.”
As Alice expands its platform to provide valuable resources to small business owners across the country, Serena Williams and Whitney Wolfe Herd are joining together with Alice founders Elizabeth Gore and Carolyn Rodz to further advance the powerhouse intelligent business advising company in order to cultivate the success of every entrepreneur.