Often as people ask me how the venture and startup market is doing, I need to take a minute. The easy answer is that we are seeing a recession. The correct answer is more nuanced: there is indeed a recession, but it has much more impact for some than for others.
An example of this is as clear as day Mistral AI‘s recent fundraising of $113 million. The company, founded by three French white men, started just four weeks ago and doesn’t even have a product yet. That round, which values the company at $260 million, is welcomed as Europe’s largest seed round to date.
Mistral AI’s fundraising is in some ways unique for the moment. There is a lot of excitement around AI right now, and this round included some US and international investors, which is not something you often see for many French startups.
But there are some things that don’t change, no matter what’s hyped. The market may be improving for AI startups, but we’ve yet to see a lot of money going to women or people of color. Don’t get me wrong, women get money for building AI in (black founders, not so much), but not at the rates men seem to be getting. Of course, these three French men fit the profile of those likely to receive a $113 million pre-seed check: ambitious Google’s Deep Mind and Meta alumni, two of whom have degrees from the École Polytechnique, practically the MIT of France.
Of course, more effort is being made to support women in France these days, but the fundraising environment for some French black founders remains both clearly and discreetly discriminatory, which is not surprising given the general treatment of black individuals in the country. There isn’t enough data on how much women and people of color are even seeking funding in France (keeping minority statistics in France is illegal, so no such data exists), making it difficult to measure how much underrepresented founders are raising .