Marcelo Claure and Paul Judge team up to lead Open Opportunity Fund, a venture fund for Black and Latino-founded tech startups

Marcelo Claure, a Bolivian-American tycoon known for founding and steering the ship of the multi-billion dollar Claure Group, is teaming up with Paul Judge, an American businessman and philanthropist with ties to JUDGE Capital Management and the NBA’s Miami Heat, taking the helm of the Open Opportunity Fund.

The move is a big comeback for Claure to the Open Opportunity Fund, this time as the Vice Chairman and General Partner. Claure’s involvement traces back to June 2020 when SoftBank Group introduced the SB Opportunity Fund to invest in underrepresented founders.

During his tenure as CEO of SoftBank Group International, Claure played a pivotal role as a founding member of the fund. Under SoftBank’s wing, the Opportunity Fund swiftly incubated and deployed an initial $100 million into 75 Black- and Latino-led companies. SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 and the Latin America Fund collectively invested almost $600 million in Opportunity Fund portfolio companies, contributing to a total of nearly $700 million invested across SoftBank’s various funds, SoftBank said in a news release.

Adding to the development, Claure is partnering with Open Opportunity Fund Chairman, Paul Judge, in their previously disclosed agreement to acquire an ownership stake in the $100 million Opportunity Fund 1 portfolio from SoftBank. While SoftBank maintains its commitment to fostering a diverse founder community and remains an investor in Fund 2, the Open Opportunity Fund is set on doubling in size. They aim to elevate Fund 2 to a $200 million fund accessible to limited partners (LPs) and other investors.

Claure, also the founder and CEO of the Claure Group, a multi-billion-dollar global investment firm, brings a wealth of experience to the table. He holds leadership positions as the Chairman and Managing Partner at growth equity firm Bicycle Capital and Group Vice Chairman of SHEIN.

Claure’s return to the Open Opportunity Fund is deeply tied to a shared mission with Judge—to level the playing field for Black and Latino entrepreneurs, a demographic often grappling with limited access to capital for business expansion.

“As a Latino and Hispanic entrepreneur who was successful in growing businesses, I still had to fight harder to get funding,” remarked Marcelo Claure, Vice Chairman and General Partner of Open Opportunity Fund. “Paul fought those same battles as a Black entrepreneur. Together through the Open Opportunity Fund, we are investing back into our communities, ensuring that Black and Latino innovators have the capital they need to grow profitable businesses. We are grateful to SoftBank for investing in Black- and Latino-led companies through the initial fund, and we appreciate their commitment to Fund 2 as we build on that legacy.”

Paul Judge, Chairman of Open Opportunity Fund, expressed excitement about partnering with Marcelo again, considering it a full-circle moment. He sees their collaboration as not only an investment endeavor but also a statement—a testament to the power of an independently-owned fund led by a Black American and a Bolivian immigrant.

SoftBank, as the founding LP and an investor in Fund 2, reiterates its commitment to fostering diversity. Brett Rochkind, Managing Partner of SoftBank Investment Advisers, stated, “We believe that under Marcelo and Paul’s leadership, the Open Opportunity Fund is strongly positioned to enter its next chapter, and we look forward to our continued support of its important mission.”

Meanwhile, Opportunity Fund 1, with a $100 million investment, supported 75 Black- and Latino-led tech companies, including notable names like Atomic, Brex, Career Karma, and Cityblock Health. The fund achieved seven exits and is now directing its efforts toward Fund 2, which is open to corporations, institutions, qualified individuals, and other LPs who share their commitment to supporting Black and Latino tech founders.

Back in May, we covered the Open Opportunity Fund when SoftBank gave it a new name and invested a massive $150 million in Black and Latino startups.

In 2022, despite comprising over 30% of the U.S. population, Black and Latino founders received less than 3% of venture capital funding. The Open Opportunity Fund’s mission remains clear: to deliver robust financial performance by championing Black and Latino tech founders, and recognizing the proven benefits of diversity in business success.

Beyond the financial maneuverings, Claure and Judge are also gearing up to be hands-on contributors. They’re not just figureheads; they’ve pledged active engagement with the fund’s portfolio companies, cementing their commitment to nurturing and empowering these startups.

The significance of their involvement transcends mere business dealings. It’s a beacon of hope and a shot of adrenaline for diversity in tech—an industry where, as per a 2022 Crunchbase report, a paltry 1.1% of venture capital funds find their way to Black-founded startups and 2.3% to those led by Latino entrepreneurs.

For Claure and Judge, the Open Opportunity Fund isn’t just about financial returns. It’s about creating a platform where underrepresented innovators can thrive. They firmly believe that these entrepreneurs hold the keys to unlocking billions in value creation and driving substantial job growth.

Headquartered in the bustling heart of New York City, the fund’s reach spans far beyond the city limits—it seeks out promising ventures across the entirety of the United States. This expansion of resources and guidance is part of their strategy to fuel the growth of these budding enterprises.