In the seemingly obligatory victory lap for a company that's gone public with an estimated worth of around $7 billion, Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd offered some advice for would-be business owners: "You can monetize anything. Figure out what you're passionate about and if you're really good at it, there's some way to turn it into a business."
While I don't want to throw shade on Wolfe Herd's considerable accomplishments, the truth is that most successful entrepreneurs (like Wolfe Herd) come from a wealthy background. More specifically, they tend to come from a white, privileged, rich background.
Business Relauncher recently cited a 2020 Crunchbase study finding that:
Black and Latinx founders represented just 2.6 percent of the total $87.3 billion in venture capital funding. The stats were even grimmer for Black women founders, who accounted for only 0.64 percent of all venture capital funding.
While there are a handful "up from your own bootstrap" successful entrepreneurs, they are the exceptions that prove the rule. People who don't have rich parents are usually too busy hustling to stay alive to be thinking much about a "side hustle."
The problem with this "go get 'em" rhetoric is that it plays into the myth that poor people are poor because they're lazy, and that the solution to the deindustrialization of America is for everyone to become an entrepreneur.
The falseness of this myth has especially become clear during the pandemic, where billionaires (both self-made and hereditary) have cleaned up while average workers have been suffering without the support of trade unions or a government that cares about them.
It would be nice if once, just once, a newly-minted billionaire would say something like, "I was lucky to be born white and rich, so that I could develop a frankly not-all-that-original idea that landed at just the right time."
And then maybe a statement that billionaires ought to be required to use a percentage of their money to drive reforms, like universal health care that would level the playing field, or a decent minimum wage for people who need good jobs, not tone-deaf platitudes.