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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Lucas Institute for Venture Ethics

The Lucas Institute for Venture Ethics is the first and only institute focused solely on the study and promotion of applied venture ethics.

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What is Venture Ethics?

by Tracy Barba, director, venture and equity ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

The Lucas Institute for Venture Ethics is the first and only institute focused solely on studying and promoting applied ethics in venture capital (launch announcement here). The Institute is made possible through a grant from the Lucas Brothers Foundation.  

Donald L. Lucas is widely regarded as the godfather of venture capital and is known for his significant contributions and pioneering efforts in the field.  During his career, he served as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of Oracle Corporation, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Cadence Design Systems, Inc. and a Director of over 20 public and private companies, including Dexcom, Macromedia/Adobe Systems, Coulter Pharmaceutical/GSK, and HBO and Company.

He inspired future generations to join him. His son Don was a proud second-generation venture capitalist who founded RWI Group in 1993 and Lucas Venture Group (LVG) in 2007, which is under the leadership of a third generation (Sarah Lucas and Jack Lucas).  They all share a belief in the power of venture capital to make the world a better place.

Their investments include Oracle, Cadence, Palantir, Avinger, MightyNetworks, Berkeley Lights, Bossa Nova Robotics, Katerra, Pallet Shelter, and Finicast. With a unique network cultivated over six decades in the venture space and deep roots in Silicon Valley, they continue to produce access to financial and intellectual capital for entrepreneurs.

We are grateful for the support of the Lucas Brothers Foundation.

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Meet the Director: Tracy Barba

Tracy Barba is the founder of Responsible VC, a nonprofit advisory and consultancy advancing responsible policies and practices in venture capital. She was most recently head of ESG and stakeholder engagement at 500 Global. Before that, she led capital formation for Bamboo Capital Partners, a private equity fund investing in financial services, renewable energy, and healthcare sectors across more than 30 emerging and frontier market countries. Previously, she led public affairs at Social Finance US, the firm behind the Social Impact Bond. She was the West Coast executive director of Golden Seeds, a 275-member investor network investing in women-led companies. She started her career with venture funds in Silicon Valley, including VantagePoint Venture Partners and InterWest Partners.

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As we embark on an era of unprecedented innovation, venture capitalists possess the power to shape a secure and sustainable future. The question that remains is whether they will seize the moment.

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Responsible AI Venture Council (RAIVC)

The RAIVC, comprising researchers, product developers, industry partners, founders, venture capitalists, and limited partners, will produce a concise framework of ethical principles and practices guiding investment considerations in responsible AI. The framework and guidelines will build on the experience and expertise of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. 

Learn more about RAIVC

Two Column
Do Venture Capitalists Care About Ethics?

Where do financial interests and ESG concerns collide? How do venture capitalists navigate important issues such as the climate crisis, ethics, and diversity?

Tracy Barba, director, venture and equity ethics, chats with Wild Beasts Podcast Producer, Courtney Davis ’21, to discuss venture capital and ESG.

Listen to Wild Beasts

Venture Ethics Commentary
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Tracy Barba, director of venture and equity ethics, quoted by CNN.

Kirk Hanson, Ethics Center senior fellow, quoted by Wall Street Journal.

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Businesses that serve consumers and other businesses simultaneously often involve conflicted interests, and require regulation to reconcile these conflicts.