Sean “Diddy” Combs’ history with Diageo could be a sign that even at the top of the mountain, there remains barriers to overcome as a Black entrepreneur.

In 2007, Diddy and Diageo formed a partnership with the goal of increasing Cîroc’s exposure and boosting their sales. At the time, the agreement included a 50/50 split with the company, per Today. Now, however, the conglomerate maintains 100% ownership of Cîroc.

At the time, Diddy was looking for a foray into the spirits industry, as his “ultimate dream” was to one day own a tequilla brand.

“First of all, corporate America is made and built for white men,” Diddy said during Invest Fest 2023. “So when you are going into corporate America, usually your entryway is to help them with they diversity problem. But at the end of the day, you want to be able to open up doors. Sometimes you gotta take that opportunity and get in. And so that’s what I did with Cîroc, but I told them I don’t work for nobody.”

He added, “Everything in my portfolio I own.”

Diddy also reflected on not having equity in Cîroc.

“Everybody has a journey and that’s just really how corporate America works,” Diddy said. “You gotta pay your dues to get in and they make us prove ourselves over and over and over. I don’t have any regrets because the journey was the most important. And also, I’m not really letting Cîroc go. So, I’m going through this, but it’s part of the journey. So, I had to go through this to be able to get to this point.”

In 2022, Diddy reportedly hit billionaire status thanks, in part, to his success in the spirits industry. In 2013, Diddy moved forward with another venture with Diageo to launch DeLeón, fulfilling his dream of owning a tequila brand. According to Bloomberg Law, he owns 50%.

As AFROTECH previously told, Diddy is in the middle of a legal battle with the company due to claims that they have failed to adhere to their promise of investing in diverse-owned brands.

“I want to be treated equally like anybody else. So that’s what the fight is about. And it’s not me just fighting for me. I’m fighting for us. ’cause whatever bar I set, y’all have to come behind me on that bar, and I wanna make sure that it’s right,” he expressed during Invest Fest.

Editorial Note: This piece has been updated since initially published for clarity.