Why I invest in women
I did a recap on my investments before writing this post. Roughly 60% of the investments I have made over the past 8 years have been in women entrepreneurs who are either solo or the co-founder. I am pretty sure that I am doing significantly better than most when it comes to supporting women. I really make a conscious effort to support women entrepreneurs even if I do not invest in them. The lawsuit that hit the air waves yesterday about Tinder really made me take pause. For any of you who were not on their regular information channels yesterday, Whitney Wolfe the co-founder of Tinder (and it appears from many points of proof in the legal documents – everything is public knowledge – that she was the reason behind the name, the launch and a lot more) was mentally and sexually harassed for years. Wouldn’t be surprised to see more women reading that and thinking to themselves, wow that sounds like what is happening to me. The most amazing thing about the technology industry, which is essentially the “it” industry these days is that young dynamic smart people can build a business, turn an industry upside down and get the funding they need to do it just by giving up a piece of their ownership for the upside of building something big. The downside is that many, of course not all or who would I invest in, of the people building these businesses are young, arrogant and have zero experience in managing people. Sometimes I even wonder how their mother would feel if they witnessed some of their behavior. I admit that I have talked to some of the “bros” that every article wrote about yesterday. One group in particular that when I got off the phone with them I was flabbergasted. BTW, they exist in many industries but I am focused on tech because that is where I spend my time. The frat mentality is we are so superior to everyone around us that you best get on our band wagon now or you will be sorry is essentially the message they put out. That swagger becomes a cancer within the company which is why there are more than a handful of companies in the tech industry that do not have one woman on the team. Unfortunately there are many investors out there who actually connect with that attitude. So why do I invest in women? The list is long but the most important reason is that I believe that the more women that rise to the top as successful entrepreneurs proving their businesses to be worthy investments the more women will be invested in. Of course the thought is with more women being successful the less we will see young men behave in the manner that appears to have happened at Tinder (older men too). Let’s all hope that a few years from now that investors are seeking out women to invest in and that this type of behavior is vilified. That as investors we will dismiss young men who behave in this manner, quickly and appropriately vs ignoring the frat boy mentality and turning a cheek for the next supposed big idea.
Joanne, I applaud you. As you know, I’ve been reading your blog for years now, and we’ve occasionally been in contact. One reason I look forward to reading your posts is your support of women entrepreneurs, and the fantastic stories you share about how they came to start their businesses. As one of a handful of women VCs, and literally the only woman managing partner of a venture fund operating in Mexico (MITA Ventures), I, too look to support women founders. I do so not merely because I am one–it is because I see in them a work ethic, intelligence, and ideas that are every bit as deserving of support. I am saddened to read news such as what happened in Tinder. I will say that pretty much a majority of the companies we look at and invest in, in Mexico have a female founder. Further, I do not see the sort of swagger in young start-ups that I see so often in the Silicon Valley companies I meet with. Despite the stereotype of “machismo”, in Mexico, mothers are revered, and I think that translates into more respect for women. I absolutely agree with you that investors have a responsibility to invest in people who not only “may” create the next-big-thing, but who will create companies which cultivate a culture of respect and equal opportunity for all qualified partners and employees.
*I, too look to support women founders. I do so not merely because I am one–it is because I see in them a work ethic, intelligence, and ideas that are every bit as deserving of support*Bravo!
Thanks for posting this, Joanne. I hadn’t yet seen the Tinder blowup. Having been involved in the tech world for many years, I have seen some of this too. Mostly, though, these are the men that were excluded from the frats because they didn’t fit in and wouldn’t participate in a lot of those things. I’ve seen it from those who move into management mostly – those who are eager to climb the ranks and it becomes an accepted norm that one must be crude and obnoxious. Often as the only woman in the room, I had the choice of joining in or leaving. The “potty mouth” that now haunts me when my kids are misbehaving is the result of my choices then.I could write all day on the woman cofounder/dynamics of partners thing having lost that battle once myself, but my key issue these days is how to connect with more women VCs and other VCs like you who will take me seriously as an entrepreneur. The bias runs deep and the mens only club persists. How do we make the landscape change moving forward so we are equally treated in opportunities and attitudes? How does the next Jill Abramson not get fired for doing what a man might do?
who knows what goes on behind closed doors but more women at the top changes the dynamics
I’ve seen that Women in Startups are such a powerful reinforcing resource. They cut through all the BS, are extremely motivated, are tougher than anyone in the business and are firmly committed to making the business grow. The only way they could get derailed is by petty, malicious, backbiting, underhanded emotional slights from insecure men.I’m thrilled to work with some amazing women, both as team members, investors and customers at Sourceasy. I feel that its much easier to communicate with them, there’s no ego involved 1-to-1 – There is some emotional sensitivity and some amount of tact that is needed in communication – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.I’ve also seen that if you have enough strong women founders in a cohort – like in Batch 9 of 500 Startups (40% Women founders, team members), “bros” automatically tone their crap talking down, are more respectful, are more genuine and are able to sidestep objectifying women. This batch has probably some of the best camaraderie between Men and Women working side by side.And I’m proud to be part of that culture – inclusive, merit-based and warm towards everyone.Thanks for this post, Joanne,- Pranay
That Tinder story made me sick. It shows *so* much about what’s fucked up with not just “brogrammer” culture, but culture in general.There’s this thought that straight white dudes don’t “get emotional.” That’s for women, or queeny gays, the angry black man, etc. Lies. And that lie was thoroughly exposed through Justin Mateen’s insane behavior, evidenced in his texts to Whitney.What’s worse is that people will write this off as one bad apple that shouldn’t spoil the bunch. But there are *many* bad apples. And shouldn’t that be obvious? While I will not justify Justin’s terrible actions in any way at all, they were human. Dude got his heart broken and he did what he thought he needed to protect his dignity, and he chose poorly in the process. People do this all the time. Straight white dudes are not exempt.What made me even more sad was Whiteny’s reaction when Sean the CEO was brought in. Sean seemed to do/say whatever to bring a swift end to the situation, and Whitney didn’t fight for herself in the process. She downplayed everything. She asked if she would be fired, if she could get severance, if her shares would vest. She’s the fucking co-founder! She has say! She has authority! Why she felt like she couldn’t take the reigns of the situation… I don’t know. But it’s sad.Sorry for the rant. I went to bed upset at this last night. Mostly because I’m at a loss for ideas on how the issues can be resolved. They’re so deeply ingrained in our culture, from TV to everyday life. Every time a boy is told “don’t act like a girl” and to suppress emotion, the seeds are planted for him to turn into a pressure cooker that’s bound to blow up and become the next Justin Mateen. And that happens to all boys everywhere, everyday. How does a problem rooted so deep get fixed?
i so agree with everything you wrote here. it is sooo deep rooted.
Thanks for posting. In Chicago we had a pretty big dustup over the way TechWeek promoted itself. Many women (and men) came out strongly against the “bro” attitude TechWeek espoused. To be honest, it is out of step with the culture of the Chicago tech scene which is as open and welcoming as any I have seen. It’s certainly A LOT different than the trading floor where I worked for 25 years!I have invested in women too and have had differing degrees of success. Women do have different challenges.For example, many people will tell you to avoid going to grad school or law school until you spent some time in the workforce to gain experience. But, if you are a woman, if you take that path you could be 30-33 by the time you got done with a grad degree. Then the choice might be have a baby or career. My wife alerted me to that with our daughters-so we told them to apply to grad school early if they wanted to choose that path. (Hey sometimes I am stupid.)I am glad we are talking about women in tech openly. I hope that we don’t turn it into an agenda that gets co-opted and we embrace the differences and then figure out ways to solve for them.
“The list is long but the most important reason is that I believe that the more women that rise to the top as successful entrepreneurs proving their businesses to be worthy investments the more women will be invested in.” YES. Could not agree more – it was my thesis too when I invested with women run hedge funds. As I got older, I like to think I got wiser and began to understand the power & importance of investing/voting with your pocketbook (even buying more art by women). Just imagine if more people got on this bandwagon 🙂
This is interesting to read, especially on the heels of Mark Suster’s recent post “Getting the Band Back Together”. His “band” that he referenced consisted of all men, which tracks for the point of his post – you want to work with people you have worked with before and you know. I totally get that; every cool opportunity that has ever come my way as come via people I have worked with before, and they’re the first I think of when I have an opportunity open myself.Given that, one of the best fallouts from supporting women in this field is that “the band” will become more representative of other groups. And the more women in the band, the more women who will remain in the culture and set a tone that is less accepting of the frat boy mentality.People act in abominable ways because they can get away with it. To your point, their mothers may be ashamed of their behavior, but their mother isn’t there calling them out on it… and no one else is, either. The more we can infuse the tech culture with individuals – not just investors, but peer level individuals- who won’t tolerate this type of behavior, the better off we’ll all be.
Peers calling out peers would be solid start
If this story took place five years ago, all the media write-ups would have been hand-wringing; e.g., why be surprisied that an environment of sexual harassment occurs in a company that makes a product whose primary use has been casual sexual encounters?The fact that I havent seen that article written yet is a small but positive step. The focus has been on the inappropriateness, yet pervasiveness, of boorish – if not illegal – behavior.[Though the cynic in me wonders if old school print media is just too old and married to understand what Tinder is.]
I’m a millenial at a new job in the corporate world, and for the first time in my life, I know I’ve experienced a form of sexism that feels uncomfortable. I’ve had no shortage of experiences where I was the only girl in the room or at least outnumbered, but I never before felt like I couldn’t do something or was excluded from the group. Naive perhaps, or lucky.The fratty culture has made me feel like I’m on the outside, trying too hard to be one of the guys and all that that entails. It’s costly to my morale and the workplace culture for us women, and I have yet to figure out what the solution is.I’m surprised Wolfe sued and interested to know more about her reasoning for doing so and whether she feared it would cost her down the line.
OK, so how is that working out as an investment strategy? What are your stats as a VC?
pretty good so far. in over 55 businesses over the last 8 years. 2 died, 2 exited quite well. Had have at least 12 companies go on to get their Series A and some Series B.
That is significantly higher than most averages I’ve seen. I asked another angel investor why he invested in women, and he said, “Because it’s good business.”
it is good business
Wow, finding this article very interesting, and way to go. I am here for the very purpose: for support for my tech startup which will see 50 youths get employment. My story is on YouTube at the following link: https://www.indiegogo.com/p… my startup company website is at the following link http://www.techservices4edu…
After working over 15 years in the mostly female dominated Beauty industry- I decided to join with 3 very talented (1 female, 2 male) cofounders to start a Fragrance e-commerce site. My team is wonderful but what I have quickly observed has shocked me. It’s the impunity with which this behavior is taking place and as you mention- it’s not just the “bro-culture” in the entrepreneurs, but how many investors condone and even encourage it- it’s that we’re young, we’re hip, we’re tech entrepreneurs, we don’t need to be PC… Youth and talent is no excuse
Youth and talent is absolutely no excuse
Thanks for posting. In Chicago we had a pretty big dustup over the way TechWeek promoted itself. Many women (and men) came out strongly against the “bro” attitude TechWeek espoused. To be honest, it is out of step with the culture of the Chicago tech scene which is as open and welcoming as any I have seen. It’s certainly A LOT different than the trading floor where I worked for 25 years! تنظيف مجالس بالرياض تسليك مجارى بالرياض تنظيف موكيت بالرياض شركة رش مبيد بالرياض شركة تنظيف كنب بالرياض عزل مائي تنظيف خزانات بالرياض مكافحة حشرات بالرياض شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام نقل عفش بالمدينة شركة تسليك مجارى بالرياض here here here here here here here here here
also I’ve also seen that if you have enough strong women founders in a cohort – like in Batch 9 of 500 Startups (40% Women founders, team members), “bros” automatically tone their crap talking down, are more respectful, are more sohbet chat genuine and are able to sidestep objectifying women. This batch has probably some of the best camaraderie between Men and Women working side by side.
Great to hear
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