The Moral Compass of Investing

I will always be curious and befuddled on why VCs make certain investments.  What was if that they saw in a business or founder to make them write a massive check?  

The other thing I wonder about is the VCs that spend time with the competition of the company they are going to invest in absorbing all that information before turning those companies down to invest in when they knew all along they were not going to invest in them.  What they were really doing is accumulating knowledge for the one they had already committed to.

As much as the ROI has shown that diversity works or that the conversation around investing in women has amplified there are still a large group of investors who toss money at the people on the other side of the table that look and feel just like them.  White males with swagger.  It’s just not a good look.  

There is something about that swagger that gets huge capital without much there.  It is one of my biggest frustrations in the world of investments.  As an angel putting capital into a business and a founder that I believe in and not being able to convince a VC to see what I see is disheartening.  I know it’s just part of the business but still.  Perhaps they look at what I invest in and shake their heads.

Women don’t behave in that matter, aka they don’t swagger.  The majority of us don’t have that “bro” behavior.  I believe we are going to have a downturn and lots of capital will be lost but unfortunately, I don’t think it will change the investing thesis or moral compass of many of these investors.  There has been so much conversation in the tech world about these investors but it still continues.  Maybe we just don’t call them out enough?  These days I am wondering if anything will ever change

Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    Anthropology. Women don’t swagger, but i’m convinced that some women deliberately cultivate voices that they deploy in public that sound deeper and more masculine than seems at all natural. Margaret Thatcher did it. No names, but i saw a recent web tech video discussion between several women and i’m absolutely convinced that one of the participants was putting on a voice for impact and gravitas. P.S. I’ve been told that Henry Kissinger speaks in private with a standard Midwestern American accent. Everyone’s gaming our gullibility. Anthropology.

    1. Gotham Gal

      True true

      1. jason wright

        “gullibility” – we want to believe in people. It’s a natural condition. Unfortunately certain character types seek to exploit that ‘vulnerability’. It’s a disappointing reality of the social mix. I have to stay away from people like that. They irritate me too much, and i find that a little bit draining. Some of them have other talents, but it’s just not worth it.

    2. JLM

      .Little bit of regional flavor.In the United States South, there is a species of women unparalleled in the rest of the country. The Southern woman of class and breeding (Fried Green Tomatoes, Steel Magnolias of the former plantation aristocracy) is a force with which to be reckoned. [The kind of women who run debutante presentations and know how to do it as they themselves were debutantes. Being a deb, debbing well, is second only to marrying well.]They bring out the gentlemanliness in a man meaning that they place any man in his proper position within the universe. They are the kind of women who walk up to a door and wait for just long enough that a man darts over and opens it for her as if she were incapable of doing it for herself. It is a super power that doesn’t exist in any other part of the US.The American Civil War was started by men trying to impress these women.While some of it may be hereditary, much of it is a learned response. When you go to a military school in the South (mois), you are taught hand-to-hand combat, boxing, dancing, and how to please such women (a fleeting happenstance).I might be a little biased as I am married to one.These women do not have “swagger”. They have command control.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. jason wright

        presence and stagecraft?

        1. JLM

          .Of course. It also is important to look good in shades.The red head is My Perfect Daughter, co-founder of Weezie, with her support team and training staff.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca… https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  2. LE

    I also don’t personally like ‘that look’ and ‘that swagger’ either. It’s a turn off to me as a man. Maybe because I am not a big guy and into sports. Maybe because I am not tall, dark and handsome like the teams on some of those VC pages that I have seen.As it happened I got my first big contract in business from 3 women. One VP of procurement, one senior purchasing agent and one top admin (to the President). Bidding against me for the contract were the top sales people from Xerox that had that swagger for sure. Tall, dark, handsome, professional and very well paid (early 80’s they made over $100k a year).Although I’ve thought about this over the years many times, until I read your post today never had I thought of it in that way. That the women who took a chance on me perhaps did so because they were turned off by the ‘professional salesman in suits’ (I was in a down vest at the time). Later when they were in a board meeting deciding on whether to keep us after the initial trial period, it was the three women who got up and said ‘yes this is good let’s keep them’ (Not exact words but that is what I heard happened).

    1. Gotham Gal

      Interesting how people react to different. I like it

  3. meredithcollinz

    Investing in people not like themselves feels riskier, so in a downturn, I can only imagine it will become even more difficult for diverse founders to get funding. I think only more women investors will truly change the dynamic, and it’s nice to see there are more and more.

    1. Gotham Gal

      You could be right. Women are definitely going to change politics so let’s hope the same goes for start ups

      1. meredithcollinz

        Yes, that part of politics is super exciting!! The rest is mind-boggling ;~)) Fingers crossed for startups!

        1. lisa hickey

          The cross-over with what is happening with politics is part of the bright star. The diversity of people running for Congress in the recent election happened because 1) People knew the importance of making change 2) People who ran felt supported. 3) Money was able to come in through unlikely sources. Change is slow because a lot of people don’t want change and are actively working against it. But it really is up to us to keep it going. More diversity of investors, more diversity of Board Members, more diversity of start up teams. More attention to the issues. Better understanding of the benefits, not just to the company itself, but to the world at large. I am so grateful for everyone on this post discussing this.

  4. awaldstein

    I’m a believer that it is and will continue to change. Not fast enough but it is happening.I love the fact that the diversity of the people will create a new language around the people involved as the personalities will be as diverse both within and without of the gender differences.We are constantly moving in and out of prejudices and preconceptions. I’m just happy to see us cracking the old one without a real idea of the one that is happening.I’ve always had a biased view of this as I was fortunate to work around the earliest super powerful women in the valley. There were few but they were a force and lucky me for learning from them.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Lucky you to witness it.

    2. lisa hickey

      Thank you.

  5. JLM

    .”White males with swagger.”I wonder if I should tell y’all this, but even amongst white males with swagger, there is a hunter/killer class.There is no more “swagger” class than the Army. In my day, a small portion of the Army was in the combat arms — infantry, combat engineers, armor, artillery. These are the guys who do the fighting and dying. Everybody else works to support the combat arms.When you would go into a bar, say the Fort Benning Officers Club, you would see the hunter/killer class at work.Benning is the home of the Infantry School, Airborne School, Ranger School, 75th Ranger Regiment.Benning is also home to basic training for the infantry and armor.When you go into the bar — there used to be a separate bar for Lts and Cpts — everybody studies everybody’s uniform to see where they’ve been, what they’ve done, what their MOS is, what ribbons for valor they’ve received. Check if you have a combat patch on. See if you’re a paratrooper or a Ranger.When they take a look, they evaluate you. If you have the “stuff” they make a hole at the bar for you.There are also tons of lieutenants and captains assigned to the basic training units — low prestige grunt work. Ugh.I was only at Benning for Airborne and Ranger schools, so when I arrived I had no “stuff” but by the time I left I had jump wings and a Ranger tab. So, I had stuff.Your brother officers reacted completely different. If you had a CIB, jump wings, Ranger tab, combat patch, and were assigned to the Ranger Regiment — you always got a hole cut for you at the bar. The first beer was always on somebody else who knew you from somewhere else.It is a male thing and it is real. Sometimes, we “white males with swagger” can’t help ourselves. It is ingrained.Hell, now I’m going to get drummed out of the club. Rats.In the end, it will only matter what you actually do. None of the other stuff will matter.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…