Last December, Sequoia Capital chairman, Michael Morris told a reporters his tech venture capital firm would “never lower our standards” to hire female partners. (“The Girl with the Gadget Tattoo,” by Erin Griffith, Fortune, June 15, 2016, pg. 68.) Given that women are heavy users of social media as well as inveterate internet shoppers, the chairman’s condescending attitude toward half the world’s population is breathtaking. Unfortunately, his ignorance is common in an industry where women rarely have a seat at the table and few of their venture capital proposals get serious attention. (Blog 7/18/16)
As writer Erin Griffin points out, while the titans of venture capitalism are sleeping, women are beating wonks at trendy startups like Thesis, a company dedicated to designing comfortable high heels. (Ibid pg. 68.) If they succeed, the shoe industry will be hit with a tsunami of demand. Goodbye Christian Louboutin, designer of corns, ingrown toenails and bunions.
Men don’t see a place for women in tech because they spend most of their time with other male techies. Unbeknownst to them, women are really into technology. They build more blogs than men, engage in social networking in greater numbers, play mobile games more than men and, perhaps sadly, they check their smart phones more than their counterparts. But the jewel in a woman’s crown is that she’s likely “to influence more spending decisions than anyone else in [her] household.” (Ibid pg. 68.) If Eve doesn’t know what the market wants, Adam hasn’t a clue.
One venture capital company, BBG, knows the commercial link between technology and women. Susan Lyne, chairwoman of her company, won’t invest in a startups unless it has at least one woman founder. She understands it would be a mistake to think a woman on the board lowers standards.