I get asked a lot about competition when it comes to building Chairman Mom. Which is crazy if you think about it. Because there isn’t that much. I don’t say that like “Ooooh ho! No one can compete with us!” I say it in the most literal sense of the word. Because so few women are funded, new communities aimed at celebrating badass working women and badass moms aren’t even a rounding error when it comes to new company formation.
You guys know by now, I’m a massive fan of a lot of them: Ellevest, Bumble, Winnie, Maverick, to name a few. Sophia Amoruso’s Girlboss platform is entering the fray too, with a community for entrepreneurial Millennial women slated to launch sometime next year.
The Wall Street Journal has a story today on one of my favorite topics: Disney princesses. It centers around a scene in Ralph Breaks the Internet where a group of Disney princess are in pajamas and glasses and essentially mock all their marketing.
MORE SHOCKING, the scene breaks the cardinal Disney princess rule: They can’t coexist in the same universe. (According to the Journal, this is why on merchandise showing multiple princesses, they’re always looking into different points in the distance, not at one another.)
Silicon Valley libertarianism isn’t that different than the kind found in corners and pockets of, say, the rural South. (Take it from someone who has only lived in those two places)
Both frequently have sexist and xenophobic undertones. Neither want to pay taxes. Both may want drugs to be legal. Both may be into “prepping” even if the plans by Silicon Valley billionaires take on elaborate proportions. Because of the frequent insane net worth attached to Silicon Valley libertarianism, it frequently comes down to this: “As long as I’m fine, screw you.”
An exchange I had with a Chairman Mom member on this thread keeps playing through my mind. It speaks to a real challenge for Chairman Mom that I’ve been grappling with. We stand for two things as a company: Equality for everyone and respect for everyone’s point of view.
There’s a clear point those two conflict, and that’s around politics. I don’t want this community to have a political “stance.” But unfortunately, we live in a time where equality, women not getting sexually assaulted and being pro-immigrant and anti-KKK is a political stance.
Let me start this post by saying, I’m gonna pick on one investor who represents how thousands of them think, and that may be slightly unfair. Let me also say: If you have been lucky enough to make your own money and you chose to invest in founders, you have every right to do what you want with that money.
But for those of you who do think it’s bad for the industry and equality and the fairness in wealth creation in America that women are basically locked out of start-up creation, and for those of you who really do want to desperately believe that Silicon Valley is a meritocracy…THIS is the single biggest reason why women raise just 2.2% of all venture capital disbursed each year, and why women of color raise so much less.
I have spent MONTHS telling everyone that despite all the press around women linking arms in the tech world, groups like All Raise and Female Founder Office Hours, and VC firms being guilted into hiring more women…nothing is actually changing on the ground for female founders.
Half my friends in tech are female investors and half my friends are other female founders. The disconnect has been so clear: One side feels like things are changing and the other most certainly does not.
Finally data backs the founders up: Female CEOs once again raised just 2.2% of all venture capital. The exact same amount as last year. The amount they raised increased from $2 billion to $2.3 billion. But that can be easily buoyed up by the handful of lucky late stage companies getting large growth rounds.
As you know (because I say it possibly in every newsletter) the men who run industries like tech and finance do not care about data. They care about patterns. So we need to keep hammering them with data to expose this bias, and work to set new patterns. Founder by founder. CEO by CEO. VC by VC.
The next big IPO to help do that is Bumble, which is currently talking to bankers and eyeing a $1.1 billion valuation—a slight decrease from the $1.5 billion it was hoping for, according to Bloomberg.
There are few better narratives than Bumble for women in tech: Female co-founder is sexually harassed and written out of the company’s history, files a lawsuit and then leaves to launch a better version of the company. Refuses to sell to the original offending company despite outrageously high offers. Goes public on a wave of female dating empowerment.
In September, Betsy Ann Cowley opened up her home to our community. Her home is the town of Pulga, and we rented the entire town for a four day retreat with 100 women and absolutely no men—not even the staff.
One of the things that made the experience so magical was that the town itself was bought and rebuilt by women, by Betsy Ann and her friends. It was built to be a sanctuary.
I’ve had so many conversations with so many of you wishing we could go back…
Well, it looks like we’ll never be able to go back to the Pulga we experienced a few months ago. It has burned. The good news: Betsy Ann was not there. She was on her first vacation since buying Pulga. Which I’m grateful for, because she wouldn’t have left. Her dogs got out OK. The cats and chickens did not.
Say it with me, everyone: “Tech companies aren’t ruled by data, they are ruled by pattern recognition.”
This week, Harvard Business Review published more evidence that the masculine, always-crushing-it, toe-stepping, war-like culture that VCs so lionize as the only way to build a company is—SHOCKER!—the worst way to build a company.
From the report: “Why do companies get caught up in illegal behavior, harassment, and toxic leadership? Our research identifies an underlying cause: what we call a “masculinity contest culture.” This kind of culture endorses winner-take-all competition, where winners demonstrate stereotypically masculine traits such as emotional toughness, physical stamina, and ruthlessness. It produces organizational dysfunction, as employees become hyper competitive to win.”
If you want to feel elated, high, on fire for “the resistance” winning back the House, taking more control of state governments, and electing a record number of women to office, go elsewhere.
I’m not feeling elated, high, or on fire this morning.
I’m grateful it’s finally over after two years spent clinched, holding my breath, wondering if the soul of this nation is even more evil than I could have imagined. And I say that as a girl who grew up in the racist South with grandparents who used the N-word and a brother who later would fall in love with a Donald Trump presidency.