Why I Am Still Pax Dickinson’s Co-Founder

Elissa_Pax_Women2_croppedWom2.0

Pax Dickinson’s co-founder explains why she went back to working with him despite his famously terrible Twitter behavior. 

By Elissa Shevinsky (Co-founder & CEO, Glimpse Labs)

I recently announced my return to privacy startup Glimpse. I had stepped down following concerns about Pax’s behavior on Twitter.

As part of my return, Glimpse is now a female-driven company. We’ve partnered with Women Innovate Mobile, brought Kelly Hoey onto our board and officially made me “Pax’s Ladyboss.” While most friends are supportive, some expressed disappointment. “Wouldn’t I be better off starting a new company, one without Pax Dickinson’s dirty laundry?”

Yes, I could always start a new company. But I’m CEO of a company with traction right now. For those of us who care about changing the ratio, don’t we want to see more women leading high-profile tech companies? Is our support conditional upon their situations being more ideal, or their values being more closely aligned with our own?

Glimpse is the company that I founded, the team that I built, and the vision that I love. Who knows what issues my next company might face? Entrepreneurs can’t wait for perfection because startups are inherently full of roadblocks. The best entrepreneurs keep going, even admist difficulties. We can’t afford to wait for perfect women to start perfect companies. Let’s support real women, leading real companies, right now.

The business of founding impactful companies is a messy one. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat all began with a mix of traction and drama. Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat all pushed out early founders. By those standards, Glimpse is off to a less dramatic start. Our original founding team is now intact!

I often think of Airbnb or Uber. Their services are actually illegal in some jurisdictions, and yet they are among the most valuable and most celebrated startups today.

So I reject the notion that Glimpse has too many issues to be worthwhile. The most successful social companies all had things to overcome in their early years. Our challenges have been more public, but having them does not make Glimpse distinctive.

I’m mostly struck by what hasn’t been challenging. We’re both incredibly strong personalities, and yet we manage to agree on the most important things at our company. Pax and I also have an incredibly strong alignment around company vision. We’re both committed to digital rights, to keeping Glimpse independent, and to bringing privacy to the mainstream.

Pax is the first co-founder I’ve had who did not ask me to become a quieter, tamer, more feminine version of myself. Can you imagine Pax Dickinson asking someone else to tone it down? There are good personal reasons  –  many of them feminist reasons, surprisingly – why I originally chose to work with such an outrageous personality.

Pax and I are certainly the odd couple of tech startups, but somehow we make it work. Startups succeed when founders manage to keep it together long enough to ship things people want. Pax and I built myfoia.com, weneedglimpse.com, patented new privacy tech, and just launched a Glimpse/LADYBOSS store.  We built a badass prototype running on iOS7. I can’t remember a time when I was more prolific. Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I was more happy. (Note – I’ve been actively building Glimpse since early November. Pax and I waited for some deals to close before announcing that I was returning.)

Yes, I could start a new company. But that’s not the right approach. Glimpse isn’t perfect, but that didn’t stop Facebook or Snapchat or Airbnb.

As for the critics who don’t see their values reflected in Glimpse – that’s ok. We need a diversity of female leaders, building all kinds of tech companies. That’s how we’ll create a diversity of role models. If we would like every young person to see themselves as potential leaders in tech, then we need to support a range of female-led companies. Not every company will inspire everyone. As long as Glimpse inspires some people – and we already see that it does – then it makes my role worthwhile.

We need to support real women leading real companies, right now. #LADYBOSS

23dd5beAbout the guest blogger: Elissa Shevinsky is an app developer and serial entrepreneur. Shevinsky cofounded Glimpse with Pax Dickinson, published “That’s It — I’m Finished Defending Sexism In Tech” and is now focusing on sexism in tech & privacy online.