By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0) A post by Whitney Hess is making the rounds in New York's circle of women entrepreneurs in technology titled "The plain numbers about women in tech – The VCs".
She takes an empirical look at the gender ratio of venture capital firms focusing on early-stage funding, that have funded over "brand name" startups, and have funds worth over $100 million.
Here are the more positive numbers for VC firms funding high-profile early-stage startups:
- Accel Partners: 4 women investors out of 40 (10%)
- Greycroft Partners: 2 women investors out of 6 investors (33%)
- Kleiner Perkins Cauield & Byers: 10 women investors out of 44 (23%)
- Sequoia Capital: 10 women investors out of 62 (16%) all women are in the India and China locations
Whitney listed 25 VC firms with additional details, and only 4 firms listed have over 15% women in their investment teams. Now 4 out of 25 firms is 16%. Think about that - 16% of notable VC firms funding early-stage startups have 15%+ women in their investment teams.
Before early-stage women entrepreneurs psych themselves out of seeking venture funding and remain at their day jobs forever, Whitney lists the venture firms targeted to women. These funds are much smaller - all "well under $100 million and are generally recognized as angel investors" (compared to the high-profile firms above with funds worth over $100 million):
- Golden Seeds: 8 women investors out of 10 (80%)
- Women's Venture Capital Fund: 3 women investors out of 3 (100%)
- Belle Capital: 10 women investors out of 11 (91%)
- JumpThru: 1 woman investor out of 1 (100%) Joanne Wilson: 1 woman investor out of 1 (100%)
OK so there is hope, and places for women entrepreneurs to seek women investors if desired.
Now what I find the most interesting are the VC firms who "buck the trend" - these are VC firms with funds worth over $100 million that aren't explicitly targeting women-led startups and reach gender parity in their investment teams:
- Starvest Partners: 5 women investors out of 6 (83%)
- DBL Investors: 5 women investors out of 8 (63%)
What is that? The future? StarVest partner Deborah Farrington wrote a guest blog post on Women 2.0 about how to How More Women Can Get A Seat On The Board And Lead It To Success.
I interviewed to DBL Investors' Managing Director Cynthia Ringo last year about women-led firms and solving big problems in a conversation where she said:
"I started my high tech career as an IP lawyer, then worked at startups. The first one was a relational database system that was aimed at decision-support as opposed to online transaction processing. And the second was to enable the carrying of voice over DSL lines. These were big ideas, and I think that’s the biggest challenge that we see on a routine basis, which doesn’t mean we don’t see women with big ideas -— we do, and we fund them! If we see a big idea, first we judge the idea, and then the fact it’s women-led to us is the cherry on the sundae."
Seeking a billion dollar company, venture capital firms by definition must seek the startups with the largest markets, market maturity/timing, etc.
Can your early-stage startup anticipate hitting such high numbers?
On a related note, Elizabeth Knopf has a good analysis of venture capital investments in e-commerce plays with some solid insights on venture capital's take on the current trend of funding e-commerce startups. It's worth a read.
And if you have read down this far, do check out Whitney's blog post about "selling the product, not making it" regarding the majority of positions that women occupy in tech startups.
I don't need to tell you why it's important to have women involved in building products...
To meet the who's who of venture-funded women in tech who have built great products, check out Women 2.0's fifth annual PITCH Conference & Competition on February 14, 2012 in Mountain View, CA.
Photo credit: Grant Hollingworth on Flickr. About the guest blogger: Angie Chang co-founded Women 2.0 in 2006 with Shaherose Charania. She currently serves as Editor-In-Chief of Women 2.0 and is working to mainstream women in entrepreneurship. Previously, Angie held roles in product management, web UI design, and entrepreneurship. In 2008, Angie launched Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, asking that guys come as the "+1" for once. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.