So yesterday I decided to send a quick email out to all the women VCs I know (probably about 40) to ask them to send me input for my blog, specifically ongoing reports of great accomplishments by their female VC brethren. I got a lot of nice notes saying they will keep it in mind, but only one note with an actual “input”, which was from Heidi Huntsman, now of Portola Street Advisors and previously of Utah Ventures. Heidi’s note to me said, in a nutshell, that the blog is going to be hard to fill with stories since the only story that came to her immediately was that 8 different women she knew had left the VC world in the last year. Thanks Heidi. Not.
We all know about how the field of venture capital is contracting generally (estimates are 15%-30% declines), but I hadn’t really stopped to think about how this is likely to disproportionately impact female partners, since so often they are at newer, less established firms, which are unfortunately the ones closer to the abyss. For those older, more established firms that decide to downsize, the newer partners (as in some chance they might be female) are often the first to go. In 2008 the NVCA did a survey that found that 14% of VC partners are women, but I bet that if they did that survey again today the number would have declined.
It’s a funny thing, since we have also recently had a huge leap forward in chick power in the VC world with the election of Kate Mitchell as Chairman of the NVCA. Serving alongside her are two additional female board members, Diana Frazier of FLAG Capital Management and Theresia Gouw Ranzetta of Accel Partners. That’s only 3 of 28 Board and Executive Committee members, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Also, I have recently been to the Women’s Private Equity Summit, held annually in Half Moon Bay, CA, and it is a veritable sea of smart women, probably over 350 in all, from venture and private equity. There was a pretty funny moment at that conference where I was sitting in the giant ballroom watching a panel and I realized that literally the only man in the room was the event photographer. Considering the composition of the typical meeting I attend, it was kind of surreal—a bit like going to Nordstrom on women’s shoe sale day and seeing that one pathetic guy sitting, sad and lonely, in the gratuitous husband chair.
After many years publishing their Midas List of the “best global investors in tech and life sciences,” Forbes did not publish one for 2009. In 2007 and 2008 there were 5 women out of 100 on the list. It will be interesting to see what the list looks like if they do one for 2010.
In any event, I am going with the Scarlet O’Hara “tomorrow is another day” approach and hoping to soon see an email box overflowing with evidence of the exploits of my y-chromosome-challenged colleagues. If you are reading this, please remember to pass along the stories you hear so I can include them.