“Thoughts & Prayers” Won’t Change VC Diversity But Incentives Will. Thoughts on Female Founders Office Hours.
I hope some male VCs got scared yesterday, and if they didn’t, they should. Seeing Jess Lee of Sequoia bring together a group of amazing female investors as part of Female Founders Office Hours isn’t just about empowering women. It’s about keeping firms who don’t have female investing partners out of this dealflow. That’s not the stated intent of FFOH, which is about relationships and kicking off a “virtuous cycle of women helping women,” but hopefully a secondary effect of this group. And I think that’s great.
I’ve joked that if VCs found diversity as interesting as crypto we’d make much faster progress on solving gender and underrepresentation in our industry. VCs are market-driven — they’ll move towards opportunity with high velocity. Similarly they’ll seek to solve existential threats, otherwise they’re in the business of offense, not defense. Homebrew, my seed fund, doesn’t have a female GP — it’s just me and my cofounder. And even thought so far we’ve funded female founders at a rate 5x industry average (26% of our core investments have at least one female founder vs 5% of all VC-backed companies), we know we have some liability from being two dudes.
So you want to get more women into GP positions at VCs? Well, then continue to increase the stakes of *not* having a woman at your firm. And to me, FFOH is a positive push in that direction because it creates another centralized pool of talent your male GPs can’t access. And that’s how VC changes. Not by diversity “thoughts and prayers,” but by incentives.