The following is a guest post by Tereza Nemessanyi, founder and CEO of Honestly Now Inc., a web and mobile social media platform which will release its beta product to the market in September. The opinions expressed are her own.
After decades investing in “white male nerds who’ve dropped out of Harvard or Stanford,” venture capitalist John Doerr broke a pattern in July: he invested in a woman.
Not that Kathy Savitt was a risky bet.
The former CEO of American Eagle Outfitters and a senior executive at Amazon, Savitt built Lockerz.com, a social networking and commerce site for ages 13 to 30. She grew it from 50 college and high school students to 15.5 million users in less than twelve months, leveraging natural networks of friends and social influence. In the web technology world, she’s a rock star.
Doerr, and his firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, are well-known for prescient, industry-leading investments including Google, Intuit, and Amazon. They estimate they’ve created 150,000 jobs.
But in an industry obsessed with placing bets based on what’s known as “pattern recognition,” women-led companies are funded less than 9% of the time. According to Shaherose Charania, this recently dropped as low as 3%. For women age 40+, the rates are even lower.