XX in Tech

Our Favorite Startups From Women’s Demo Night, Hosted by New York Tech Meetup and Change the Ratio

Jeanne Pinder, the founder and CEO of Clear Health Costs and Jessica Lawrence, managing director of NYTM at the second Women's Demo Night.

“How different is this room right now, in terms of the percentages of women versus men?” Jessica Lawrence, the managing director of New York Tech Meetup asked the audience at the second Change the Ratio and NYTM Women’s Demo night on Tuesday. She had a point. The crowd gathered at Facebook’s Midtown offices to watch women-run founders demo their startups was diverse in terms of age, race, and ethnicity, yet predominately female.

Ms. Lawrence kicked off the evening by confessing that, even as the event’s organizer and a former Girl Scouts CEO, she had mixed feelings about the self-selecting event. “In some ways,” she said, “having a whole separate stage just for women sometimes kind of defeats the purpose.” Read More

All The Startup Ladies

Damn, Girl: New York Has Almost Double The Female Founders

((flickr.com/flickr4jazz)

Much has been made of tech’s gender divide, with the seeming consensus being that this industry is something of a sausagefest and no one knows how to fix it. But buried within this TechCrunch report, drawing on statistics from Startup Genome, is an eye-catching little factoid: Compared to Silicon Valley and London (which are running at 80:20 versus 90:10 ratios), New York has almost double the rate of female founders. Read More

The Daily Muse, Riding Big Growth, Preps For Y Combinator

Kathryn Minshew

Kathryn Minshew never had much luck with tech incubators. “My first company I applied to a whole bunch and got rejected.” So with her new venture, The Daily Muse, a content and career site for young professional women, Ms. Minshew was planning to skip the applications and focus on bootrapping her firm. “If it wasn’t for Rachel Sklar and her post about getting your name out there, I never would have applied to Y Combinator.” (That Sklar, always changing the ratio and changing minds.)

The Daily Muse decided to apply and prepped with  local YC alumni. “There is a very specific culture and interview process at Y Combinator. It’s like a college, you need to know the culture.”

Boom, accepted, which means another thing on their already very full plates. “We just had 100 percent growth month over month in our traffic. We’re trying to hire new staffers. Now add moving to California into the mix,” said Ms. Minshew.  Read More

Girl Problems

Charlie Hit On Me! One Silicon Alley VC’s Quest for Love and Other Startups

Illustration by Paul Kisselev.

Charlie O’Donnell has long eyelashes, an athletic build and a shiny shaved head: a 32-year-old in his prime working at one of the most highly-respected startup investment firms in New York, First Round Capital. The kayaking enthusiast and devotee of the fitness Bible The 4-Hour Body is known to broadcast his nine-mile cycling commute on Twitter, where he goes by @ceonyc, a reference to his initials.

A power networker, Mr. O’Donnell has made himself a fixture at tech parties in search of the next Mark Zuckerberg, or as it were, the next Margaret. Trouble is, he’s also looking for the next Mrs. O’Donnell.

“For men, if we are single, any single female that we are hanging out with has the potential, at least at first, to be a potential date,” Mr. O’Donnell wrote in 2004 on his popular blog, This Is Going To Be Big. “But for girls, you never really know. You can be doing all of the dating type stuff… showing interest, asking them out, etc… and they’ll seemingly go along with the whole thing, until the point that you’re sitting across from them and you realize, ‘Hey… wait a second… this isn’t a date at all!’”

Business and pleasure often mix in the Silicon Alley startup scene, where investors are known to karaoke with their portfolio companies. By now, everyone knows a pitch and a drink can be one and the same—but what about a pitch and a date? With more women on the tech scene, uncertainty is increasingly common.

“I once scheduled a meeting with someone and it turned out to be a date,” one well-connected female techie told Betabeat. That someone was Mr. O’Donnell. One female founder was “asked out to dinner on the pretense of it being a meeting, but it turned out to be a date” with a local venture capitalist, who followed up with an extended series of flirtatious text messages. That man also turned out to be Mr. O’Donnell. In fact, Mr. O’Donnell’s name came up repeatedly in the course of reporting a more general story about women in tech.

Even so, there are far more nefarious scoundrels on the scene. Betabeat heard some stories of other investors that sounded like fodder for Mad Men. “I’ve even heard of VCs trying to sleep with their potential female investees,” said one female founder who used to live in New York and now lives in the Bay Area. “Pretty sketchy stuff.” One woman who organizes tech events said she was stalked for years by a consultant who stopped only after her brother intervened; one female founder met with a Silicon Valley investor who followed up with an invitation to his hotel room via a midnight text message—“and he was married!” Read More

XX in Tech

Doing It for Themselves: 25 Women Driving New York’s Tech Scene

26 Photos

Jennifer Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman

Women in the start-up world are outnumbered by men—we know this—and most of them tend to be later-stage employees in support roles, like marketing, public relations and office management.

But we’ve noticed a trend in the New York tech scene: a strong surge of women in tech who are, well, just doing it. They’re starting companies without worrying about how male-dominated the VC-funded web start-up space is. They live and breathe the scene the way their male counterparts do, and many are just as rash, obnoxious and aggressive.

Some of them are working to bring more women into tech, but mostly they choose to ignore the industry’s male-dominated tradition altogether, shrugging off the threat of sexism. Many seem not to notice when they’re pitching to a room full of men; some notice, and don’t care, or notice and care, but do it anyway.

These women are the future angel investors, powerhouse VCs, public company CEOs and start-up mafiosa. For now they’re working 100-hour weeks and organizing events via Meetup.com, but–every day–they’re hustling. Here’s a predictive power list of 25 women to watch in New York.

Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke, Olivia Fialkow and Emily Foxhall contributed reporting. Read More

The Pollyanna

Are You Kidding Me? The Ratio Rocks.

social network pollyanna

So I’ve been hanging out in the New York tech scene for a couple months, and I realized something: There’s way more guys than girls! Has anyone else noticed this?

I first noticed that all the CEOs were guys. Then I noticed that all the people at hackathons were guys. Then I realized that all the VCs are guys! Then, I got on a bus and it was all guys. Some staff members of some start-ups are girls, though, and some tech bloggers are also girls.

I know some people out there feel that this gender imbalance is bad for some reason, but I just wanted to take this moment to talk about how lucky it makes me feel to be one of a few girls in the tech scene. Read More