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With Y Combinator’s biannual Demo Day coming up on August 19, the startup accelerator has a pressing matter on its mind: preventing sexual harassment between investors and founders.
In a blog post titled “A Reminder to Investors” published earlier this afternoon, founding partner Jessica Livingston warned that “inappropriate sexual or romantic behavior from investors toward founders” would lead to Y Combinator “not [continuing] to work with you.”
A freelance coder was eating lunch in downtown Toronto yesterday when she claimed she overheard some IBM executives casually discussing why they don’t hire women. Like any sensible tech professional who supports gender equality, self-proclaimed feminist activist Lyndsay Kirkham live-tweeted the entire alleged affair.
Sex in the Valley
Here’s an interesting take on why Twitter is suddenly giving the finger to API devs: “I suspect the reason that Twitter is cutting off apps from using its ‘friend finder’ feature is because most people do not create content in Twitter and therefore have no incentive to use Twitter outside of the value of its graph.” [Dustin Curtis]
Fred Wilson thinks venture capital funds have grown too big and has some ideas on how to fix them. [Technology Review]
There are fewer and fewer women in Google’s inner circle, so the GOOG engineers dealt with it the only way they know how: by building a predictive algorithm to help them recruit and retain more female employees. [New York Times]
Turns out the freemium model is not exactly free for businesses. [Wall Street Journal]
Here’s why the FTC let Facebook buy Instagram. (Hint: ’cuz Facebook Camera sucks.) [TechCrunch]
Sex in the Valley
Ellen Pao’s gender discrimination case: Still headed for the courtroom. Eventually. Maybe.
When last we checked in with the legal wrangling over Ellen Pao’s gender discrimination suit against Kleiner Perkins, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn had rejected the storied VC firm’s arguments for arbitration but invited the firm to ask again in a hearing scheduled for today.
But it sounds like Kleiner’s legal representatives couldn’t quite close the deal. Reuters reports that, rather than ruling, Judge Kahn told Kleiner Perkins he didn’t buy their arguments and added that they had the option of appealing if they wanted.
It's a Zuck Zuck Zuck Zuck World
When VC firm Kleiner Perkins filed its response to partner Ellen Pao’s gender discrimination suit (nearly a month ago now), included in the flurry of legal documents were requests to require Ms. Pao to submit to binding arbitration.
Now the Mercury News reports that the presiding judge has spoken–tentatively, at least–and she’ll be required to do no such thing. Kleiner argued that partners signed arbitration agreements with each of the firm’s new funds; Ms. Pao’s lawyer rejoined that only an umbrella agreement would do, and his logic apparently carried the day.
Of course, we should also note that lawyers for both sides are still due at a hearing today, where Kleiner has a chance to try talking the judge into reversing his ruling. Maybe somebody’s got an ace up his sleeve?
Katherine Losse started at Facebook in 2005–before the NewsFeed, before the arrival of Sheryl Sandberg, and long before the Zuck quite mastered proper corporate executive behavior. Things were so fast and loose that, during orientation for her user-support gig, she was given a master password allowing her to access any user’s profile and personal information. Nor was there anyone handling potential HR crises like a male employee who apparently went around proposing threesomes to women in the office.
Ms. Losse details these antics in her new book, The Boy Kings, about her time at the social network. Curious to hear more, we reached out for an interview. She didn’t seem too keen to dish on Zuck beyond what she’d already included in the book (more’s the pity), but she did have some stuff to say about where social networking is headed, why Facebook was so damn fratty, and what it was like being a humanities girl in a programmer’s castle.
What was the most challenging part of your role as Mark’s personal writer?
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Tereza Nemessanyi, founder of Honestly Now, an online Q&A forum, brought her elementary school-aged daughter along to a tech demo that she said was unlike most others she has been to.
“Last time I demoed was January 2011,” Ms. Nemessanyi said. “I brought my daughter with me and she asked me ‘mommy, why is it all boys?’”
Well that certainly wasn’t the case this time. Last night, more than 100 tech-savvy women (and a few guys) filled rows of chairs in a large room in the Microsoft building in midtown to participate in the first-ever Read More
What Is This I Can't Even
Just because wisdom is conventional doesn’t mean it’s right, and just because dudes 18 to 25 are considered the prized tech demographic doesn’t mean it’s true. The Atlantic dug up a recent talk by Intel researcher Genevieve Bell, and it turns out that women are pretty much the customers you want to have on lock. And people wonder why Pinterest has a great big Scrooge McDuck-style cache of venture capital cash.
Ms. Bell has shared several interesting nuggets, including that women in Western countries use the Internet 17 percent more per month; they spend more time talking on their mobile phones (hold your stereotyped jokes, please); and they’re the biggest users of every social networking site that’s not LinkedIn. Also, “Women are the vast majority owners of all internet enabled devices–readers, healthcare devices, GPS.”
XX in Tech
The old Grey Lady sure has outdone herself. Today the New York Times treated us to “Bachelorville’s Big Fish,” about the Valley’s population of wealthy, eligible bachelors who, it is universally acknowledged, must be in want of a wife. Even better: It’s complete with a slideshow by the oh-my-God-are-you-serious name of “Dating Profiles of High-Tech, High-Worth Bachelors.” We’re sure that many of these gentlemen are lovely, but really?
Rather than get our knickers in a twist re: gold-digging and its inherent objectionability, we’ve decided to take a different tack and respond to each “dating profile” with a popular song. To wit:
Yesterday Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg returned to her twice-over alma mater (undergrad and grad degrees) to give a commencement speech at Harvard Business School. And no, she did not deign to discuss the company’s rather messy IPO, thank you very much. Instead she talked about, among other things, the tech world’s gender imbalance. Perhaps she also caught the livestream of yesterday’s venture capital panel at TechCrunch Disrupt?