This post was originally published at Restructure!
â€œThat correlates more with any other success factor that Iâ€™ve seen in the worldâ€™s greatest entrepreneurs. If you look at Bezos, or [Netscape Communications Corp. founder Marc] Andreessen, [Yahoo Inc. co-founder] David Filo, the founders of Google, they all seem to be white, male, nerds whoâ€™ve dropped out of Harvard or Stanford and they absolutely have no social life. So when I see that pattern coming in â€” which was true of Google â€” it was very easy to decide to invest.â€
However, Sharon Vosmek believes that this is not an “overt” bias, but rather a “hidden” one. It is just how venture capitals work:
Sharon Vosmek, CEO of venture accelerator Astia doesnâ€™t think that VCs have an overt bias against women. Instead, itâ€™s the way the venture-capital industry operates. Vosmek says that these â€œsystematic or hidden biasesâ€ include:
- that VCs hold clear stereotypes of successful CEOs (they call it pattern recognition, but in other industries they call it profiling or stereotyping.) John Doerr publicly stated that his most successful investments â€“ and the no-brainer pattern for future investments â€“ were in founders who were white, male, under 30, nerds, with no social life who dropped out of Harvard or Stanford (2009 NVCA conference).
In other industries—and if uttered by someone without a university education—people would call it “sexism”, “racism”, and “ageism”, but not in the technology venture-capital industry. Doerr sees a racial, gender, age “pattern” in which startups are successful, but such “pattern recognition” is misleading when startups led by women, racial minorities, and people over thirty may be unsuccessful because they are discriminated against and denied funding. The pattern may be systemic bias, instead of the inherent superiority of white men (under thirty).
Statistics show that women-led high-tech startups have lower failure rates than those led by men, and that venture-backed companies run by a woman had higher annual revenues than the norm but used less committed capital. However, counterintuitive, abstract statistics are less convincing than intuitive, concrete anecdotes for white men who believe in the unique cleverness and hard-working character of white men.