Boston, Mass. (PRWEB) June 05, 2014
It’s no secret that men dominate the worlds of venture capital and technology. In fact, according to a 2012 Dow Jones study, just 1.3 percent of founders at privately held, venture-backed companies are women. And if that’s not disconcerting enough, consider this: In 2013, just 7 percent of all tech venture capital deals went to companies founded or led by women, while another study found that more than 50 percent of the nation’s top venture capital firms had no female partners on their investment teams.
The good news? Those numbers have improved slightly over the past few years. The bad news? Women are still woefully unrepresented in this space.
“The gap between male and female entrepreneurs (and investors) is improving, but not to the degree that I’d like to see,” says Maria Cirino, a founding partner at .406 Ventures and one of the few women who have led a tech company to a successful IPO. “Less than three percent of the pitches I hear are brought in by women, and I think it should be closer to 50 percent. Needless to say, we have a long way to go.”
This week, Boston-based VC OpenView Venture Partners announced a move that managing director Adam Marcus believes will help the firm take another step toward bridging the gender gap — adding Baiyin Zhou as the firm’s first female Associate on its investment team.
Interestingly, Zhou’s hire brings the ratio of female-to-male employees at OpenView to 47 percent (16 out of 34) — a data point Marcus says his firm takes pride in.
“We have a number of outstanding female leaders at OpenView, including Director of Growth Devon McDonald, Director of Talent Diana Martz, and CFO Bonnie Lewis,” Marcus says. “Specifically, Devon and Diana lead teams that help our portfolio companies scale post-investment in the areas of recruiting, sales, and marketing in our operational consulting arm, OpenView Labs. Adding Baiyin to our investment team furthers our commitment to closing the gender gap, and brings a fresh perspective to our investment team.”
While bringing that new perspective to the firm’s investment team was important, Marcus says the decision to hire Zhou had more to do with her experience investing in enterprise software companies and her passion for adding value to the entrepreneurs she works with. And that’s just how Zhou prefers it.
“I’m aware that women are a minority in the tech and VC world, however my focus has always been on becoming the best investor, operator, and advisor I can be,” Zhou says. “I don’t want to be labeled as a great female VC. I just want to be a great VC, and I think OpenView offers the perfect environment for me to cultivate that aspiration.”
Zhou goes on to say that she didn’t choose to come to OpenView because the firm seemed more inclusive or eager to hire women. Rather, she was drawn to its focus on investing in expansion stage companies and its unique value add platform, OpenView Labs.
That said, Zhou acknowledges the significance of being a female in a role that is traditionally dominated by men. If that means she can serve as a mentor or advisor to other female entrepreneurs or investors, Zhou says she’ll welcome the opportunity.
“I think most female founders and entrepreneurs are aware that they’re members of a very small fraternity,” Zhou says. “I think people like Maria (Cirino) have carved a path for women in tech to follow. The challenge now is to make sure those women have the opportunity to follow it or pave their own ways.”
About OpenView Venture Partners
OpenView Venture Partners is an expansion-stage venture capital fund based in Boston that is focused on high-growth software, Internet, and technology-enabled companies. Through its staff of seasoned operating executives, who collectively bring several decades of technology and management experience to the firm, OpenView is able to help portfolio companies quickly optimize their product, go-to-market, and organizational and operational functions. Founded in 2006, the firm invests globally and has approximately $440 million in total capital under management.