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Y Combinator survey confirms what we already know — female founders are too often victims of sexual harassment

Y Combinator has released the results of a survey, completed in partnership with its portfolio company Callisto, highlighting the pervasive role of sexual harassment in venture capital and technology startups. Callisto, a sexual misconduct reporting software built for victims, is a graduate of YC’s winter 2018 class. The company sent a survey to 125 of YC’s 384 female founders, asking if they had been “assaulted or coerced by an angel or VC investor in their startup career.” Eighty-eight female founders completed the survey; 19 in total claimed to have experienced some form of harassment. More specifically, 18 said that inappropriate experience consisted of “unwanted sexual overtures;” 15 said it was “sexual coercion;” four said it was “unwanted sexual contact.” As part of the release of the survey findings, YC announced they’ve established a formal process for their founders to report harassment and assault within Bookface, the startup accelerator’s private digital portal for its founders. “You can report at any time, even years after the incident took place,” YC wrote in the blog post. “The report will remain confidential. We encourage other investors to set up similar reporting systems.” First Round Capital is another investor to recently poll its founders on issues of sexual misconduct. Similarly, the early-stage investor found that half of the 869 founders polled were harassed or knew a victim of workplace harassment. As for Callisto, the 7-year-old non-profit said it will launch Callisto for founders, a new tool that will support victims. Using Callisto, founders can record the identities of perpetrators in the tech and VC industry. The company will collect the information and refer victims to a lawyer who will provide free advice and the option to share their information with other victims of the same perpetrator. From there, victims can decide if they want to go public together with their accusations. Tech’s widespread sexual harassment problem is not new, but more women and victims of harassment have come forward in recent years as the #MeToo movement encourages them to name their harassers. Justin Caldbeck, formerly of Binary Capital, and former SoFi chief executive officer Mike Cagney are among…

Ne-Yo wants to make Silicon Valley more diverse, one investment at a time

Dressed in a Naruto t-shirt and a hat emblazoned with the phrase “lone wolf,” Ne-Yo slouches over in a chair inside a Holberton School classroom. The Grammy-winning recording artist is struggling to remember the name of “that actor,” the one who’s had a successful career in both the entertainment industry and tech investing. “I learned about all the things he was doing and I thought it was great for him,” Ne-Yo told TechCrunch. “But I didn’t really know what my place in tech would be.” It turns out “that actor” is Ashton Kutcher, widely known in Hollywood and beyond for his role in several blockbusters and the TV sitcom That ’70s Show, and respected in Silicon Valley for his investments via Sound Ventures and A-Grade in Uber, Airbnb, Spotify, Bird and several others. Ne-Yo, for his part, is known for a string of R&B hits including So Sick, One in a Million and Because of You. His latest album, Good Man, came out in June. Ne-Yo, like Kutcher, is interested in pursuing a side gig in investing but he doesn’t want to waste time chasing down the next big thing. His goal, he explained, is to use his wealth to encourage people like him to view software engineering and other technical careers as viable options. “Little black kids growing up don’t say things like ‘I want to be a coder when I grow up,’ because it’s not real to them, they don’t see people that look like me doing it,” Ne-Yo said. “But tech is changing the world, like literally by the day, by the second, so I feel like it just makes the most sense to have it accessible to everyone.” Last year, Ne-Yo finally made the leap into venture capital investing: his first deal, an investment in Holberton School, a two-year coding academy founded by Julien Barbier and Sylvain Kalache that trains full-stack engineers. The singer returned to San Francisco earlier this month for the grand opening of Holberton’s remodeled headquarters on Mission Street in the city’s SoMa neighborhood. Holberton, a proposed alternative to a computer science degree, is free to students until they graduate and land a job,…

VCs say Silicon Valley isn’t the gold mine it used to be

In the days leading up to TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018, The Economist published the cover story, ‘Why Startups Are Leaving Silicon Valley.’ The author outlined reasons why the Valley has “peaked.” Venture capital investors are deploying capital outside the Bay Area more than ever before. High-profile entrepreneurs and investors, Peter Thiel, for example, have left. Rising rents are making it impossible for new blood to make a living, let alone build businesses. And according to a recent survey, 46 percent of Bay Area residents want to get the hell out, an increase from 34 percent two years ago. Needless to say, the future of Silicon Valley was top of mind on stage at Disrupt. “It’s hard to make a difference in San Francisco as a single entrepreneur,” said J.D. Vance, the author of ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ and a managing partner at Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Fund, which backs seed-stage companies based outside Silicon Valley. “It’s not as a hard to make a difference as a successful entrepreneur in Columbus, Ohio.” In conversation with Vance, Revolution CEO Steve Case said he’s noticed a “mega-trend” emerging. Founders from cities like Pittsburgh, Detroit or Portland are opting to stay in their hometowns instead of moving to U.S. innovation hubs like San Francisco. “The sense that you have to be here or you can’t play is going to start diminishing.” “We are seeing the beginnings of a slowing of what has been a brain drain the last 20 years,” Case said. “It’s not just watching where the capital flows, it’s watching where the talent flows. And the sense that you have to be here or you can’t play is going to start diminishing.” J.D. Vance says that most entrepreneurs don’t need to move to Silicon Valley. Here’s why. #TCDisrupt — TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) September 6, 2018 Farewell, San Francisco “It’s too expensive to live here,” said Aileen Lee, the founder of seed-stage VC firm Cowboy Ventures, amid a conversation with leading venture capitalists Spark Capital general partner Megan Quinn and Benchmark general partner Sarah Tavel . “I know that there are a lot of people in the Bay…

Uber’s chief diversity officer is coming to TechCrunch Disrupt 2018

At TechCrunch Disrupt 2018, Uber’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Bo Young Lee will be joining us to talk about the ride-sharing company’s efforts to put detoxify its corporate culture and promote a more inclusive environment for employees. Lee was hired as the company’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer this past January, after leaving insurance company Marsh LLC where she held a similar role. Uber has obviously had its fair share of issues with fostering an inclusive culture, they’ve made some public efforts to showcase that the company was making active efforts to promote internal change and they seem to at least be having a more peaceful 2018 than 2017 — in terms of news surrounding the company’s culture. Nevertheless, there has still been plenty of movement surrounding diversity at the company even after Lee’s hire. Uber has hired a chief diversity officer In April, the company released its first diversity report under new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi showing some slight improvements with the percentage of female employees (38 percent) at the company, while there was a slight drop in black representation and a bump in Latinx representation. In June, the company’s Chief Brand Officer Bozoma Saint John left the company, noting in an interview with TechCrunch that Uber had made some improvements but still had work to do. “I’m not saying the corporate culture has righted itself 100 percent,” John said. “Or it’s where it needs to be today. It isn’t. There’s still a lot to be done in that regard.” In July, the company’s Chief People Officer Liane Hornsey, whom Lee reported to, resigned from the company following a racial discrimination investigation that targeted how the executive was handling complaints. There’s obviously plenty to talk about in terms of the company’s own diversity efforts, we’re also looking forward to picking Lee’s brain about broader trends around inclusion in the tech industry and where her cautious optimism lies. Disrupt SF will take place in San Francisco’s Moscone Center West from September 5 to 7. The full agenda is here, and you can still buy tickets right here.

How Silicon Valley should celebrate Labor Day

Ask any 25-year old engineer what Labor Day means to him or her, and you might get an answer like: it’s the surprise three-day weekend after a summer of vacationing. Or it’s the day everyone barbecues at Dolores Park. Or it’s the annual Tahoe trip where everyone gets to relive college. Or simply, it’s the day we get off because we all work so hard. And while founders and employees in startup land certainly work hard, wearing their 80-hour workweeks as a badge of honor, closing deals on conference calls in an air-conditioned WeWork is a far cry from the backbreaking working conditions of the 1880s, the era when Labor Day was born. For everyone here in Silicon Valley, we should not be celebrating this holiday triumphantly over beers and hot dogs, complacent in the belief that our gravest labor issues are behind us, but instead use this holiday as a moment to reflect on how much further we have to go in making our workplaces and companies more equitable, diverse, inclusive and ethically responsible. Bloody Beginnings On September 5th, 1882, 10,000 workers gathered at a “monster labor festival” to protest the 12-hours per day, seven days a week harsh working conditions they faced in order to cobble together a survivable wage. Even children as “young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country.” This all erupted in a climax in 1894 when the American Railway Union went on a nationwide strike, crippling the nation’s transportation infrastructure, which included trains that delivered postal mail. President Grover Cleveland declared this a federal crime and sent in federal troops to break up the strike, which resulted in one of the bloodiest encounters in labor history, leaving 30 dead and countless injured. Labor Day was declared a national holiday a few month later in an effort to mend wounds and make peace with a reeling and restless workforce (it also conveniently coincided with President Cleveland’s reelection bid). The Battle is Not Yet Won Today in Silicon Valley, this battle for fair working conditions and a living wage seems…

Cleo Capital sets $10M target to fund female entrepreneurs

Sarah Kunst has filed to raise $10 million for her debut venture capital fund, Cleo Capital. According to Axios, the firm will give cash to female entrepreneurs who will act as scouts.  Scouts look for viable early-stage startups for firms to invest in and then receive a cut of the profits on the investments. Kunst, pictured above, is a scout for Sequoia; it’s unclear if that will change now that she’s running her own firm. She’s also the founder of ProDay, a fitness tech startup that had raised at least $500,000 from angel investors, including Arielle Zuckerberg, but folded earlier this year. We’ve reached out to Kunst for comment. Cleo isn’t the only female-focused fund with which Kunst is involved. She joined Bumble as a senior adviser in February, and earlier this month, the popular dating app announced the launch of a VC fund targeting early-stage startups with women at the helm. Kunst is co-leading fund strategy alongside Bumble’s COO, Sarah Jones Simmer. Bumble announces a fund to invest in women-led businesses It’s no surprise Kunst is working to deploy capital to the next generation of female-founded companies. She’s been actively championing female and minority founders at least for the last several years and was one of the most vocal in the industry during tech’s #MeToo moment. She spoke to The New York Times last year about her experience with 500 Startups founder Dave McClure, who sent her inappropriate messages on Facebook in 2014. McClure followed up with a public apology in the form of a Medium post titled “I’m a creep. I’m sorry,” and shortly after resigned from the accelerator.  Kunst spoke at TechCrunch Disrupt last year a few months after The New York Times piece was published. On a panel focused on diversity in tech, she called out tech founders for a lack of diverse hiring practices: “I do this crazy thing that is hiring people that aren’t just white dudes. It works really great — you guys should try it,” she said. In 2017, only 11.3 percent of partners at VC firms were women, according to PitchBook data. Female founders,…

How Companies Can Help the Disadvantaged and Enable Diversity in the Workplace

When it comes to Americans shopping habits, Millennials are changing the game. Instead of valuing a good price above all else, like their parent’s generation, millennials want to buy from companies that share their values. Businesses big and small can attract these customers by showing good corporate citizenship and working to better the standard of […] The post How Companies Can Help the Disadvantaged and Enable Diversity in the Workplace appeared first on SmallBizClub.

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