This is a controversial post. But its something on my mind. If I cant be honest on my own blog, then where? As I build this rocketship of a company, I’ve decided on a key principal that I hope to be able to stick by— if the investment firm who is interested in my company doesn’t have a woman or minority in its senior ranks, then I hope to have the luxury to turn them down. Of course, if I’m not in that fortunate position, I won’t even have this choice. But I believe that I will be in such a position at some point.
I’ve spent a long time in the venture capital industry and have come to realize that its such a powerful industry. Its the king-maker industry of all industries. VCs provide the capital to fuel dreams and create the billion-dollar companies of the future. It is precisely for this reason that VCs have the responsibility to stand for something beyond the dollars.
We all have biases. And the hard part about biases is that you can’t tell you have them. They are biases because they are ingrained in our thinking and our everyday behaviors. If a VC doesn’t have a woman or minority in their senior ranks, does that mean they are evil, or bigots? Absolutely not. But it may signal that they haven’t evaluated or addressed their own biases. Now, any VC that says that “I’d love to hire women/minorities, but the talent just isn’t out there” — avoid that VC! The typical employment process at a VC is to find young talent with strong analytical fundamentals and shape that person to the culture and norms of the firm. With tons of minorities and women trying to get into the VC industry, there is no excuse.
At the end of the day, entrepreneurs look to their VCs to help them question their own biases to steer them forward with true honesty about their situation. This is the greatest “value-add” that an investor can offer. How can a VC help me with my biases if they aren’t honest about their own?
In this new economy, the “old boys club” needs to be eradicated for the betterment of our country and society. It only happens when the best and hottest companies are thoughtful about which investors they choose.