Despite being smack in the middle of its demographic, I have never been a Pinterest user. I actually just signed up again to try to see if the service was more compelling now.
I make Halloween costumes for my kids. I am redesigning part of my house right now. I am an avid art lover, can’t decide what to do with my hair, and am trying to decide on a new tattoo. Other than planning a wedding, I have pretty much every core inspiration need that Pinterest should cater to.
I spent about three minutes and pinned two things before getting bored of seeing repeat curved, globe-like bookshelves in my feed.
I still don’t get it...
A few weeks ago, Pando wrote about the latest comeback attempt of disgraced venture capitalist and admitted sexual harasser Justin Caldbeck.
Caldbeck was scheduled to speak at a Women in STEM “Gender Summit,” at least until several prominent industry women -- including one of his victims -- emailed participants and sponsors to alert them to what was going on. After many of the keynote speakers pulled out, Caldbeck was finally pulled from the agenda.
Caldbeck’s name will be familiar to most Pando readers, given he set off the Valley’s own corner of the #metoo movement last year. But there’s another major character in the Women In STEM story about whom far less is known: Conference organizer, Meera Kaul. As we reported, Kaul seemed strangely determined to keep Caldbeck on her speaker list, even at one point emailing other speakers to smear Caldbeck’s accuser Niniane Wang.
So who is Meera Kaul, whose Twitter bio describes herself as a "Gender Rights Advocate" and who claims her work on encouraging women in STEM has been praised by President Obama... but who nonetheless went to bat for one of Silicon Valley's most notorious sexual harrassers?
One person who can help to answer that question is Susana Craig.
Craig says she first met Kaul in December of 2016, at a meeting of the Women in Action group. “The idea was to get together and plan and work on some activities involving...
Sallie Krawcheck is one of my favorite entrepreneurs. I finally got to meet her last year after many years following her career as one of the most senior women on Wall Street. A 2002 Fortune Magazine cover put her face as the hope of trust on Wall Street with a headline: "The Last Honest Analyst."
Indeed, she was fired in 2008 from Citi because she wanted to bank to reimburse clients for bad investments that were the bank’s fault. Or as she put it in an on stage interview in 2016, “I was fired for being a woman,” because women are more focused on relationships and long-term outcomes than men on Wall Street.
What do you do when you reach the pinnacle of your career– farther than almost any other woman in Wall Street has climbed– and then get fired for doing the thing that made you famous? You start a new company, entirely aimed at women, and built off of those same “female” values that got Krawcheck dismissed five years ago...
We’re not quite ready to let International Women’s Day go yet.
We spend so much time writing about the bro-forces trying to keep women out of the tech world. This week, we wanted to honor a few of the backstories of some of our favorite badass women we’ve interviewed over the years.
Ann Miura-Ko, partner Floodgate
AMK: I remember there was a point in time when my mom said that I should learn to sew. She brings out her sewing machine. I refused to do it, but I said I wanted to take it apart.
My dad actually took it apart with me and showed what was inside, so that I knew what was going on when a sewing machine sewed. My dad bought us a PCjr when I was probably six or seven years old. The first thing I wanted to know was what was inside. He just took it apart for me, so I could see what was inside...
One thing that has become crystal clear over the last year of reporting is just how much internal HR has the back of the companies and not employees.
But one of the big problem with the venture capital industry is most of the firms don’t even have HR functions for women to appeal to. They are just lose confederations of (more than 90%) male partners with less legal requirements than large companies to treat people with equality.
And it became apparent in the last year that investors generally won’t do anything to rein in partners, even if they know about their behavior, unless a woman risks retaliation to go on the record with evidence accusing that partner. The most extreme example was Justin Caldbeck, who cost Lightspeed money by the way he treated its founder Katrina Lake, and they still gave LPs in his new fund a glowing references nonetheless.
There’s a lot we need to do as an ecosystem to solve this. But a good first step is making venture firms have an actual policy around anti-harassment and discrimination that they can be held to, and make that information transparent and public, with clear steps for people to report abuses of those policies, and contacts to answer questions around diversity and inclusion.
You can’t hold someone accountable to a policy that doesn’t exist.
Andrea Coravos and Cheryl Sew Hoy are announcing a new open source directory of 57 venture firms’ stated policies and commitments on issues of diversity, inclusion, and anti-harassment. They are...
There was a time it cost millions of dollars to get a consumer product to market.
There was a time that it cost millions even to get an Internet consumer product live. There was a time when building an enterprise software business required armies of sales people...
Now that Dropbox is finally poised to go public there will be two storylines to watch.
The first will be about this era of runaway valuations. Taken together, the decacorns are worth more than $200 billion. These bets are only accelerating. In a single quarter last year, private market investors pumped a record $10 billion into “startups”... and 80% of that went to just four companies.
Snap was the first decacorn to go public. To its credit, it is still worth tens of billions of dollars-- it is trading just above its IPO price of some $21 billion in market cap. But it’s vulnerable. Instagram stories has proven a formidable adversary and its youth audience which it argued justified its price is in revolt over a redesign. Snap said it its S1 it would need to continually innovate to keep it’s fad-oriented audience engaged. It hasn’t. Spectacles were a dud. Those same users are the ones who hate the redesign. If a Tweet from Kylie can wipe away $1.3 billion in market cap, perhaps you shouldn’t have made a $20 billion bet on divining fads.
How will Dropbox fare against its four-year-old valuation of $10 billion...?
“He won’t stop raping me… RU there?... It’s my dad.”
It’s a text message Nancy Lublin will never forget. While some companies may have to hammer home their corporate mission everyday to employees and the press, Lublin’s central mission for Crisis Text Line is a clear daily imperative. Her team is saving lives. “That person is who we built this for,” she says.
The metrics for tracking success at Crisis Text Line are as impactful: Their texts have a 97% open rate, their satisfaction rate is 86%, and 65% of the people text the word, “Thanks.” Bear in mind, these are people contacting the site in a moment of crisis...
“Transparency breeds trust,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek tweeted after his company filed for a direct stock listing.
Ek is certainly right, and so it may be a bit churlish to point out that, whether a company goes public through an IPO or a direct listing, the SEC still requires a certain degree of transparency on financial and operational matters.
As expected, Spotify is listing its shares directly on the NYSE without the help of underwriters, although three Wall Street firms will receive a flat fee to act as advisors. Or, as Spotify put it in its F-1 filing, "the listing... is a novel method for commencing public trading in our ordinary shares..."
Last week, we published an in-depth investigative story about five women who were all driven out of a division of UC Berkeley’s IT department.
An on-campus investigation found that two men, Ben Gross and Riff Khan, were responsible for creating a hostile environment, based on gender.
It wasn’t much of a victory: Days after the investigation findings came out, the woman who brought the investigation, Vanessa Kaskiris, was $35,000 in legal debt and summoned to a meeting where she was laid off. Meanwhile, the two men found responsible suffered no ramifications and went on to work at two of the most highly valuable companies in Silicon Valley today: Gross is at Coinbase; Khan is at Palantir. They were even given going away parties, emails were sent “honoring” their work at Berkeley.
As we wrote, this wasn’t just the story of these five women. It’s the story of women in Silicon Valley writ large. The truth behind the so-called “pipeline problem”, the difference between diversity and inclusion, and a story of how bullying and sabotage can be just as disastrous for women’s careers as groping and propositioning.
Only, there’s a huge difference: If you sexually assault or proposition a woman, and are found guilty of that, you will likely get fired in this day and age. When you are found to be responsible for creating an environment where women are bullied, sabotaged, ostracized and called names like “little girl”, the industry standard isn’t to get fired. Berkeley noted that...
Over 50 investments and thousands of hours of conversations among ourselves and with other women in our industry later, we have more conviction than ever in our mission: to get more women onto the cap tables of successful startups. Why do we focus on the cap table? Because it holds the roadmap to wealth and power in Silicon Valley.
The cap table, or capitalization table, is a legal document that records who owns shares in a company, and how many. It generates the payout spreadsheet in an exit, revealing how the proceeds from an eventual IPO or acquisition will be distributed. To truly understand the depth of the diversity challenge in our industry, we need to start talking about the cap table.
Tracy Chou’s post “Where are the numbers?” catalyzed an important movement: technology companies now (largely) publicly report the gender and racial makeup of their workforce. This was a watershed moment. It quantified and illuminated the under-representation of women of all races and Black, Latinx and Native Americans people of all genders (URMs¹) in the industry. Reporting these data has now become an industry standard. And it’s given companies a yardstick to measure progress, and made clear where companies are falling short.
Over four years later, we’d like to see another metric layered into the diversity discussion: the...
Dropbox's prospectus offers encouragement to a weary IPO market
Dropbox is not only the largest IPO since Snap, it's the company likely to have the biggest influence on this year's IPO market.
Despite the abrupt market correction two weeks ago, there's reason to expect that the public market the IPO will launch into will be more welcoming to a well-known tech company. New corporate tax cuts will leave companies with more capital for stock buybacks, while money exiting the bond market is looking for a safer place to invest...
Vanessa Kaskiris was born in Hollywood and has blond hair, but she’s not what you are probably picturing right now. Hers was a different version of the California dream.
When I first meet her, she tugs at her platinum locks and says, “This is all bleach, I’m 100% Latina.” Her grandparents were Mexican migrant workers, her grandmother working as a seamstress in downtown LA and her grandfather working on the docks, loading and unloading giant steam ships.
Her father grew up in East LA, a hardcore Catholic and ex-Marine who served in Vietnam. Her mother-- also of Mexican descent-- was more of a free-spirit, a dancer, an artist, and an opera singer, always searching for her big break.
Two life-changing things happened when Kaskiris was 11 years old. The first was her parents split up. Her mother had seen in her father the strict Mexican upbringing that part of her was nostalgic for. But ultimately they were just too different.
The second major event was when Kaskiris’s father took her and her younger brother to visit UC Berkeley. Kaskiris looked at her father and said, “I’m gonna go to Berkeley. That’s where I want to go to school.” She would spent the next eleven years working towards that goal.
“It was so messy and busy,” she remembers. “When I stood at Sather Gate, and looked out to Telegraph, I was like, ‘This is really a hub. There’s a lot of stuff going on here and there are all kinds of people and so many...
Last Friday, Valley entrepreneur Niniane Wang was alerted to the existence of the upcoming “Women in STEM Gender Summit” in Mountain View at the Computer History Museum. Sounds great, right? Who doesn’t want more Women in STEM?
The conference had a few impressive speakers like storied venture capital pioneer Magdelana Yesil and “Brotopia” author Emily Chang. But it also had another speaker whose name jumped out at Wang: Justin Caldbeck.
That’s right: The same Justin Caldbeck who once tried to use his position as a VC to pressure Wang to sleep with him. The same Caldbeck who Wang and several other women helped bring to justice last summer, when they bravely went on the record to talk about their experiences and began a reckoning of venture capitalists losing their jobs for abusing their position of power over women.
That Justin Caldbeck was scheduled to speak at a Women in STEM gender conference...
As the douche settles after the Waymo vs Uber case, let’s take a moment to ask: What was that all about?
This was a civil case between two major name-brand Silicon Valley corporations – Uber and Google –and on that basis alone there’s an argument to be made that it was a business story of some importance, fit for the business section. Add in the spy-novel intrigue of an alleged data-theft orchestration by Uber’s leadership, and you’ve got the makings of a sizzling headline.
But this thing went on for almost a year, and every pretrial hearing drew a crowd of journalists and a tranche of overlapping coverage. Were the stakes really high enough to justify all that attention..?
I have been #longLA since before it was a hashtag, and definitely since before LA had its own consumer Internet decacorn. One of Pando’s first hires was Michael Carney to focus on the LA ecosystem. And he was so good at it, he got poached away to be a VC.
I was also long Snapchat way back when everyone else was dismissing it as a sexting app. And yet, I’m not sure the relationship between Snap and LA’s tech cred is as Hollywood ending as it may seem.
Don’t get me wrong: Even if Snap fades into being a new Twitter, it has been good for LA. It will pole-vault LA into one of the most desirable tech ecosystems, with talent, thousands of rich angel investors, and most of all a proof point that you can build one of the largest consumer Internet companies of the mobile messaging era in LA.
But one could argue that LA wasn’t all that good for Snap...
Twitter's stock has nearly doubled in the last six months, against a 11% rise in the Nasdaq Composite.
So far in February, while the Nasdaq lost as much as 10% of its value during last week's selloff, the stock traded up 22%. The mighty FAANG were tumbling alongside nearly everyone else, but Twitter held its head above the fray to reach its highest point in two and a half years.
What did Twitter do to win the favor of investors during a market slump? Why, it posted a profit! Net income in the fourth quarter swung to profit of $91 million from a loss of $167 million a year earlier. For all of 2017, Twitter's net loss shrank to $108 million from $457 million in 2016. If you've been following Twitter for the past few years, you recognize this as good news...
In September 2015, at the height of San Francisco’s Indian Summer, then-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sat beside Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff in front of a crowd of tens of thousands, on a stage erected in the middle of a closed-off street in the heart of the city, and explained his vision for the future.
Someday he wanted to stand at the top of Salesforce Tower, look down upon a streetscape where every car was an Uber. “If they were, the world would be a better place,” he said. He didn’t say for whom.
At the time Salesforce Tower was a hole in the ground two blocks from crowds sweating under the jumbotron. Today it is near completion, and Travis Kalanick’s vision has fallen apart...
Just before noon on Tuesday, former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick stood before the tall wooden double doors of a federal courtroom in San Francisco.
As he blithely chatted with a pair of familiar national journalists, his personal council, former U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, stepped in ex post facto to assert that everything he had said was off the record. Oh of course, the journalists said together at once.
Kalanick said he felt like an athlete about to run through the tunnel to the field, and just then the door swung open and he was summoned inside. Taking a beat to compose himself, he stepped through the door.
It wasn’t jock jams and a gauntlet of cheering fans that awaited him, but rather a hushed, keyboard-mashing crowd of corporate trial operatives and fatigued reporters who’d arrived before dawn to secure a seat and had been live-tweeting for their suppers since. For the next hour and during a further two hours of testimony the following morning, Kalanick seemed at home in the center of this attention, and managed to lighten the earthy prevailing schadenfreude with bubbly accents of cognitive dissonance.
Charles Verhoven: Did you tell the group that what you wanted was a pound of flesh?
Travis Kalanick: I don’t know specifically. It’s a term I use from time to time.
Charles Verhoven: So during this jam session you discussed how laser is the sauce?
Travis Kalanick: Yes.
He was directed by Google’s lawyer Charles Vanderhoven through a trail of emails and things he’d said in...
Snap's stock was surging 45% mid-day Wednesday to $20.36 a share after delivering better than expected earnings for the first time since it went public a little more than a year ago.
Not only did that rally vault the stock above its $17 a share offering price, it put the stock at its highest level in eight months.
That has some wondering whether 2018 could be the year of Snap. The narrative on the company has gone from discouragingly dark to blindingly bright in the space of less than a day. Which feels like a premature call, given that the numbers Snap posted, while encouraging, also show the company has a lot of work to do to become the kind of profitable enterprise beloved by tech investors...