Good morning, Broadsheet Readers. Read on to hear from the head of Asia’s first female-led venture capital firm. She has an interesting perspective on the advantages that come with being a woman in a male-dominated industry. Plus, powerful women react to the death of Robin Williams.
• RIP Robin Williams. The beloved actor was found dead on Monday at the age of 63. Williams touched many throughout his career, including some of the most powerful women in business, entertainment, politics and fashion. I used Storify to track just some of their mourning messages via Twitter, and you can have a look here.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Alibaba IPO poses challenge for Marissa Mayer. The Chinese Internet giant is just weeks away from what could be the largest-ever initial public offering. Yet now there is some speculation that Alibaba may have a difficult time drumming up sufficient demand for its shares. Not only are U.S. investors largely unfamiliar with the company’s inner workings, but Alibaba also is incorporated in the Cayman Islands, likely barring it from many major benchmarks like the S&P 500. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is probably one of the biggest “outsiders” hoping Alibaba’s IPO goes smoothly. Yahoo’s 23% stake in the e-commerce giant accounts for about half of its market cap and insufficient after-market demand for Alibaba stock could impact Yahoo, which decided last month to maintain a larger post-IPO stake than expected.
• GM loses bid to toss lawsuit that spurred recalls. The Detroit automaker (led by Mary Barra) failed to convince a judge to dismiss a lawsuit over the death of a 29-year-old Georgia woman. The lawsuit was settled in September 2013, but the deceased woman’s family is filing new charges that claim GM fraudulently concealed vehicle defects during prior court proceedings. The decision is a huge blow for the automaker as it could pave the way for other accident victims to reopen settled cases.
• ‘Aunt Jemima’ heirs sue Pepsi. The great-grandsons of the woman who became the face of syrup brand “Aunt Jemima” is suing Pepsi Co. (led by Indra Nooyi) and Pinnacle Foods for $2 billion. Pepsi owns Quaker Oats, which makes Aunt Jemima pancake mixes and syrup, while Pinnacle is responsible for Aunt Jemima frozen pancakes and waffles. The lawsuit alleges that Anna Harrington, the name of the real “Aunt Jemima” trademarked her likeness in 1937.
• A crowdfunding site for women-led businesses. Only 5% of all venture capital funding goes to women-run startups. Plum Alley, an e-commerce and crowd funding site, seeks to disrupt that imbalance.
• MOVERS AND SHAKERS: New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is expanding her role at the media company to also be staff writer for The Times Magazine. Amal Alamuddin, a human rights lawyers and George Glooney’s fiancee, was tapped as one of three legal experts to investigate potential international law violations in Gaza.
Head of Asia’s first female-led VC firm: Either ignore gender, or make it your focus
Melissa Guzy spent years ignoring that she was one of few women working in the male-dominated semiconductor industry, and she continued that avoidance when she later became a venture capitalist. But then Guzy decided to refocus on how gender could benefit her career, and suggests that other women in tech consider doing the same.
“You have two choices as a woman in the industry,” says Guzy, who worked in Silicon Valley before relocating to Hong Kong to become managing partner of Asia-focused investment firm Arbor Ventures. “You can focus on gender or ignore it. To be a successful entrepreneur requires perseverance on so many fronts. If you get bogged down by the fact that you are not being heard because you are a woman, then you have to figure out how to deliver the message differently.”
Guzy started Arbor Ventures in 2013 with Wei Hopeman, after the two women had sat on a couple of boards of directors together. As the heads of Asia’s first female-led VC firm, Guzy feels that Arbor is in a unique position to invest in companies that benefit what she describes as an underserved population of women consumers.
“Women tend to understand women better than men understand women,” she says. “If you are going to have women consumers and women entrepreneurs, why shouldn’t you also have women venture capitalists?”
Rather than viewing her gender as a hurdle to overcome in the male-dominated VC world, Guzy says she sees it as a positive. “You tend to be able to bond with a CEO in a very different manor,” she says, highlighting a deal she won largely because she sent over a baby gift to the CEO’s pregnant wife.
“We showed that we cared beyond the term sheet, which meant a whole lot,” she adds. “Being a women differentiates you and you just need to learn how to utilize it.”
What’s your take on Guzy’s point of view? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• 7 work-life balance lies that are ruining your life. We’ve talked a lot about “work-life balance” in The Broadsheet, but let’s not forget that the principle can be unattainable when put through the wrong filters. Our sister website Time gave us all a much-needed reminder Monday that goals like “do what you love” and “take some time for yourself every day” can put a lot of unneeded stress on people to achieve the impossible.
• 13-year-old girl makes Little League history. Mo’Ne Davis, a Little League pitcher for Philadelphia, threw a complete-game shutout over the weekend, the first pitcher from Philadelphia to do so. When Davis plays in the Little League World Series this week, she will become the first girl to compete in the tournament.”I would actually really like to see how it is to play against another girl in baseball because I never have,” says Davis. “I actually want to see how it feels to be a person on the other team.”