Fewer Women-Led Bay Area Startups Got Funding Last Year

January 22, 2016, 10:48 PM UTC

Startup funding, once flowing through Silicon Valley like Red Bull through a coder, may be starting to dry up. While that’s bad news for any young company chasing a fresh infusion of cash, it appears to be having an especially pronounced effect on one particular group of founders: women.

A new report from Female Founders Fund (F Cubed), a seed investment firm that specializes in companies run by women, finds that Silicon Valley’s women-led startups lost ground last year. Just 16 female-founded Bay Area startups raised a Series A in 2014, compared to 23 in 2014. And while the overall number of Series A raises in the San Francisco area dropped by 11% last year, companies with female CEOs were disproportionately affected, falling a whopping 30%.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. The report also looked at startups based in New York, where the share of women-led companies held steady in 2015. Twelve companies with female CEOs raised a Series A round in 2015, accounting for approximately 13% of the total startups that secured Series A funding. Those stats are nearly identical to the 2014 numbers (though slightly more total rounds were raised in 2014 than in 2015).

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Another bright spot: On both coasts, the average amount raised increased last year. In the Bay Area, the average Series A for women-led companies came in at $8.6 million, up from $6.4 million in 2014. The average raise in New York was $6.8 million in 2015, up from $6.2 million the previous year.

Anu Duggal, founder of F Cubed, attributes part of New York’s relative success to the city’s increase in “serial entrepreneurship”—in other words, the number of successful female founders going on to launch their second or third venture.

The F Cubed report cites a couple examples of this trend, including Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and Alexis Maybank, co-founders of Gilt. Wilkis Wilson has since launched Glamsquad, which raised a $15 million series B in 2015. Maybank, meanwhile, has launched Project September, a social commerce website that’s currently in stealth mode (F Cubed is an investor).

Here’s a look at the largest Series A rounds for female-led companies in New York and the Bay Area in 2015:


  1. $12 milion: App-making platform DWNLD, led by Alexandra Keating.
  2. $10.5 million: Errand subscription service Alfred, led by Marcela Sapone
  3. $10 million: Career site The Muse, led by Kathryn Minshew

Bay Area

  1. $18 million: Construction industry app PlanGrid, led by Tracy Young
  2. $18 million: Hybrid electric buildings startup Advanced Microgrid Solutions, led by Susan Kennedy
  3. $11.5 million: Caribou Biosciences, led by Rachel Haurwitz

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