Good morning, Broadsheet readers! An Oprah episode may have helped sink Andy Puzder, Kellyanne Conway is becoming a cable news pariah, and a buzzy VR startup gets hit with a gender discrimination suit. Have a great Thursday.
• Too big a leap. Magic Leap, a secretive Florida-based VR startup valued at $4.5 billion, is the latest tech company to be sued for gender discrimination.
The suit was filed by former marketing VP Tannen Campbell, who was—ironically—brought into the company to help it appeal to women, according to Techcrunch. The document is full of allegations of almost cartoonishly horrific behavior, but what jumped out at me is Campbell's charge that the company's massive gender disparity is putting the startup at a competitive disadvantage.
"Sadly, because Magic Leap seldom hires and does not actively recruit female candidates, the company loses competitive advantage to products like Microsoft’s Hololens. Microsoft, which employs far more females on its team, developed its similar product on a faster time line with more content that appeals to both genders," reads the suit. "All the engineers and others in predominately-male Magic Leap could conceive of to make the product female friendly was to produce a version in pink."
(Neither Campbell or Magic Leap have responded to Fortune's requests for comment.)
While this isn't as egregious as, say, the claim that an IT employee reportedly told a female hire with tech troubles that, "In IT we have a saying; stay away from the Three Os: Orientals, Old People, and Ovaries," it is a powerful argument. And one that has the potential to sway even those who might be tempted to pooh-pooh claims about a "hostile work environment." It's a reminder that sexist workplaces aren't just harmful to female employees (though that should be enough!)—they are also toxic to a company's future. Fortune
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Puzder's out. CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder, Trump’s pick for secretary of labor, has withdrawn from consideration. The move comes after weeks of scrutiny over treatment of his workers and decades-old abuse allegations from his ex-wife Lisa Fierstein (which she has since retracted). Fierstein's allegations received new scrutiny recently thanks to a tape that surfaced of her appearing in disguise on a 1990 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show talking about how her abusive husband “vowed revenge.” Time
• Pumped about PepsiCo. Investors are buzzing about PepsiCo's strong fourth-quarter results, which the company reported yesterday. CEO Indra Nooyi—No. 2 on Fortune's list of Most Powerful Women—attributes the company's success to its increased focus on healthier snacks. Despite the win, the company is forecasting lower revenue for 2017 than expected, something that analysts are saying is typical of its "under-promise, over-deliver" approach (a tendency that studies show is distinctly feminine). Fortune
• Mayer gets marked down. Verizon and Yahoo are nearing a revised deal price, which could lower the amount Verizon will pay for the Marissa Mayer-led internet company by as much as $350 million. The pair are renegotiating the original $4.8 billion price tag after Yahoo revealed two massive hacks that were not previously disclosed. Recode
• Behind the numbers. We've all read about the spike in the number of women who've said they're interested in seeking public office in the wake of the presidential election. In this Marie Claire story, Jill Filipovic talks to a few of those women to find out what that really looks like: what exactly is motivating them, what offices are they running for, and what are their chances of success? Marie Claire
• No Joe for Conway. Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski is taking a hard line on Kellyanne Conway, saying on-air that the Trump counselor is "not credible anymore" and will no longer be booked on the program. "Every time I’ve ever seen her on television, something is askew, off, or incorrect," said Brzezinski. Fortune
• Pick a pod. A couple of podcast updates: This week's Fortune MPW pod features reality TV star-turned-denim entrepreneur Khloe Kardashian. Also, CNN is launching Boss Files with Poppy Harlow today. The new podcast series features Harlow's conversations with guests like soccer legend Abby Wambach, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and Deloitte chief Cathy Engelbert.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Girls just wanna have funds. Fortune's Erin Griffith reports that Fika Ventures, a Los Angeles-based seed firm, has raised $40 million for its debut fund. Eva Ho, who previously co-founded Susa Ventures, is one of the firm's two general partners. She also co-founded startups Factual and Navigating Cancer and worked at Google and YouTube. Fortune
• Nevertheless, she persists. A new Politico/Morning Consult poll finds that while 43% of voters say they would vote for a Democrat in 2020 (vs. 35% who would vote for a second Trump term), the president would still beat Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in a hypothetical matchup, 42% to 36%. Politico
• Keeping up with Kullman. Former DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman writes about why we shouldn't shy away from workplace situations where we're the sole woman in the group. The only way to change that dynamic, she says, "is to take the leap and be the woman in the room who works to bring parity to the workplace." Fortune
• The Williams way. Fortune's Valentina Zarya talks to talk show queen Wendy Williams about her distain for likability ("I don't have time for that."), her side gig as the prolific author of seven books, and the charity she founded to help those affected by drug abuse. Fortune
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