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Venture Capital Firms Are Really Into Podcasting

April 25, 2017, 4:52 PM UTC
Boom With A View by Erin Griffith: Startups and Venture Capital
Illustration by Aleksandar Savic

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As the tech industry revealed in the 2015 Ellen Pao trial, it is important for venture capitalists to be “thought leaders.” In the past, they’d do that by writing provocative (but not too provocative!) blog posts, speaking at conferences, providing expert quotes in news articles, hosting meet-ups, and tweeting a lot. To help with the workload, many firms hired increasingly sophisticated teams of communications and content professionals. Sometimes these teams ghostwrite blog posts and op-eds for partners, other times they launch full-fledged publications, like First Round Capital’s First Round Review. Now, they’re producing podcasts.

It’s starting to seem like every firm wants to be in the literal ears of entrepreneurs. Here is a selection:

These are just the ones I could find that are produced by and feature VC firms and their partners — people whose full-time job is to invest in startups and thought lead.

Today, a new one was announced: LinkedIn co-founder and Greylock Partner Reid Hoffman has created a podcast focused on entrepreneurship called Masters of Scale.

Hoffman’s podcast has committed to another form of leadership: It will feature a 50-50 gender balance for its guests.

The pledge reminds me of lawyer Ed Zimmerman’s pledge to only participate in four-person panels if at least one of the speakers was female. He also extended the requirement to professional dinner parties of ten or more. As I wrote at the time:

Zimmerman said he’s had to explain numerous times to critics that this does not mean he now discriminates against men and refuses to support them. He’s also fended off less ridiculous criticisms around quotas and affirmative action; he says the “what if the best qualified people are men?” question has been used to justify the status quo for decades.

“That is a great way to continue to allow discrimination to persist,” he says. “It’s just not possible that 90% of the people who are qualified to be venture investors are men, so I don’t buy that argument.”