Michelle Wolf, Maverick, Birchbox: Broadsheet for May 2nd
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Michelle Wolf is sticking to her guns, Birchbox is going through some major changes, and women are building social networks for women. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
• Mavericks and moms. Maverick, a new social network whose primary audience is tween girls, launched to the public over the weekend. Why that specific group? “During early adolescence, the majority of girls stop raising their hands, participating in sports and extra-curricular activities, taking risks, and stepping into leadership roles," says Catherine Connors, the company's co-founder and chief content officer. "In short, they stop believing in themselves." Research implies that the drop-off happens somewhere in middle school. One study found that while 60% of elementary school girls say they are “happy the way I am,” only 29% of high school girls agree with that statement.
The goal of the new platform is to encourage girls to engage with both its content and one another. The mobile app is structured around a set of tasks that a user must complete in order to unlock the next levels. These challenges, which are explained by community influencers in short video clips, include designing a "freak flag" and sharing a challenge that you've overcome. Users can see and comment on one another's responses to the challenges, but unlike Facebook, where users collect "likes," or Instagram, where favored posts rack up hearts, Maverick doesn't use social affirmation as a currency. While girls can give each other badges, they cannot see other's, an attempt to eliminate the tendency to compare and compete.
Maverick—which has raised $2.7 million from Heroic Ventures, BBG Ventures and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner—may be the newest, but it's not the only company that believes that the current social networking giants don't serve women as well as they should (and that a lucrative opening exists for someone to come along and do it better). Chairman Mom, which launched to the public last month and targets working mothers, allows women to ask and answer each other's questions anonymously. Peanut, an app that aims to help mothers connect with each other (think Tinder for moms) recently celebrated its first birthday. A key commonality of all of these new networks is that they do not run ads, instead relying on subscriptions or "freemium" models similar to that of LinkedIn, where users can upgrade to access certain features. Will any of them ever be as big as Facebook? Probably not. But if users are willing to pay for them, they don't have to be.
Read more about the new female-focused social networks here: Fortune
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Birchbox bought out. Hedge fund Viking Global Investors has acquired a majority stake in beauty startup Birchbox after agreeing to invest around $15 million in the business. Co-founder and CEO Katie Beauchamp will stay in charge of the company, which is reportedly millions of dollars in debt. Recode
• Ashley's after it. Actor Ashley Judd is suing Harvey Weinstein for allegedly torpedoing her career by spreading “false and malicious statements” regarding her “professionalism as an actor." The suit, filed Monday, specifically cites reports that Weinstein successfully dissuaded director Peter Jackson and screenwriter Fran Walsh from casting Judd in their Lord of the Rings movies. People
• Really, Roy Moore? The failed Alabama Senate candidate is now suing three women who accused him of sexual assault and harassment (major reasons why the Republican lost the special election in December). One of the defendants, Leigh Corfman, who said Moore touched her sexually when she was 14, sued Moore for defamation in January. (Is it just me, or is right now a great time to be a lawyer?) USA Today
• Add it to the list. As if Facebook didn't have enough on its plate, the company is currently investigating a claim that an engineer used access to Facebook’s data to stalk women online. The situation came to light thanks to a tweet by Jackie Stokes, founder of cybersecurity advisory firm Spyglass Security. The network's response? "“We have a zero-tolerance approach to abuse, and improper behavior results in termination.” Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Former Twitter M&A executive Jess Verrilli is headed to the Google-backed venture capital firm GV to become the firm’s newest general partner. Cisco is acquiring business intelligence startup Accompany. Founder and CEO Amy Chang will join Cisco as senior vice president in charge of the Collaboration Technology Group. British artificial intelligence company BenevolentAI has appointed Joanna Shields as CEO. She most recently served as the UK Minister for Internet Security & Safety.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• The jury's out. While many think Bill Cosby's guilty verdict is due to the ongoing #MeToo movement, the jury says otherwise. "Not once were race or the #metoo movement ever discussed, nor did either factor into our decision, as implied in various media outlets," the jury wrote in a statement in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Simply put, we were asked to assess the credibility of Ms. Constand’s account of what happened to her, and each one of us found her account credible and compelling." Philadelphia Inquirer
• Wolf stands her ground. Michelle Wolf, whose stand-up routine at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner has become a subject of national debate, is sticking to her guns. "I wouldn't change a single word that I said," she told NPR. "I don't pull punches. I'm not afraid to talk about things. And, you know, I don't think they expected that from me. I think they still have preconceived notions of how women will present themselves. And I don't fit in that box." NPR
• Pressured into support? Days after NBC anchor Tom Brokaw was accused of sexual misconduct, dozens of his colleagues—including heavyweights like Rachel Maddow, Mika Brzezinski, Andrea Mitchell and Maria Shriver—signed a letter of support, calling him a “man of tremendous decency and integrity.” Yet not all of those signatures may have been sincere: Page Six reports that some of Brokaw's coworkers put their John Hancock on the letter out of fear of repercussions if they didn't. Page Six
ON MY RADAR
Afghanistan’s first female pilot granted asylum in U.S. Wall Street Journal
How a common interview question fuels the gender pay gap (and how to stop it) New York Times
Daring to drive: Manal al-Sharif's next fight for Saudi women Forbes
Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt file objections in Weinstein bankruptcy Variety