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Honest Co. Funding, The Investment Gap, and Bill Clinton Backtracks: Broadsheet for June 7

June 7, 2018, 12:24 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Beth Kowitt here, filling in for Kristen and Claire. Deb Haaland could become the first Native American woman in Congress, Jessica Alba’s Honest Co. lands $200 million in funding, and we dig into the investment gap. Have a lovely Thursday.


 Another kind of gender gap. At this point, it’s a sad but well-known fact that female entrepreneurs receive a tiny fraction of all venture capital funding—a minuscule 2.2% last year to be exact.

That’s in part because companies started by women are simply unable to raise as much money as their male counterparts. A study released yesterday from the Boston Consulting Group and MassChallenge, a network of startup accelerators, found that of the 350 companies examined, the average woman-founded startup received $935,000 in funding. That's less than half of the $2.1 million awarded on average to the male-founded startups in the study.

"The investment gap is real—and larger than we thought," write the authors of the report.

That’s downright depressing. And yet there was one bright spot in the data: The female-founded startups outperformed their male counterparts’ in terms of revenue, bringing in $730,000 over a five-year period versus $662,000 for the men. When you crunch the numbers, that means these women-run companies are returning 78 cents per dollar compared to 31 cents for the men.

Some of the reasons for the disparity in funding highlighted in the report will sound familiar to Broadsheet readers. Women are more likely to receive pushback during their pitch presentations, and often investors assume they don’t have technical knowledge. The researchers spoke to one woman, who co-founded a business with a male partner, who told them, “When I pitch with him, they always assume he knows the technology, so they ask him all the technical questions.”

Women are also more conservative in their projections and may ask for less, the researchers found. Meanwhile, “men often overpitch and oversell.” And investors, who are primarily men, may suffer from “affinity bias”—that they back the people and products they know.

The authors calculated that VCs could have made an additional $85 million over five years if they’d just invested equally in both the female- and male-founded startups.

So the real lesson here is for investors: They're majorly missing out.


 Historic Haaland. Deb Haaland is on track to become the first Native American woman in Congress after winning the Democratic primary for New Mexico's 1st Congressional District, CNN reports. She was one of at least 43 of the 92 women competing in June 5 primaries to come out victorious, according to Bloomberg. CNN

 The sports pay gap. Forbes has put out its annual ranking of the world's highest-paid athletes—and it includes no women. While the list has always been "testosterone-heavy," it's included at least one female athlete every year since 2010. Serena Williams was the only woman in the ranking last year, but she fell off after "being sidelined almost the entire 12 months due to pregnancy and giving birth to her daughter." Forbes

 Honest money. Personal care retailer Honest Co., which was co-founded by actress Jessica Alba, is getting a $200 million investment from L Catterton—a move that gives the private equity firm a minority stake in the brand. The funds will be used to help build its supply chain and expand globally, the company said.  Fortune

 Bill backtracks. Bill Clinton is trying to walk back some of the defensive—and tone deaf—remarks he made about Monica Lewinsky earlier this week while promoting his new book. (For more, see Claire's essay from Tuesday.) “When something that was that painful is thrown up again after 20 years after it was fully litigated, you tend to freeze up—and it wasn’t my finest hour,” Clinton said at a TimesTalks event on Tuesday.  New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Aetna president Karen Lynch will become executive vice president of CVS Health and president for the Aetna business unit after CVS's acquisition of Aetna closes.


 Bee gets stung. TBS will have more oversight over Samantha Bee's show Full Frontal after the comedian called first daughter Ivanka Trump the c-word. (Bee apologized the next day.) Bee previously had full creative license over the show, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, network management will now have more say in order to prevent another episode that could rattle advertisers and create a backlash.  The Hollywood Reporter

 'The Size Conversation.' I highly recommend spending some time with Racked's special issue on size and fashion. The package tackles everything from body positivity (it's a scam, says the author) to a look at how much it costs to make plus-size clothing. Racked

 Top billing for Tubman? The Trump administration won't commit to putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, saying that the redesign of the next currency series is still in its early stages. In 2016, former Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew said Tubman would get prime billing on the front of the $20, and Andrew Jackson would be moved to the back with the new design expected in 2020.  New York Times

 A former spy vs. the Agency. This story profiles Janine Brookner, who after resigning from the CIA, has helped women (and some men) file sexual harassment suits against government agencies. "She knew about sexual harassment," WaPo reports, "because, she says, she had experienced it herself in her quarter-century working as a spy in the CIA’s clandestine service." Washington Post

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Star Wars fans rally around Kelly Marie Tran after reported online harassment  Entertainment Weekly

Judge from the Brock Turner case removed from office  The Cut

Cynthia Nixon on "being a Miranda" 20 years after Sex and the City premiered  Refinery29

With push from Kim Kardashian, Trump commutes life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson  Fortune


Whatever happened in her life, however, and whatever happens to the brand that still bears her former name, what should never change is the contribution she made: not just to a lot of wardrobes, but to the idea of the American woman. She stepped forward. She opened stores. She moved all of us along.
New York Times fashion director and chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman on Kate Spade, who died on Tuesday