Female Founders 2018, Shutdown Childcare, Gym Makeup: Broadsheet January 28
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! There are more women under consideration for the World Bank job, Rep. Ilhan Omar wants to reimburse federal employees for their shutdown childcare costs, and the share of VC money going to women has stalled. Have a motivated Monday.
• Funding fundamentals. It's that time again—the moment when we look back at the past 12 months, and ask: Is this the year venture capital woke up to the potential of female founders?
To answer that question, Emma worked with PitchBook, a data company that tracks the investing world, and All Raise, a group supporting women in venture capital and startups, to crunch the 2018 fundraising numbers. Here's what she learned:
The short answer to our question, it seems, is no. Big picture, progress has stalled. Women-led companies in the U.S. got just 2.2% of all VC funding in 2018. That's the exact stat Fortune calculated for 2017—and indeed, it's down a hair from the 2.5% PitchBook reported more recently for that year after re-categorizing some 2017 deals.
That said, the overall funding pie grew in 2018—meaning that, while the share of money going to female founders held fast, the actual amount of money they raised spiked: $2.9 billion vs. $1.9 billion in 2017. A big part of that phenomenon, notes Emma, is the rise of so-called "mega rounds" led by firms like Soft Bank, which have injected more money into the system and gone almost exclusively to male-led companies. (One exception to this rule is Grab, the Singapore-based ride-hailing company co-founded by Tan Hooi Ling.)
For a clearer look at that disparity, consider the biggest deals of 2018—the 10 top all went to companies founded by men. The largest venture capital raise last year for a female-led startup went to Minted, the social commerce company co-founded by Mariam Naficy and Melissa Kim. In a December 2018 Series E round, the company raised $208 million from investors. Meanwhile, the 10th-biggest raise of the year for male-led company was $865 million (Katerra's Series D). "With every gain we get," Eva Ho, GP at Fika Ventures and leader of All Raise's data team, tells Emma, "There's a counter-gain, with an all-male firm being founded or an all-male company getting a super-sized round."
Finally, one more bright spot: Silicon Valley added 36 women as investment partners at venture capital firms in 2018—the most ever in a single year.
Ultimately, 2018 was more of the "one step forward, one step back" we've all become accustomed to—not just for women founders, but for all women striving for equality in the world of business. That could be considered depressing, but I choose to see it as motivating. Last year, thanks to All Raise and others, the paucity of funding that goes to female founders (and the small numbers of female investors making those calls) got a level of attention it's never before received. 2019 is the year to turn that focus into results.
Yes, many in the VC world are still sleeping on the power of women-led companies—so let's set the alarm. Fortune
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• World Bank watch. It's not just Indra Nooyi. There are more candidates to be the first woman to lead the World Bank—a milestone deemed likely to arrive in part because appointing the first woman would help the pick get approved, analysts say. The White House is also considering Goldman Sachs's Dina Powell, who was a candidate to replace Nikki Haley at the UN. Outside of the U.S., London School of Economics director Minouche Shafik, Nigeria's former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who had the same role in Indonesia, are under discussion. Wall Street Journal
• That's a no from Google. Stephen Elliott, the writer named as an alleged Shitty Media Man on the Shitty Media Men list, faced a roadblock in his lawsuit against Moira Donegan, who wrote the list. Google has declined to meet Elliott's request for data on every person who edited or looked at the Google doc. The Cut
• Sundance check-in. There's plenty of good news coming out of the Sundance Film Festival, like a record-breaking $13 million deal by Amazon for Mindy Kaling's Late Night starring Emma Thompson and the 4% Challenge encouraging filmmakers to work with women directors over the next year-and-a-half. There are also some films that will certainly be important over the next year: Leaving Neverland, which documents Michael Jackson's alleged sexual abuse of two underage boys, and Untouchable, a documentary on Harvey Weinstein that attempts to figure out the "why" behind his actions.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Sarah Rose joins TaskRabbit as chief product officer. Lawyer Lisa Blatt, who's argued more cases before the U.S. Supreme Court than any other woman, is reportedly leaving law firm Arnold & Porter to return to Williams & Connolly.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Covering childcare. Plenty of lawmakers are trying to recoup lost wages and savings for American workers affected by the government shutdown, but Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar has a specific goal: a bill that would reimburse childcare costs for federal workers who went without pay. Star Tribune
• Menstrual monetization. Period-tracking apps are tracking women's data—and they're increasingly trying to monetize it in troubling ways. Perhaps the worst offender: Ovia, which is pitching insurers and employers a version of its app that will give them a "heads up" on how many of their employees or insurance members want to conceive. Bloomberg
• Sneakers, hair tie, mascara? The new category for companies to sell to women? Makeup you wear to the gym. Taking a cue from athleisure, there's already the CliniqueFit line, CoverGirl's Outlast Active Collection, and more to come. Wall Street Journal
• The icon of American offices. The New York Times has a fascinating obituary for Florence Knoll Bassett, who died at 101 last week. Her legacy is one that affects most people reading this: she designed the modern American office. Open work spaces, furniture grouped together, oval meeting tables, the sleek look—that's all her. New York Times
ON MY RADAR
The sudden, sublime new normal of watching women run for president Glamour
How a 13-year-old girl smashed the gender divide in American high schools The New Yorker
No idea is off-limits for IMF's first woman chief economist Bloomberg
7 women on their 'work moms' The Cut