Companies With a Female Founder Are Exiting More Quickly Than Male-Founded Startups

November 12, 2019, 1:58 PM UTC

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Justice Elena Kagan may be the most influential liberal on the Supreme Court, paid family leave isn’t an automatic fix for keeping women in the workforce, and female-founded companies are heading for the exits. Have a terrific Tuesday. 


- Exit, stage left. A new report out this morning from PitchBook and All Raise looks at the world of VC-backed female founders. There's plenty of chewy data in the study, including a look at the share of VC dollars going to companies with at least one female founder (18% last year), the industry where female founded companies are getting the most traction with VCs (pharma and biotech), and the stage where where women are most likely to get funding (still angel and seed).

But perhaps the most compelling findings in the report revolve around that word VCs (and the limited partners who invest in their funds) love to hear: exits.

When it comes to selling or IPOing their companies—and securing a pile of cash in the process—female founders are gaining ground at an increasing pace. In 2018, startups with at least one female founder accounted for 14% of exits, generating a total of $26.3 billion. What's more, the research reveals that these companies are currently exiting more quickly than average: a median 6.4 years vs. a median 7.4 years. Yep, that's a whole year sooner than the typical startup founded entirely by men. 

If there are any VCs out there who are still casting around for another profit-friendly reason to fund more women-founded companies, I think you just found it.

Kristen Bellstrom

Today's Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe


- Kagan and the Court. Is the fate of the Supreme Court in Elena Kagan's hands? The justice isn't as much of a cultural icon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but her bridge-building with her more conservative colleagues, political instinct, and youth (in comparison to her fellow progressive justices) make her "without question, the most influential of the liberals." The New Yorker

- Paid leave policies. There's a general line of thinking that paid family leave helps women stay in the workforce long term. But a study of paid leave in California found that mothers who took it after California introduced the program in 2005 ended up working less and earning less a decade later. The conclusion isn't all bad news, however, says author and economist Martha J. Bailey: “The answer is not, ‘Don’t pass paid leave policies.' I think the answer has to be that we think smarter about how to design those policies, that also encourage fathers to take leave." New York Times

- Hong Kong update. Hong Kong anti-government and pro-democracy protests reached new levels of unrest this week, including tear gas fired by police at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, disrupted trains, and school closures. Police shot a protester earlier this week, and a student died last week after falling from a parking garage near where police were using tear gas to disperse protesters; a man was set on fire after arguing with demonstrators. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says protesters are "paralyzing" the city. Wall Street Journal

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: The Financial Times named deputy editor Roula Khalaf its next editor-in-chief. Audible, owned by Amazon, hired former Pottermore CEO Susan Jurevics as VP and general manager, Audible Escape. INFLCR hired IGN's Neeta Sreekanth as COO. 


- Political promises. On Veterans' Day yesterday, 2020 candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg promised that he would appoint a woman to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs (such an appointment would be a first). Plus, Fortune's Nicole Goodkind analyzes Center for Responsive Politics data on fundraising by presidential candidates, finding that Sen. Bernie Sanders has raised the most money from women, while former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro sees the highest percentage of donations come from women.

- VSCO-smetics. The "VSCO girl" phenomenon—a minimal makeup look, hydroflask included—is hitting the beauty industry. Teen girls spent 21% less on makeup this year than a year earlier but are more likely to spend on skincare. Fortune

- Fight for the right. Japanese women are fighting against employers that ban them from wearing glasses at work; men are usually allowed to wear glasses. The movement follows #KuToo, an effort to stop companies from requiring women to wear high heels in Japanese workplaces. Bloomberg


How a background in education helped Emily Hyland build a pizza empire Fortune 

Why are all the men in my life so angry about my short hair? Refinery29

How much fashion is too much fashion at work? Wall Street Journal


"Brands have had no choice but to listen to consumer demand and start evolving."

-Kayla Marci, market analyst at Edited, on plus-size fashion


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