Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Colorado guarantees the right to abortion via state law, women of color are fleeing the BBC, and even money and privilege can’t buy access to high-quality menopause health care as some investors are learning. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
– Spending power. Money can buy access to a number of health care services, but even still, it has its limits. Take menopause, for instance. While it’s a near-universal experience for women, the medical community gives the transition little attention.
This is a discovery that many women in their 40s and 50s make as they approach perimenopause and menopause, and it’s one that inspired an eclectic group of investors to back the menopause telehealth startup Evernow, which announced a $28.5 million Series A close today. The category is small but growing within women’s health: about 12 startups in the space attracted venture funding in the past year.
Evernow’s funding round boasts a star-studded lineup: SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell; actor and Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow; actor and talk show host Drew Barrymore; actor and entrepreneur Cameron Diaz; author Glennon Doyle; and soccer star Abby Wambach have all invested in the startup founded by Alicia Jackson.
“As a woman who has talked openly about being in perimenopause, I’ve been shocked by the lack of attention and solid guidance paid to this significant health event,” Paltrow told me of her decision to invest. “Visibility is key, but alongside that we need real innovation. I invested in this space to help move the needle forward for all of us at this life stage and beyond.”
That’s a feeling shared by Paltrow’s co-investors, Jackson says. Alongside the celebrity lineup, Evernow’s Series A backers include NEA, 8VC, Refactor Capital, and Coelius Capital. Other angel investors are longtime Morgan Stanley exec Carla Harris and Care.com founder Sheila Lirio Marcelo, who helped attract the group of high-profile angels. While the Hollywood investors are all notable in their own right, Shotwell’s financial backing is arguably the most newsworthy; the SpaceX president rarely gives interviews and hasn’t publicly announced many personal investments.
“[It’s] the fact that no one ever spoke to them about this,” says Jackson of what inspired this cohort to underwrite the company. “Even women of incredible means cannot get any help here. Even women with incredible resources have a very hard time navigating this and getting really great health care.”
Menopause and perimenopause symptoms, and their impact on women’s health, rarely make public discourse. “This transition from 100% estrogen to 1% estrogen has all these lasting health consequences for the next several decades of life,” says Jackson, who has a doctorate in nanotechnology. “A lot of doctors are operating off of outdated information about menopause and about treatments. Menopause truly is the backwater of medicine.”
While symptoms like hot flashes and insomnia are well known, Jackson argues that the way menopause truly affects women’s health is not adequately studied or communicated to patients. Frequent menopausal hot flashes, for example, are associated with a 50% higher risk of cardiovascular disease later in life, according to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Evernow and its medical advisers are hoping to add to this body of research. Already, they’ve surveyed 100,000 women on their experiences with menopause and plan to publish the findings in a peer-reviewed journal.
Founded in 2019, Evernow offers telehealth patients hormone therapies including estradiol patches or pills, and SSRI paroxetine, used to treat hot flashes and night sweats. The company’s approach is centered on addressing underlying health factors associated with menopause, rather than solely managing symptoms, such as weight gain and hair loss.
“We overlook it and just call it getting older,” Jackson says. “It’s unacceptable.”
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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- Reproductive rights. The right to an abortion is now guaranteed under Colorado state law. The state is one of 16 to not just decline to pass abortion restrictions, but to proactively guarantee the right via legislation signed Monday. NPR
Meanwhile in Oklahoma, lawmakers passed a bill that would make performing an abortion a felony punishable by 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. The bill's impact is expected to be felt in both the state and Texas, where thousands of women have relied on legal abortion in Oklahoma. The Guardian
- Long-term consequences. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is placing some of the blame for Russia's invasion of Ukraine on past European leaders: specifically, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and longtime German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He says the pair set policies of "14 years of concessions to Russia"—most notably, a 2008 decision to block Ukraine's path to NATO membership. Politico
- Pay delay. New York City’s salary transparency law was to take effect in May, but the city council may delay the its enforcement to November 1 and limit the bill's scope. The law requires that businesses with five or more employees post their minimum and maximum wage range in job postings. Some business groups pushed back against the law, arguing the bill was rushed from public hearing to voting. The transparency law is intended to narrow the gender pay gap, especially for women of color. Bloomberg
- Over and out. More than 15 women of color have left the BBC in the past year alone, saying they’re “exhausted” from fighting a system that doesn’t support them. Many sources point to a culture that allegedly favors white management and privately-educated staff, casting aside a generation of older women of color. The majority of departures come from the BBC’s news and D&I units. Variety
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Ann Sarnoff is reportedly set to leave her role as CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group as WarnerMedia finalizes its merger with Discovery. Big Valley Marketing hired Katie Huang Shin as its president. Brightcove appointed Diane Hessan as its chairman of the board. MX hired Kimberly Cassady as its chief people officer.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Keeps on giving. Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the subject of a recent Fortune feature story, has largely focused her $12.4 billion in giving on U.S. organizations. But $3.9 billion of her recent donations went to nonprofits based outside the U.S. Bloomberg
- Trump testimony. Ivanka Trump is expected to testify virtually before the Jan. 6 committee, which has been trying to secure an interview with her since January. Lawmakers will question Trump on her father's efforts to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to reject 2020 election results. Although her testimony will be private, public hearings will begin this summer. HuffPost
-Under fire. Google sparked backlash for its abrupt dismissal of Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, the co-heads of its artificial intelligence ethics team, after clashing over the company's research on marginalized groups. Now, the tech giant has released another paper on the very same topic that led to the ouster of the two women. Bloomberg
- Fertile future. Future Family, a startup that aims to make fertility services more accessible, has raised a $25 million series B led by Munich Re Ventures, TriVentures, MS&AD Ventures and ORIX. The company partners with clinics to set pricing and offers patients 60-month loan plans that help to cover medical costs such as procedures, lab work and medications. Future Family saw a 300% jump last year in the volume of patients that its financing. TechCrunch
ON MY RADAR
Bidens to host White House wedding reception for granddaughter Naomi in November CNN
I have studied Child Protective Services for decades. It needs to be abolished Mother Jones
How Serena Williams saved her own life Elle
Plus-size fitness fans call for more-inclusive sports gear Wall Street Journal
"I do not need to spell out what these so-called filtration camps are reminiscent of. It’s chilling, and we cannot look away."
- U.S. ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, discussing new "filtration camps" where Ukranians are being taken in Russia.
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