Good morning, Broadsheet readers! A Florida bill could ban girls from discussing their periods at school, the SVB crisis turned one founder into a social media star, and Fortune senior editor Claire Zillman shares a new story that digs into Chief, the women’s networking startup worth $1.1 billion. Have a productive Monday.
– Inside Chief. You would think that launching a women’s network shortly before COVID hit would have doomed the venture; we were barely leaving our homes, let alone schmoozing with strangers. But Chief, the exclusive, $5,800-per-year-and-up networking club for female executives, defied that conventional wisdom. Since launching in 2019, it’s grown to 20,000 members, amassed a waiting list of 60,000, and earned a valuation of $1.1 billion from backers like Alphabet’s VC fund CapitalG.
In a new story for Fortune, contributor Katherine Dunn digs into Chief’s pandemic-era success and some of the growing pains members claim it’s experiencing as it scales. (Editor’s note: Fortune offers its own membership groups for executives, including one for women.)
Cofounders Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan sought to provide exclusivity and group coaching to female executives—vice presidents and up. As COVID hit, it pivoted to digital, conducting its key offering—”Core” groups or cohorts of eight to 12 women who meet once a month—online. Compared to startups like the now-defunct Wing, Chief was light on real estate, another COVID-era advantage.
Dunn interviewed 15 current and former Chief members for her story. Several credit Chief with helping spark incredible shifts in their careers. New York City member Sandhya Jain-Patel says her fellow Chief members coached her through the process of landing her dream job as manager of diversity and inclusion at Lucasfilm.
Yet other members interviewed for the story say they’re having a hard time seeing Chief’s value beyond the initial introductions it makes. They claim the network is suffering from high turnover and hit-or-miss matchmaking and failing to fulfill its mission to remake corporate leadership.
Chief, for its part, acknowledged “growing pains,” and says it has addressed operational glitches. It says claims of high turnover are false and that it’s making a real difference in women’s careers.
What’s certain is that Chief has hit on a powerful observation: Senior women in corporate America are stressed out, often lonely, and eager to connect with peers who understand the demands of their jobs.
You can read the full story here.
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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- SVB star. During the Silicon Valley Bank crisis, Omsom cofounder Vanessa Pham unexpectedly became a social media star. She shared the hour-by-hour reality of navigating the fallout of the banking crisis in a way that resonated with her Asian sauce kit startup's community online. Fortune
- Single life. A record 52% of American women are single. That number helps to break down social stigmas against singlehood—but also stresses the personal finances of women. Three-quarters of Americans say it is more affordable to be in a relationship, with the opportunity to split costs like rent and utilities. Fortune
- Safety at sea. Sexual assault at sea is an underreported problem, according to a new investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard. In the past 10 years, the branch has opened 25 criminal investigations into alleged shipboard sexual assault, but there hasn't been a "successful sex crime prosecution of a credentialed mariner in the last 30 years." CNN
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Workwear that works. Sarah LaFleur, the founder and CEO of the women's fashion and workwear brand M.M. LaFleur, shares what inspired her to start her brand. She wanted to escape the private equity industry, which she calls a poor culture fit. Now she's redefining the new era of workwear, including a category called "power casual." Elle
- Silenced conversation. A Florida state bill would bar elementary school students from discussing menstrual cycles and human sexuality, only allowing discussion of those topics after sixth grade. Opponents are outraged that the bill could prevent girls who get their period before sixth grade from discussing the experience. Associated Press
- Meet me at midnight. Taylor Swift's Eras tour kicked off in Glendale, Ariz., over the weekend. The pop star obliquely acknowledged the Ticketmaster drama when she thanked her 150,000 fans in attendance for their "considerable effort" to be there. Small businesses, hotels, and bars all prepared for overwhelming demand in the city temporarily renamed "Swift City." Insider
ON MY RADAR
Why are so many people rewatching Girls? New York Times
What we still don't understand about postpartum psychosis New Yorker
An A.I. told me I had cancer Wired
"You weren’t going to march into a fantastic female protagonist out of SNL in 2002. But there were lots and lots of opportunities on stage."
—Actor Ana Gasteyer on the path her career took after she left Saturday Night Live
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