Exclusive: Female founders navigated a tough 2022 market, but saw funding fall only 28% compared to a 37% average

Anu Duggal, founding partner at Female Founders Fund.
Courtesy of Female Founders Fund

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The LSU Tigers win their first NCAA title, Sanna Marin loses Finland’s election, and female founders weren’t immune to last year’s economic climate—but they’re displaying resilience. Have a productive Monday.

– Resilient founders. In 2022, female founders saw U.S. venture funding fall 28%. But that stat illustrated resilience; overall, startups saw a 37% decline in venture funding. That’s from a new analysis of Crunchbase and PitchBook data released by the venture capital firm Female Founders Fund, Fortune is the first to report.

The data show that while female founders have been affected by the economic climate, they haven’t been disproportionately impacted. That’s a welcome discovery following fears that underrepresented founders would bear the brunt of VCs’ retreat.

“Many of these female founders have not had as easy access to capital as their male peers, which has made them better equipped to navigate a difficult fundraising environment,” says Female Founders Fund founding partner Anu Duggal. “As a result, they have been able to adjust their business models, shifting their focus from growth at all costs to prioritizing profitability.”

In total, companies with at least one female founder received 18.4% of U.S. venture funding, or $42.6 billion.

Female founders have shown their resilience in other ways, Female Founders Fund found. They use 25% less capital per month than other founders—a useful approach to running a business in an environment in which the average time between a seed and Series A round has increased by five months.

The value of exits for female-founded companies fell from a total value of $73.3 billion in 2021 to $10.9 billion in 2022, in line with industry trends. Still, women-led businesses claimed a greater share of total exit value last year. Female-founded startups represented 18.2% of the 2022 exit value, up from 9.5% a year earlier.

Overall, women-led startups have not been immune to market trends. But the economic downturn hasn’t quashed all the progress female-founded companies have made in recent years. While there were only 13 new women-led unicorns in 2022—markedly less than the 83 in 2021 and out of a total of 332—that’s still more than the four women-led startups valued at more than $1 billion in 2013.

Emma Hinchliffe

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- We are the champions.  The LSU Tigers won the NCAA women’s basketball national championship yesterday, defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes 102-85. The win is the LSU program's first. Iowa star Caitlin Clark set a new record for most points scored in the women's tournament. The women's Final Four set record viewership ratings and ticket prices soared well above those for the men's competition. CNN

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- Networking gap. Men add an average of 26% more LinkedIn connections than women each month, according to the platform. That networking gender gap could contribute to further opportunity gap, as men have larger LinkedIn networks to tap when needed. Fortune


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- On air. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, known as a far-right conspiracy theorist, sat down for a 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl last night. The program was criticized for featuring Greene. During the interview, Greene doubled down on calling Democrats pedophiles. CBS News


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IVF, Ozempic, and cutting through my cycle of shame Cosmopolitan

Yellowjackets shows us the teenage girlhood we were hungry for New York Times


"I didn’t want her to be trans or cis. I just wanted her to be a woman climbing up the ladder. I wanted to show every little girl around the world that you are capable of being a boss."

—Michaela Jaé Rodriguez on why she didn't specify the gender identity of her character on the Apple TV+ series Loot

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