|Jennifer McFarlane, WTC|
We beat the dead horse Monday, and we’re going to do it again today, but with a twist.
By dead horse, we mean the observation that there’s a tremendous amount of venture capital flowing into the market right now. And by twist, we ask what this could mean for women.
First, today comes news from VentureOne (downloads press release) that venture capital firms raised 16 percent more in the third quarter than they did in the same quarter last year. Notable is that fund sizes are getting bigger. The number of funds isn’t…
growing (only one more fund was raised this past quarter, compared to the same quarter a year ago). Moreover, as VCs compete with each other, they are offering entrepreneurs more money in return for the ownership stake they get. Thus, they are bidding up the value of those companies: Valuations rose to $15.6 million from $13.5 million in the same quarter a year ago. There is pressure building up for VCs to find good companies.
Which brings us to the conference hosted by the Women’s Technology Cluster yesterday, where sentiment was a bit depressing: Women, the panelists said, haven’t made much progress in the world of venture capital. Here is our story about it.
As usual, space in paper edition was limited, so here are other comments: David Ellington, commissioner of the San Francisco Employees Retirement System, which has $13.2 billion invested, a good portion of it into venture capital and buyouts, said: “It’s been very disconcerting. I really don’t understand it.”
Cindy Padnos, partner at Outlook Ventures, a San Francisco venture capital firm, spoke on a panel with two male venture capitalists about investment decisions. She told us later that women are having a tougher time because they don’t know who to ask for mentoring advice. There are fewer female mentors. Like males, they tend to rely on people who they are more comfortable with — but by default, these people are less likely to know how to pitch to investors.
But Jennifer McFarlane, chief executive of WTC, left us with this comment: She said the torrent of money that continues to flow into venture capital will put pressure on male-led firms to think more broadly on how they invest that money, and hopes that will include more women-led companies. And, as CalPERS’ Panda Hershey explained, those female entrepreneurs will gain the experience needed to become a venture capitalists — and things will begin to change, which is what she says she is seeing. So there is hope.