Bill Maris, the chief executive of Alphabet’s early-stage investment arm, Google Ventures, said today that the next general partner his firm hires should be a woman. In responding to recent controversy surrounding Sequoia Capital’s Mike Moritz’s statements about hiring women, Maris said that the situation has caused his firm to think about improving diversity.
“We could all do better,” he said. “We have one female general partner at GV.” When pressed by Bloomberg’s Emily Chang about why, Maris bluntly answered: “It’s not good enough. Because we’ve failed. Because we haven’t succeeded in finding women for that role, probably because it was easier to find men. That’s not really a great answer.”
Much has been said about the lack of female roles within the venture capital space, and the need for greater parity for women and minorities. Just read this report from USA Today about how the venture capital community is finally beginning to try to address the diversity issue. And let’s not forget what happened earlier this year: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers found itself thrust under the spotlight when it was sued by former employee Ellen Pao for sexual harassment. Later on, that same firm’s senior partner, John Doerr, had to apologize for an “unfortunate joke” made about two new partners.
Google Ventures recently published its year-end review, revealing that the firm has shuttered its European arm and is opting to pursue a single, global investment fund. That particular office was started 18 months ago with a $100 million fund, but it’s now part of the larger firm.
To Maris’ point, there currently is only one female general partner at Google Ventures: Avid Larizadeh Duggan. She’s the lone female out of a total of 13 general partners. However, in looking at the firm’s website, 25 percent of those with “partner” in their title are female, out of a group of 46 people, including those in engineering, design, marketing, operations, and recruiting.
It’s important to note that there’s no timeline for the hiring of a female general partner, as the firm isn’t actively looking to hire right now. However, “we have a commitment to look harder,” Maris said. “One of the things we should do is commit to saying the next general partner we hire should be a woman. I’m happy to make that commitment.”