One of Silicon Valley’s top VC firms finally hired a woman investor
Less than a year after Sequoia Capital chairman Sir Michael Moritz said the firm was not prepared to “lower our standards” to hire more women, the global VC giant has hired Jessica Lee, CEO and co-founder of the fashion commerce company Polyvore, as its first female investing partner.
Lee is an admired Silicon Valley veteran who worked at Google in the mid-2000s before launching Polyvore in 2008. Yahoo acquired Polyvore last summer in a roughly $200 million deal.
In a statement provided to VICE News by Sequoia on Thursday, Lee said she “couldn’t be more excited to join Sequoia to help the next generation of founders build transformative companies.”
Last winter after Moritz made those remarks, he quickly backed away from them, but they set off a firestorm in Silicon Valley about the overwhelming maleness of the VC industry. According to a study last year, “Less than a third of venture capital firms in the United States employ a single woman to conduct business or participate in investment decisions.”
Major players like Accel Partners and Redpoint Ventures still don’t have any women on their investing teams.
Just a handful of top-flight firms, like Greylock Partners and Kleiner Perkins, have multiple women investors. And a wave of firms staffed only or mostly by women has emerged in the last few years to combat the dearth of women in venture capital. One notable example is Cowboy Ventures, an early investor in the startup Dollar Shave Club, which was acquired by Unilever for $1 billion this past July.
But venture capital and the tech industry as a whole have a long way to go before they come to anything resembling gender parity. At Facebook (in which Sequoia was an early investor), 33 percent of the global staff are women. And at Google, another tech heavyweight that was backed early on by Sequoia, that number is 31 percent.