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There are a few high-profile female entrepreneurs in the Bay Area, but despite the very visible success of corporate titans Meg Whitman, Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer, who signed up with companies after they took off—their numbers are relatively minuscule.
Despite that discouraging fact, the two women spent their 20s deep inside the valley’s bro community—a culture that has been described as savagely misogynistic.
They found pro bono lawyers with startup expertise, signed contracts, designed and revised their Power Point pitch a dozen times and met with more than 50 potential investors. They had 1,500 clients wait-listed for a beta launch.
They attracted interest at five large technology companies, including Twitter.
Four months later, the hustler won the project’s first investor, a woman who works at one the world’s biggest hedge funds.
It was a small sum, but the entrepreneurs quit their jobs the next day, setting up camp in a donated corner of another startup’s loft office above San Francisco’s Union Square. In the ensuing months, the pair eschewed new clothes, walked instead of Ubered and assembled a small, mostly unpaid staff.
Settle worked at The Mayfield Fund, among the oldest VC firms in tech, before moving on to co-found a VC firm named Greycroft Partners.
The legendary names of Silicon Valley are well known, and for the most part, the men behind the names look like this: geeky, in jeans and T-shirt, maybe with a hoodie, maybe shaving, maybe a college dropout, coding since early pubescence in the upper-middle-class parental basement.
That CMEA partner is no longer with the firm, and Tinder temporarily suspended the executive involved.
In inverse ratio to the forward-looking technology the community produces, it is stunningly backward when it comes to gender relations.
Google “Silicon Valley” and “frat boy culture” and you’ll find dozens of pages of articles and links to mainstream news articles, blogs, screeds, letters, videos and tweets about threats of violence, sexist jokes and casual misogyny, plus reports of gender-based hiring and firing, major-league sexual harassment lawsuits and a financing system that rewards young men and shortchanges women.
Like most 28-year-olds in Silicon Valley, they had smarts and dreams.
One was a passionate, fast-talking New Yorker, the other a shy computer whiz from Syracuse, New York, and together they formed the classic hacker-hustler team behind many of the valley’s Next Big Things. That afternoon, over lunch in the California sun, they committed to an ambitious business plan.