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From black swan memos and heart-to-hearts to not-so-subtle emails demanding recorded confirmations that your startup actually has revenue, investors have a lot to say about the downturn.
And yet, it’s a quieter, more realistic truth that’s come to my attention lately: For various founders, decline is nothing new. Some investors, primarily those focused on backing historically overlooked founders, say the crackdown on tech companies doesn’t hit diverse founders as hard as their overfunded, homogenous counterparts because of preexisting biases.
All Raise CEO Mandela Sh. Dixon, who joined the Equity podcast after its annual summit, told TechCrunch that women and racially diverse investors, founders and operators don’t have “the doom and gloom mentality because we’re used to we do it’. more with less.”
“We’re so used to not having access to that flow of capital that we’ve already adapted and built up the muscle and capacity to weather a lot of the storms that more privileged founders have like this endless flow of capital and access to advice and insider information.” with which there was no business, she said. “We as women and as women of color have a long history of weathering storms, so this is nothing new for us.”
Dixon’s point — that minority founders may be more prepared for a retreat because they’ve already experienced one — feels both accurate and nuanced. Yes, diverse founders still receive disproportionately less venture capital funding than their homogenous counterparts, making them smarter with their money. We have multiple studies spanning years that show women and diverse teams can be more capital efficient.
At the same time, if even the small dollars that go their way are at risk, won’t the industry slide further and further away from a fairer place?
For the rest of my thoughts on this topic, check out my TechCrunch+ column: “For Diverse Founders, Decline Is Nothing New.” In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll talk about the myth of the girl-boss moniker, a nuance to all these layoffs, and a deal that may have slipped under your radar this week. As always, you can support me by forwarding this newsletter to a friend or follow me on twitter or subscribe to my blog.
Deal of the week
In Equity this week, we talked about a venture-backed startup that has raised even more capital to make cards mainstream. Felt, co-founded by Sam Hashemi and Can Duruk, allows users to build a map with datasets integrated into it and work with each other to show impact in a less static way than your average Google Maps query.
Here’s why it’s important: The co-founders cited proven business models from Figma and Notion, both valued in the billions, as a reason to believe in their work. Both of the aforementioned companies have managed to launch to personal users, then pivot to the enterprise, a playbook that Felt wants to follow (and which VCs can certainly speak the language of).
“This kind of business model and going to market is — I don’t want to say immune, but it’s a little removed from the kind of market fluctuations that we see,” Hashemi said in an interview. “It’s not really about consumer spending, it’s not about advertising business, it’s just a day-to-day business that businesses rely on.”
How the ‘girl boss’ myth is hurting emerging women in tech
If there’s one story you read this weekend, make it this one. My colleagues Anita Ramaswamy and Amanda Silberling wrote about the boss girl myth and how it affects women in tech. They explore how “once a vaguely aspirational term of praise reserved only for wealthy white women, the moniker now reflects a maddening contradiction in workplace feminism: We know that it’s not enough to simply be a woman with power, and that what we do with that power is very more important than just mastering it.”
Here’s why it’s important: The story puts into words much of the irony, emotion and impact of why this term frustrates so many people. Here are two excerpts that stand out:
There’s a difference between the evolution of feminism in the outside world, juxtaposed with the frustratingly slow pace at which Silicon Valley realizes that a female CEO shouldn’t be a novelty. Outside of work, women are championing an intersectional feminism that is trans-inclusive, uplifting for people of color, and advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. But in the startup culture, being a woman in itself is seen as subversive.
And this from Shruti Bharat, who recently served as All Raise’s Interim Executive Director.
“Just because a woman has been oppressed or marginalized or treated differently doesn’t mean she also knows how to fix it or how to talk about it or that she doesn’t support it herself. We always advocate for women to be icons…but the reality is that it takes actual advocacy work and movement and policy building,” Bharat said.
For all these cuts
I know I know. There was a lot of layoff news last month, and June is starting no different. This week we wrote about layoffs at IRL, SWVL, PolicyGenius, Loom, Gemini and Carbon Health.
Here’s why it’s important: At this point, it still feels like news to announce layoffs at venture-backed startups, whether they affect 10% or 50% of staff. I don’t want to get into the game of deciding how many people have to lose their jobs for it to be relevant, but I also realize that it will be difficult to cover every single reduction in the workforce.
One nuance that I want to remind everyone, but especially myself, is that there are layoffs that happen because of market uncertainty, and there are layoffs that happen because of the ability to cite market uncertainty. Questions and reflections are of great importance, and “no comment” speaks volumes.
During the week
Seen on TechCrunch
Seen on TechCrunch+
Until next time,