If you’ve been out and about in Silicon Valley in the last month or so, chances are you’ve heard of “Alpha Girls,” a new book written by journalist Julian Guthrie about four investors who’ve made a big impact on the world of startup investing. The book recognizes them — Theresia Gouw, MJ Elmore, Sonja Hoel Perkins, and Magdalena Yesil — because they are interesting individuals, each with very different upbringings and skill sets and areas of expertise.
But they also succeeded in the venture industry during a time when they were almost always the only woman in the room, or at the conference, or in the middle of a team-building event. Elmore signed on with IVP in 1982, becoming a general partner by age 28. Yesil cofounded the dot com high-flier CyberCash before joining USVP as a partner in 1998. Perkins’s star also rose quickly. By age 29, she was a general partner at Menlo Ventures, staying nearly 22 years before launching her own venture fund. Down the street, Gouw was building a track record at Accel, where she spent 15 years before cofounding her own firm in 2014, Aspect Ventures.
We talked with Guthrie earlier today about these so-called alpha women and how they differ from the many other people who Guthrie has spent time with across her 20-year reporting career with the San Francisco Chronicle, during which time she authored earlier books about Larry Ellison and Peter Diamandis. We asked how much time she spent with each (“I think they were ready to block my calls and texts,” she laughed), and how long she worked on the book, including to write it (roughly two years).
But what we even more wanted to know was whether after working on the book, Guthrie views the venture industry as any more or less welcoming to women than at the outset of her research. “It is not as bad as it’s portrayed, in my opinion,” Guthrie told us. “There are success stories.”
Still, Guthrie noted that each of these investors had to grapple with much that a man might not. Some of these were mundane but constant considerations, including, “Should you take notes or not? When do you speak up? How do you network? Do you go to these boondoggles when it’s all guys?”
Said Guthrie, “Some of these things were shocking to me, coming from my own very gender-neutral experience as a reporter.”
Yet there were other ways they had to alter themselves. She says Elmore quickly learned that if she wore a dress to a board meeting, for example, it would elicit compliments that weren’t necessarily expected, so she soon cut her hair and began wearing suits. Meanwhile, Perkins and Gouw participated in male-dominated events on the theory that you can’t win if you don’t play the game. For Perkins, this meant skiing alongside former Navy Seals when she was still a relative novice on the slopes. For Gouw, it was getting elbowed in the stomach during a competitive game of flag football. It was “not so much about emulating men but steering the spotlight away from their femininity, so it didn’t become a distraction,” Guthrie told us.
Interestingly, one of the more fundamental ways the women seemed to differ from their male colleagues was in their dealings with Guthrie herself, she said. She noted that many of the men she has interviewed — including Ellison, Diamandis, Richard Branson and Elon Musk — have been “happy to talk about their vulnerabilities, because it kind of rounds them out. It softens them in a nice way.” She observed that women who’ve enjoyed success meanwhile have a “much harder time sharing their mistakes, their regrets, their vulnerabilities.” Because women are often provided less room for missteps — or they perceive that they have less room, “I had to tell [the investors] again and again that it was important that we tell the good, bad, and ugly — not because I was seeking scandal but because I wanted these stories to be honest.”
Before we parted ways, we asked Guthrie about women and money, after she volunteered that it’s a “tricky issue for women. If you go after too much, you’re greedy; if you marry someone with money, you’re a gold digger.”
She pointed to a Forbes piece from last summer that called Gouw “America’s richest female venture capitalist.” Gouw apparently felt uneasy about the story and participated in it mostly to draw attention to her work with the advocacy organization she helped cofound, called AllRaise. But as Gouw told Guthrie, it’s had a somewhat surprising impact. “She was a serious player before, but it kind of gave her street cred” with those who pay attention to Forbes’s Midas List and other forms of score-keeping.
It’s a good thing, suggests Guthrie, who has been promoting her book to women in numerous industries, including in homebuilding and law and in medicine. “You see the same barriers across them all,” Guthrie said. “But you’re also seeing these women’s groups and networks becoming more powerful across all these industries, where women are speaking out and creating these sisterhoods.”
They’re agreeing to more hard-earned self-promotion, too. They see it as an increasingly competitive tool, and, as Guthrie puts it, “It’s not boasting when it’s based on fact.”
Pictured above, left to right: Theresia Gouw, Sonja Perkins, MJ Elmore, Magdalena Yesil, and Julian Guthrie.
iPhone 13 is going to be a different deal: Here’s why
It is probably very early to make a claim about the forthcoming iPhone – or a new lineup. But with rumors flowing in from every side of the globe, it’s fitting to touch upon certain aspects that’ll make the iPhone 13 a different deal. Presumably, and various sources confirm, the 2021 iPhones will not have a dramatic change in the layout to outrightly contrast the already revamped and exciting iPhone 12 line introduced in fall last year, but some notable changes in features are expected to make things interesting.
A while back we talked about Cupertino company’s intentions – and directional work-in-progress – to tap on the foldable fad of the smartphone industry. Apple is working on prototypes of foldable displays, we said, but there has been no progress in developing a foldable handset per se. It’ll be overly jealous to expect Apple to roll out a foldable iPhone to take on the likes of Samsung, Motorola, and Huawei this year.
Apple for 2021 – given the slow production progress due to the pandemic – is going to stick to the single screen iPhones. These have been the main stake of the marque and that is how it is most likely to stay this year as well.
In that accord, there are rumors of Apple going with the iPhone 12S moniker for the next iPhone with minor changes. This has been a case with phones in the past where, for instance, the iPhone 5S, 6S, and XS have followed their beefed-up predecessors with minimal design alterations and something of sorts could transpire this time. It still won’t be a good bet to count out a line of new flagship devices which would be the iPhone 13 series, we believe. Let’s touch on a few things expected to make it a big deal at launch.
Touch ID makes comeback within the screen
In-screen fingerprint sensor would sound unfamiliar for the iPhone, it has been a feature that’s ruled Android smartphones for years now. There is a possibility, in 2021, for the iPhones to upgrade to this important feature. Important because in the pandemic when it’s not been easy for users wearing masks to login using Face ID, fingerprint sensor could offer another way for them to log in to their device.
Yes, Apple introduced an update to facilitate facial recognition when user is wearing a mask, the feature would still have its merits expecting we would have to keep our faces covered for an unforeseeable future. The return of Touch ID built under the screen wouldn’t affect the presence of Face ID – it is going to stay – fingerprint scanner is just going to be an alternate method for biometric authentication.
Display with tapered notch
Despite claims from some Chinese suppliers that the “enclosure design of the iPhone 13” will be same as the iPhone 12; rumors have it that the forthcoming iPhones will feature display with a slightly smaller notch. The likeliness of a less intrusive front-facing camera is countered by two claims: the notch will be less wide, or the notch would be of the same size in width but of smaller height.
However that pans out, there could be a distinguishable difference, but notably notch with Face ID sensor is there to stay. A reduction in height, which is more likely, going by multiple rumors, will intend to make the notch less noticeable, which means a new Face ID camera module is likely. In that context, a report via DigiTimes points at the supply of new Face ID module by Foxconn and Korea-based LG Innotek, while the front-facing camera modules are expected to be supplied by O-Film.
Higher refresh rates likely
120Hz and at times 144Hz screen refresh rates have been a common setting on smartphones from Apple’s direct competitors. While that should have deterred the brand and forced it to introduce 120Hz displays in the iPhone 12 series – but that didn’t happen – the current Apple flagships make up for this high response time with their OLED displays and fast processing.
That said, 2021 iPhones could rollout with a higher screen refresh rate – at least 120Hz is on the cards. If Apple was to pull this off, it would be doubling the refresh rates from 60Hz on the iPhone 12 line, which is going to be a welcoming upgrade for fanboys.
Port-less iPhone is all wireless
Apple has done away with the power adaptor in the box. Next in line is likely the charging port, which may not find a place on the upcoming iPhone. The idea is to offer iPhones that are powered wirelessly alone. As a step in that direction, Apple has already delivered magnetic MagSafe charging tech in iPhone 12, and according to eminent leaker Jon Prosser, Apple’s ultimate “goal is port-less.”
In all likeliness, a port-less future is fancy and all that, but to make wireless the only powering norm, Apple will have to drastically modify the wireless charging speeds for users to accept the change wholeheartedly.
Upgrades for mobile photography
iPhone 12 Pro models come with some exciting improvements on the camera front. Rumors suggest upgrades are likely in the new lineup of iPhones led by expected iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max variants getting a larger sensor, which camera in the triple lens setup would that be is not clear.
Additionally, the sensor-shift stabilization featured in iPhone 12 Pro Max is likely to reach the entry models of the iPhone 13 as well, which will be a remarkable improvement promising more stable images in every light condition.
Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a great record with predicting forthcoming features in Apple devices believes, the ultra-wide lenses on iPhone 13 Pro models see increase in aperture from f/2.4 to f/1.8 to allow more light to enter the lens and deliver improved photographs.
According to another rumor, there’s a possibility of improved zoom capabilities on the upcoming iPhones with a periscope camera system, while LiDAR scanner presently in the iPhone 12 Pros could trickle down to all the possible variants of the new iPhone in 2021.
Google Search on mobile is about to get a big visual redesign
Google is about to roll out a redesigned Search on mobile, the company said in a blog post today, explaining the adjustments users can expect. Google describes the updated UI as a ‘major visual redesign,’ one that is intended to simplify things for users, bringing ‘information into focus,’ improving the readability of text, and more.
First things first, Google says the redesigned Search interface on mobile makes it easier for users to focus on the content, reducing some of the clutter from design elements. Beyond that, the redesign is also intended to make it easier for users to read content as they browse.
The text has been made bolder and larger, the result of which is easier scanning across search results for the content you want. Google has also added more of its own font into the mix, the one you see on Gmail and Android devices.
“Bringing consistency to when and how we use fonts in Search was important, too, which also helps people parse information more efficiently,” explained Google’s Aileen Cheng, who led the redesign. Beyond that, Google’s redesign uses color to highlight important things in search, emphasizing content first with colors used ‘more intentionally’ in places to guide the user’s eyes.
Shadow use has been minimized and results now span edge-to-edge, ultimately providing more ‘visual space,’ according to Aileen. Rounding it all out is the use of roundness in new places, something that better reflects the same roundness we see in the Google logo.
Google says the updated design will roll out on Search for mobile in coming days.
Pinterest’s new AR feature lets you try on virtual eyeshadow
Shopping online is the primary way people get most of the items they want or need, but there are some downsides: you can’t try on clothes to make sure they’ll fit right and it’s not easy to determine whether a particular makeup color will look good on you. Pinterest has introduced another feature that addresses the latter problem, one that lets you virtually try-on eye shadow before buying it.
The feature is called ‘AR Try on,’ and it is now available for eyeshadows from a few brands: NYX Cosmetics, Urban Decay, Lancome, and YSL. Eyeshadow products listed on Pinterest that are included in this feature will show a small ‘Try on’ button in the bottom right corner of the image, as well as a camera icon.
Tapping this will pull up your phone’s camera in the app, where you’ll be able to scroll through different eyeshadow color options and see them realistically overlaid on your eyelids. The feature is powered by Pinterest’s Lens feature and is available on both iOS and Android.
The platform includes options for filtering the results to specific brands, price ranges, and color, as well as seeing similar products and saving items to a board. The new feature joins Pinterest’s Try on feature for lipstick, which works in the same way and currently includes more than 4,000 lipstick shades.
Users who decide to purchase a product they try on will be directed to the retailer’s website for the transaction, Pinterest notes. This is the latest expansion of the company’s augmented reality features, the most notable being its Lens tool. With this, users can point their phone’s camera at an object, then browse through results featuring similar content.
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