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.
Hubble Snaps Stunning Pictures Of Colliding Galaxies
In its latest exploratory hunt covering the Arp-Madore territory, the Hubble telescope found something remarkable in the Arp-Madore 417-391 collision event. What is truly noteworthy is the intensity of the galactic interaction and the strong gravitational forces at play here. The pair of galaxies have contorted each other, a forming a ring-like structure, while their cores sit side by side. Personally, I think the cosmic duo looks more like a pair of wireless over-the-ear headphones like Sony’s acclaimed WH-1000 XM4 cans.
The formation of ring-like structures at a galactic scale, especially in the events of merger between two galaxies, is quite rare. According to estimates, there are only a few hundred documented in Earth’s cosmic neighborhood. A ring formation at such a massive scale is nothing short of a chance event, because the interacting galaxies have to collide at just the right angle and orientation to form such a structure (via LiveScience).
The ring’s outline is usually made up of young blue stars, serving somewhat like an elongated genesis chamber of stars. However, rings generated from galactic collisions are rather short-lived (on a cosmic time scale, that is), and usually lose their distinct structure a few hundred million years.
Today’s Wordle Answer #526 – November 27, 2022 Solution And Hints
The solution to today’s Wordle puzzle ( #526 – November 27, 2022) is “happy.” Its most popular meaning is to be glad or pleased, but the root word “hap” means chance or fortune, and that’s why the word “happy” is also used to mean lucky, fortunate or providential circumstances or unforeseen success (via Merriam-Webster).
We solved the puzzle in four tries today — the first two guesses, ounce and plait, were an attempt to eliminate all the vowels early on, which is our preferred Wordle-solving strategy. Those two whittled down the possible answers from 383 to just eight, and the third guess, debug, reduced that further to three. The word happy was our lucky fourth guess, and what made us even happier is that it took WordleBot the same number of tries to solve the puzzle. We hope you do it even faster, and if you’re looking for more puzzles to try your hand at, check out these other games like Wordle.
Orion Capsule Breaks Record Of Farthest Spacecraft Traveled From Earth
“It just so happened that with that really large orbit, high altitude above the moon, we were able to pass the Apollo 13 record,” Jim Geffre, Orion vehicle integration manager at NASA, said of the Orion’s record-breaking journey. On Monday, Nov. 28, Orion will reach a peak distance of 268,553 miles before the orbital manoeuvring system engine kicks in and propels it toward another close flyby with the Moon in the first week of December. Six days later, the vehicle is expected to return home.
According to NASA, the Orion is “built to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before.” The Orion capsule has been co-engineered with Lockheed Martin, and it is touted to be the only vehicle capable of manned deep space mission and returning back to Earth at high speed from targets such as the Moon and beyond. With the Artemis project, NASA is actually aiming for the first crewed visit to the Mars, as well.
Capable of carrying four crew members, the capsule employs a total of 355,056 parts and can support missions lasting up to 21 days in its current state (via NASA). The capsule has systems for monitoring and maintaining aspects like humidity, carbon dioxide, oxygen, and radiation shielding, among other vital elements. Interestingly, the Orion’s base also features the world’s largest ablative heat shield that measures 16.5-feet in diameter and will protect the vehicle when it makes high-speed entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
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