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SILICON

VALLEY’S
MORALITY
CRASH
Sarah Lacy, Pando.com/ChairmanMom.com
WHERE WE
ARE…
Yes, the • Only 3% of venture backed companies have female
CEOs. (Black male founders got 2% and black women

Valley is did not register in the data.)
• 98% of VCs on senior investing teams are white or

sexist. Asian males.
• Across the largest tech companies, women make up
one-third of the workforce. But in the highest-earning,
highest-profile engineering ranks that falls to just 10%
• Pay gap for women in tech is as high as 28% at the
engineer level (Uber actually wrote an internal program
to exploit this and pay women as little as possible!)
• This is getting worse not better.
No, it’s not • In 1981 women outpaced men earning the most college
degrees

a pipeline • By 2026, it’s expected to be at a ratio of 3:2
• At Stanford and UC Berkeley 50% of the introductory
problem. computer science students are women.
• According to USA Today, top universities graduate black
and Hispanic computer science and engineering students
at twice the rate tech companies actually hire them.
• Out of 5,300 women with engineering degrees surveyed
by the National Science Foundation, nearly 40% were not
working as engineers.
• For every 100 women promoted to manager, 130 men are
promoted
• Only 20% of women at the VP level are in line to become
CEOs
Data:White • Less than 5% of white men surveyed said a lack of
diversity was a “top problem” in tech.

men in tech • Only 25% were aware of any formal efforts to make
their companies more inclusive

largely • 40% were sick of hearing about it

DGAF L • 80% of female VCs said they’d witnessed sexism in
tech; only 28% of men did.
• Nearly 50% of non-white founders had witnessed
racism; only 10% of white founders had.
• THIS IS HAPPENING WHETHER YOU HAVE SEEN IT OR
NOT.
• 45% of investors still blame the pipeline. (Sigh)
Bro culture • “The hard-driving bro culture [confuses] the pursuit of
money with the pursuit of masculinity.” -- Joan

is a form of Williams
• Men are victims in bro-land too: “Real man syndrome”

toxic and “precarious manhood” requires masculinity has to
be earned over and over again.

masculinity • How? Bigger valuations, more laws broken, more risk
taken.
• It isn’t a surprise that much toxic masculinity has lead
to over-the-top sexual harassment. It’s another thrilling
risk.
In the
• First Round found companies with female founders
performed 63% better than all-male teams; Kauffman

Valley, toxic
Foundation found female tech entrepreneurs generated
35% higher returns; and Women.VC found that female
VCs also posted higher returns on average.
masculinity • Gender diverse teams perform far better

> data • 50 hours a week is the most you can work without
increased risk of cardiovascular issues, relationship
problems, weigh gain, depression, injury and plenty of
other issues
• Productivity also declines after 50 a week.
• The Monthly Labor Review found that people who
believe they work 75+ hrs a week were off by as much as
25 hours
In 2017, the
toxic
masculinity
bubble has
finally
popped.
HOW DID WE
GET HERE?
Rape • 43% of female undergrad students at Stanford
experience sexual assault or sexual misconduct.

culture at • By attending one fraternity party a month, a woman’s
odds of sexual assault go up by more than 30%. They

Silicon have to go to the location of greatest danger.
• And yet, sororities at Stanford can only have parties
Valley’s with alcohol if they do them at Fraternity houses.

feeder • “If I told you your child has a 43 percent chance of
experiencing a gunshot wound at Stanford, you

schools wouldn’t send them there. But for some reason, with
sexual assault, it’s just seen as the cost of doing
business” -- Michele Dauber, Stanford Law
Stanford
GSB’s
“positive
sexuality”
Faulty • “If you look at [Amazon founder Jeff] Bezos, or
[Netscape founder Marc] Andreessen, [Yahoo

pattern cofounder] David Filo, the founders of Google, they all
seem to be white, male, nerds who’ve dropped out of

recognition Harvard or Stanford and they absolutely have no social
life. That correlates more with any other success factor
that I’ve seen in the world’s greatest entrepreneurs.” --
John Doerr in 2008 encouraging bias to get good
returns (and forgetting Asian Yahoo co-founder Jerry
Yang )

• …. BUT STEVE JOBS!
Cult of the • The legend of Sean Parker and the social game of
venture capital

founder • Founder control has led to a culture of no board
oversight
• VCs believed they were investing in Travis Kalanick, not
Uber. It was only after years of scandal, rampant
sexism, potentially criminal actions to silence critics,
allegedly stealing trade secrets, a DOJ investigation
that the two became divisible. (And several board
members and 1,000 Uber employees want him back)
Disruption! • When you are funded to break laws, how do you decide
which laws are the ones that are OK to break?
• Uber was celebrated for breaking laws when it came to
taxis. Why are we surprised the same culture is
breaking other laws like sexual harassment and
stealing trade secrets?
• Toxic masculinity breeds in cultures that fetishize
disruption– it’s all about taking the bigger risk,
breaking the most laws
• A generation of entrepreneurs were told to asking
“forgiveness not permission.” And we’re shocked
they’re grabbing women?
No • VCs kept assuming there would be an economic crash
and that would drive a lot of these excesses out of the

economic system, just like post-2000.
• But it never came: Low interest rates and a glut of

crash foreign capital have kept this party going
• This has allowed “startups” to stay private longer,
leading to higher valuations than we’ve seen in Silicon
Valley history and no accountability over those
companies.
• It’s like giving a mischievous toddler a bag of sugar
instead of a time out
"They looked • Both Trump and Uber launch personal attacks on
female journalists to silence them
from Travis • Both Trump and Uber routinely lie.

to Trump and • Both blame and shame their own victims of sexual
assault. (Trump: She isn’t attractive enough! Uber: She
from Trump was dressed provocatively!)

to Travis, but
• Both had a protected inner circle of bros who are above
the law

it was • Enablers and apologists say both Trump and Travis just
need “to grow up”
impossible to • From “Witch Hunts” to “fake news” Valley bros are

say which increasingly using the same language Trump does

was which"
Unfortunately
• “The same way a flu shot mobilizes the immune
system, he is helping us find our voice. He will be the

for bros,
catalyst who helps us make a major leap forward
around equality….One hundred percent of the women I

Donald
know have experienced sexual harassment. We keep it
in the dark.” – Julie Hanna

Trump • The careerism feminism of “Lean In” is no longer
sufficient in a world where our rights are being taken

energized away.
• Women of my generation want to be identified as
feminism female founders for the first time, and fight for other
female founders
The post- • Ellen Pao was our Anita Hill moment, where a woman
stood up in a court of law and said what we’d all

Ellen Pao experienced wasn’t OK.
• Susan Fowler risked her career coming forward and

world brought down the most untouchable bro in Valley
history
• The victims of Binary Capital went on the record, and
within weeks toppled the entire firm.
• These women have increasingly been treated like
heroes, not pariahs.
• This is a seismic shift. This has never happened in the
Valley before.
WHERE DO
WE GO FROM
HERE?
What men • This isn’t your conversation to lead (KELSO!)
• Just because you haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean it isn’t

need to stop rampant
• Beware the walk back! Don’t say someone is a “good
doing guy” because of a momentary apology
• Don’t hire or *give a favorable review* to a known
predator
• The following phrases are all red flags: ”It was a phase”
“That was locker room talk” “Boys will be boys!” “This
CEO of a multibillion dollar company just needs to
grow up!” ”If a woman is saying it– It can’t be sexist!”
”This doesn’t happen here!”
What • No more cool girl-ism.

women need • Never say: “Well, he’s never done that to me…”

to stop • Feeling shame: No matter what you were wearing, no

doing matter where it happened, a man exploiting a massive
power asymmetry to hit on you or grope you makes
him a predator. Period.
What men • Pioneer the use of software systems to anonymously
record the details of abuse or harassment when it

need to start occurs and detects patterns
• If you know you have a predator– fire him before a

doing journalist calls. Because more is coming out everyday.
• Don’t ever say these words: “We don’t have a problem
with sexism and racism!” Instead: Do an investigation
to uncover the truth.
• VCs: Hire more than one female partner and force
startups to have inclusion EARLY.
• If you have a power position at a major university
demand action on sexual assault
(Or put more simply…)
What • Speaking up.
• Receipts! Paper trails are bringing predators down.

women need • Find a local network of women to help you (or create

to keep
one)
• Amplify other women when they come forward. Make

doing them heroes.
• If you come forward to HR or the press, know what
your goal is
• Fear of being called an “attention whore” is the
patriarchy’s voice in your head. Silence it.
• We probably need a big, painful legal win.
Remember…

You. Are. Not. Alone.
sarah@sarahlacy.com

(Everyone else: @sarahcuda on
Twitter)