If you’re not winning, life will always seem horribly unfair. Women and minorities complain that the tech industry is an impenetrable animal house. Others complain about losing job opportunities to H-1B workers and diversity hires. But nothing seems more unjust than the venture capital industry, a circular institution that advertises meritocracy while celebrating a bunch of bros funding bros.
Silicon Valley is indeed insular and unfair. But hey, so is the whole rest of the world. The industry-disrupters of tomorrow should be the last ones demanding kid-glove treatment.
Here’s venture capitalist Mark Suster on getting access to the Old Boys’ club:
It may sound harsh but in reality I think it’s true. If you can’t get a warm introduction to a VC then how on Earth are you going to break down the doors to get to the VP of Sales, Biz Dev or Marketing in the organization that you’re looking to sell your products to to or develop partnerships with?
If you’re not assertive and creative enough to get through a VC’s doors then how are you going to get the most sought after journalists to write your stories or the most skeptical buyers to part with their hard-earned cash?
I might add: If you can’t tell an inappropriate investor to take a hike, how are you going to fire underperforming employees? If you can’t speak up about sexual harassment (until years later) for fear of retaliation, how are you going to defend your company against a media hatchet job?
There’s a saying in the industry, Outcomes are Binary. Either you’re building a billion-dollar company or you’re not. If you’re not building a billion-dollar company, you have the wrong business model for venture capital.
Raising money can be hard, but it’s the least-hard part of growing a startup. And if you can’t navigate the racist sexist VC circuit, you have a snowflake’s chance in hell of building a billion-dollar company.
Note: I don’t actually think Silicon Valley investors are sexist or racist. The ones in question mistreat male founders just as readily as they abuse women and minorities. That makes them assholes, not bigots.