Femstreet's Top Highlights of 2022
Where women in tech lead, shape and fund the future.
Sorry for messing with your inbox zero zen. Welcome to issue #252 of Femstreet and our end of year editorial party celebrating women in tech.
It's time to take stock of the progress we've made and highlight the women who defined the year. 2022 has been an eventful year, full of triumphs and moments that weren’t always easy to navigate. I’m unbelievably grateful for the continued support of our readers and sponsors. Some of my highlights of the past year are the launch of our Talent Collective, getting engaged to my best friend and Femstreet’s first subscriber, a trip to Brazil, and spending more quality time with my family and my online friends IRL across the globe.
Time flies! Check out the Femstreet's Top Highlights of 2021. Play your favourite song, and take a moment to reflect on a year of women making headlines, the women to watch in 2023 and bookmark our most popular company building resources.
Female founders remain resilient during changing market dynamics.
The market made a big turn this year and most companies had to make significant cuts. So far, the numbers say that female founders have not been disproportionately hurt by the decline in funding activity. Companies with at least one female founder have raised about $38B in venture funding in 2022, still the second-highest annual total on record. Is the data painting the real picture though? A recent report by Atomico found that all-female-founder teams will still account for just 1% of the total VC investment in Europe and less than 7% in the US. We think female and underrepresented founders will likely have to spend even more energy and effort on fundraising but continue to build more profitable companies in the long-term that investors will want to back. Who are the newly crowned unicorns of 2022? Women leadership network for VP-level execs Chief raised $100M Series B on a $1.1B valuation. Payments company Stax, co-founded by CEO Suneera Madhani, announced a $245M series D on $1B and Maven Clinic raised $90M at a $1.35B valuation to provide women's healthcare benefits to the masses. There’s been close to zero M&A and IPO activity. Pinterest acquired AI-powered shopping startup The Yes, co-founded by former Stitch Fix exec Julie Bornstein. While the IPO market remains frozen for now, we expect grocery-delivery firm Instacart, led by CEO Fidji Simo, and cyber security company Artic Wolf, co founded by Kim Tremblay, to eye their initial public offerings in 2023.
We’ve seen big moves, promotions & the rise of the Co-CEO
We continue to see meaningful growth in the number of women in decision-making roles at VC firms, but the progress in Europe at the GP level is slow. Worth highlighting are Sarah Cannon who left Index and joined Coatue as GP to lead its European expansion., and Cack Wilhelm was promoted to General Partner at IVP. Grace Isford was promoted to Partner at Lux Capital. Grace Chou joined Maveron as Partner. Amanda Robson was promoted to Partner at Cowboy Ventures. Former Stripe and Notion operator Cristina Cordova joined First Round as Partner. Speedinvest promoted Deepali Nangia from venture partner to full Partner and Sapphire promoted Annalise Dragic to Partner. Ellen Chisa joined Boldstart as Partner. Are co-CEOs the new startup trend? It could be a win-win model for women entrepreneurs. Co-CEOs are rare, especially by choice but a recent Harvard Business Review study of 87 public companies led by co-CEOs found that almost 60% were more profitable than peer organizations with one person in the top spot. Thsi year, Zola’s founder Shan-Lyn Ma appointed Rachel Jarrett as co-CEO. Glossier Founder Emily Weiss admitted her missteps on hiring too aggressively, stepped down as CEO while on maternity leave and appointed Kyle Leahy as CEO. The Wing’s new CEO left after just five months, and it closed for good. Maria Raga stepped down as Depop’s CEO. Spanx promoted CFO Kim Jones to CEO. Sheryl Sandberg left Meta in a well choreographed exit after 14 years to focus on family and philanthropic work.
Women raised a record amount of new venture funds, micro and mega funds
We have seen more women branch out to build their own VC firms from the ground up and raise institutional capital in record times. It’s not an easy environment to kick off fundraising now, but many timed it well. Hopefully those will make some great ‘22 vintages! Katie Haun launched the biggest Web3 fund raised by a solo female VC with $1.5B for Haun Ventures. Forerunner Ventures led by Kirsten Green announced a new $1B fund to invest from inception to IPO. Imaginary Ventures, co-led by Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet, raises its third fund of $500M to invest in retail, and Web3. VC fund Variant, co-led by Li Jin, announced two new funds of $450M. Blossom Capital founded by high conviction investor Ophelia Brown closed a brand new $432M fund for Series A deals in Europe. Construct Capital led by Uber and NEA alums Dayna Grayson and Rachel Holt raised $300M Fund II to back industrial startups. Serena Williams raised $111M to invest in founders with diverse perspectives. Sarag Guo left Greylock after 9 years and launched Conviction, a $100M fund investing in “Software 3.0” companies. Voyager Ventures, founded by Sierra Peterson and Sarah Sclarsic, raised $100M for its inaugural decarbonisation fund. Operator Collective, led by Mallun Yen, announced $92M for its second fund. Kate Beardsley and Jessica Peltz-Zatulove launch $52M fund Hannah Grey. Brianne Kimmel raised $35M for Worklife Ventures II. Ex-Bain investor Magdalena Kala launched Double Down, $30M web3 consumer VC fund. Maron Bannon’s January Ventures closed $21M for fund II. Maya Bakhai, who previously worked with Kevin Durant’s 35 Ventures, launched Spice Capital’s $10M fund.
Gender representation on S&P 500 boards reaches new milestone
Boards are playing a big role in ensuring more diversity inside businesses, especially for leadership pipelines. Women held a record 32% of S&P 500 board seats in November 2022, as the largest US companies added a net five additional female directors. Companies have also stepped up adding younger board members, as well as directors from other historically underrepresented groups over the past decade. "Next-gen" directors, aged 50 and younger, account for 18% of new board members in 2022, up from 16% in 2021. The average number of female directors rose to 3.6 from 3.5, out of an average board size of 11.1.
Femstreet’s 10 most popular company building resources
Some argue that generalists are more likely to be successful in the future but being a generalist is harder than it sounds. The best generalists are actually mini experts in a bunch of areas. Maven HQ’s Wes Kao shares 11 disciplines to become a sharper operator.
It’s a marketing candidate’s market right now. The past year was the most competitive market for early-stage marketers. Emily Kramer and Kathleen Estreich share comprehensive salary and equity benchmarks and spreadsheets for Seed & Series A marketing roles.
Elizabeth Jin of Hustle Fund is a former founder who’s reviewed over 30,000 pitches as a GP and as a former Partner at 500 Startups. Elizabeth shares all her top resources, from designing your fundraising strategy and preparation, to meeting and closing with investors, helping you raise your Seed round.
On the hard reset
You have raised a lot of cash but are nowhere near PMF? Many startups very recently went from “working” to “not working.” Revenue growth went from fast and “hitting plan” to linear at best and shrinking at worst. Conviction’s Sarah Guo shares what you can do as a founder to not fall off the cliff.
On Seed stage board meetings
The wires have just come through on your seed raise and you are feeling elated after weeks or months of hard work. And you might already be plotting strategy and prep for your first board meeting. Mary Grove of Bread & Butter Ventures shares how to get the most out of your board meetings.
On customer discovery
1:1 customer interviews are extremely powerful. Katelyn Bourgoin did 300 customer discovery interviews and still managed to build the wrong product. She shares key mistakes people make when interviewing software buyers.
On navigating share repricings and down rounds
Understanding the nuances of equity is more important than ever. What is causing the bear market? How should companies and their employees prepare for potential share repricings and down rounds? Pulley’s Yin Wu compiled answers to the most common questions from recent conversations with over 100 startups on how to navigate the downturn.
From marketing campaigns to product announcements and beyond, launching things is hard work. They require planning, organization, and most importantly, highly collaborative working. Your launch day is a milestone, not a destination. Lune’s Alicia Carney shares her GTM launch template, which she built during her time at Deliveroo. Learn how to make product launches easy, effortless, and exciting. Never fail a product launch again!
On being a founder and a parent
Finding the balance of being a parent and doing your life’s work, without losing out on either, is no easy task. This leaves many feeling like being an entrepreneur, or a parent is a binary choice, or that they must resign themselves to being an average parent. Elicia McDonald of Airtree talked to founders about their experiences and the realities of managing a young family and growing a startup.
On profitable growth
It's no secret that investors—public or private—are no longer rewarding growth at all costs. In public markets, the index of unprofitable tech companies has fallen twice as much as Nasdaq. Now CAC, burn multiple and profitability are king. Gusto’s Head of Marketing, Jaleh Rezaei, explains that to grow efficiently, you have to shift to program-level CAC, invest in conversion, not just demand, launch new programs iteratively, and design an operating cadence.
Women to watch in 2023
Hilary Mason, Co-founder of Hidden Door (NYC), a game technology studio building the first narrative AI, a platform that transforms any work of fiction into an infinite social roleplaying experience. Cloudera acquired her last company Fast Forward Labs, she’s your go-to woman for all things Generative AI, data and cheeseburgers.
Hanna Asmussen, Co-founder & CEO of Localyze (Hamburg), an all-on-one software for employee relocation, backed by GC and Blossom. Hanna believes in a world without borders, speaks 6 languages and helps immigrants settle & work away from their home countries.
Monica Sarbu, Founder of Xata (Berlin), a serverless database for Jamstack and low-code applications, backed by Index and Redpoint. She’s no stranger in the open source world. Elastic acquired her last company Packetbeat in 2015, and she runs Tupu.io, a non-profit initiative offering free mentorship for unprivileged people in tech.
Maya Bakhai, Founder of Spice Capital (NYC) is backed by the likes of Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon and Alexis Ohanian, and has made 25 investments to date. Bakhai previously led investments at Kevin Durant's 35 Ventures.
Carmen Alfonso Rico, Co-founder of Cocoa VC (London), previously a partner at Blossom, Rico launched her own $17M fund, a VC designed to act more like an angel investor, at the start of 2022. Carmen’s energy and support for founders is unparalleled.
Natalia Murillo, Co-founder of Koop.xyz (NYC), a platform that is revolutionising networks by shifting how communities and capital work together. The 21-year-old is a big believer in membership-based communities and has big plans to make online collaboration more fun.
Molly White, Founder of Web3 is going just Great (Cambridge, MA), a 28 year old software engineer, informed and savvy crypto skeptic, who has been proven right more often than wrong this year. Her blog chronicles the many scams, hacks, hiccups, rug pulls, missteps and cringe of crypto and blockchain.
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See you all with a bang in the new year!