Venture-capital firms with women partners aren't more likely to fund women's projects, study finds

The analysts observed 17 of the leading VC firms and compared their rates of funding women-owned companies.
By Ian Marsh | Jun 05, 2017
Venture-capital (VC) investors are overwhelmingly male, according to industry surveys, and women-owned startups seeking capital may think that they will have better chances if they seek out the few VC investment firms that have women partners. They actually will not, according to a new Bloomberg analysis that finds that VC firms with women partners fund women-owned startups at roughly the same rate as all-male VC firms do.

The analysts observed 17 of the leading VC firms and compared their rates of funding women-owned companies. The analysis found no significant difference in the funding rate between VC firms that had women senior partners and those that did not. Felicis, an all-male firm, supported more women-owned ventures than Spark, Benchmark, or Venrock, all of whom had women VC partners. Moreover, Felicis and two other all-male firmsLowercase and Indexhad the three highest rates of supporting women's ventures when the analysts adjusted for firm size.

NEA, a VC firm that has women partners, supported the largest number of women-owned ventures total. But the analysts attributed this to NEA being a larger firm than the others and supporting more projects of all kinds in general.

The findings correlate with another Bloomberg analysis of the top 10 private companies founded or cofounded by women. Not one of them had raised funds from a woman venture-capitalist in its first few formative years.

Some women VC capitalists told Bloomberg that women in their field might feel pressure to not favor women's projects so that they do not appear biased or be labeled by their gender.

"It could be possible that women ask more questions, because we're super paranoid we have to do a good job," said Cheryl Cheng, a senior partner at Blue Run Ventures.


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