THE INC. LIFE

The Testosterone-Fueled Stupidity of Silicon Valley

Female-led startups earn 63% more than male-led startups. So why do VCs only throw women the crumbs?

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BY Geoffrey James - 05 Dec 2017

The Testosterone-Fueled Stupidity of Silicon Valley

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

In previous columns, I've pointed out that the average businesswoman is smarter than the average businessman, this for two general reasons:

First, as more than evidenced by the #METOO movement, women run a constant gauntlet of sexual harassment, innuendo, and dismissive behavior, such as being constantly interrupted. This forces women (as the saying goes) to be twice as good to get half as far.

Second, there is scientific evidence and financial data proving that women perform better. Here's a smattering:

What I hadn't fully thought out, though, was the financial loss that must be occurring because men weren't listening to women and actively keeping women from positions of power. It turns out that all that testosterone is costing investors big bucks.

Especially in high tech.

Entrepreneurs are accustomed to thinking of "Silicon Valley" as an meritocratic incubator of money-making ideas. As such, the fact that women only got $1.5 billion of the $60 billion in venture capital disbursed last year must be the result of something lacking in women.

After all, venture capitalists (most of whom are male) wouldn't pass up on an opportunity to make money just because the idea came from a women, right? The bias towards investing in companies run by men must be "the invisible hand" of a free market, right?

Wrong. As Sallie Krawcheckdec, CEO of the digital investment and planning platform Ellevest pointed out in a recent must-read New York Times op-ed:

"One might argue that start-ups run by men just happen to deliver the highest possible returns. The mythology around the industry bolsters this, with venture capitalists boasting of investing in Facebook practically out of the dorm room. But that argument doesn't hold up. Investors in venture capital funds would have been as well off simply investing in the stock market over the past five to 15 years. That's what I see in reviewing the data from the research firm Cambridge Associates: Investors in the high-risk, high-reward world of start-ups essentially did no better than they could have opening an account at their neighborhood brokerage. What might help those venture capitalists? First Round Capital reports that its investments in companies with a female founder have posted 63 percent better returns than men-only firms."

In other words, our confidence in male-dominated world of Silicon Valley and Venture Capital is absurdly misplaced. Testosterone solidarity creates mediocrity, not excellence, and in effect has simply been flushing profit down the toilet.

In addition, the mere fact that sexual harassment runs rampant in business provides ample evidence of widespread male stupidity. Consider: what possible financial benefit does such behavior possess? Answer: none. Quite the contrary. Such behavior is a bigly risk.

Here's the proverbial bottom line: by excluding, dismissing and harassing women, men (as a group) have proven that they're incapable and foolish. Unless and until these idiotic male behaviors change, maybe men should step aside and let the women run the show.