Today, we’re breaking some rules. And some of the baddest women in business (and beyond) are doing the breaking. Venus Williams — yes, that Venus Williams — as well as business bigwig Mellody Hobson, venture capitalists Theresia Gouw and Sonja Perkins, and a squad of other glass-ceiling-busting, bossed-up women, plus a few #HeForShes, are part of Ellevest’s latest round of funding.
What are the “rules” we’re breaking around women and investing?
First, we women don’t invest as much as men do, and it can cost us…a lot. And I’m not just talking about money (to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more, over the course of our lives). It can cost us telling our boss to take this job and shove it, it can cost us a sense of freedom — it can cost us achieving real equality with men.
While some might tell us that we women are somehow constitutionally ill-suited for investing (can somebody please pass me the smelling salts?), let’s face it: the message we receive from society is that investing is a man’s game. Need convincing? Last week, I ran across this ad for a Barron’s investing panel. Notice anything missing? Feels more 1956 than 2016, doesn’t it? There’s a clear message that we women are not invited to the party.
And if it’s not a panel of “more mature” white guys, it’s the messages the industry sends about playing stocks for sport, or all the war analogies it employs, or the giant, anatomically correct bull occupying Wall Street. Does any of this even bother speaking to women? To quote my girl Gloria Steinem, “We’ll never solve the feminization of power until we solve the masculinity of wealth.” (I know, deep right? It took me a minute to get it, too.)
At Ellevest, we’re aiming to change that with a digital investing service that is (finally, finally) geared to women. And not in the Victorian-era “maths are for men” way, but in the smart-tech-enabled-and-still-gorgeous way.
The second thing we “know” about investing: in startups, it’s a bro-nopoly, especially so in “fintech” startups. Quick: what was the last woman-led startup in this space to get funding? I can’t think of one either. It’s well past time for that to change, too.
Today, we’re announcing our second round of funding for Ellevest with a group of A-list female funders.
Who are they? Venus Williams, who in addition to being one of the world’s greatest athletes, also led the fight to close the gender pay gap in tennis; Mellody Hobson, President of Chicago-based Ariel Investments and one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2015; venture capitalists Theresia Gouw & Jennifer Fonstad, co-founders and Managing Partners of Aspect Ventures; and Miriam Rivera, former Deputy General Counsel at Google who currently runs IT investment fund Ulu Ventures. The list of powerful women doesn’t stop there — from Broadway Angels, we have Sonja Perkins, founder of Broadway Angels and youngest-ever General Partner at Menlo Ventures and Karen Boezi, co-founder and former partner at venture capital firm Thomas, McNerney & Partners.
Nope, still not done. Other funders include Nellie and Max Levchin, angel investors and partners at HVF Investments; international women-run angel network Astia Angels, led by Sharon Vosmek; and prominent West Coast VC firm Khosla Ventures, whose partners we’re thrilled to count as part of Ellevest’s #HeForShe squad. And they’re in good company — joining an already strong line-up of Ellevest Series A investors including Karen Finerman, CEO of Metropolitan Capital Advisors; and Andrea Jung, President and CEO of Grameen America.
I can tell you nothing like this has ever happened.
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And I’ve been in the financial industry for nearly three decades. A group of women this powerful (and a few woke men) are putting their money behind a company that’s redefining the most male-dominated industry in the U.S.
What do they all have in common? They’ve each been enormously successful in their own fields, and they’re investing their money — paying it forward — to help women close their gender investing gaps.
They know money is power. And we all know that, until we women are financially equal with men, we’re not equal with men. It’s that simple. It’s not that we don’t have money…we do. We just need it to work harder for us. That’s why I’ve built Ellevest: an investment advisor for women, led by women, built by women — and now backed by women. And voice by voice, our not-so-quiet squad is growing.