When Emily Melton, a partner at venture capital firm DFJ, signed onto the board of Redfin in 2007 as part of a $12 million investment round, she was elated to join a team she “fell in love with.” She was 29 and it was the first investment she oversaw.
But her spirits were dampened almost immediately when a Valleywag gossip columnist speculated that DFJ selected her to join a board of “back-benchers” because “Redfin isn’t a star of their portfolios.”
Here’s how Melton describes the experience in a new Medium post, tied to Redfin’s recent IPO.
“First, I was furious and then came the tears. I openly admit that at the time I did not have any successful investments to my name (I was 29 years old). Second, I could not shake the subtle sexism of the article. My male colleagues with less experience were making investments every day without criticism.”
In Melton’s post, titled “Redfin — A Story of Resilience,” she details the challenges that the Seattle tech-focused real estate brokerage faced over the past decade. Most notably, the company endured the 2008 housing crash and financial crisis that succeeded it.
“Each obstacle was viewed by the team as an opportunity and every challenge was something to overcome,” writes Melton. “It was a difficult year, but failure was not an option. I saw passion, resilience, and a competitive drive that proved Redfin wasn’t simply a technology product. Glenn was building a company for the long term.”
Earlier this month, Redfin launched a campaign to fight sexism in the technology industry. As part of the initiative, Redfin is asking investors to encourage startups in their portfolios to recruit an “independent, diverse board member” within two years of funding. Redfin CTO Bridget Frey and CEO Glenn Kelman are championing the initiative.
Melton says Kelman has become the standard by which she evaluates other CEOs who are seeking funding from DFJ.
“Every time I assess a new investment, I find myself doing the ‘Glenn assessment,’” she writes. “How will this particular founder deal with adversity? Is he/she driven by an internal passion? Do they have the courage and tenacity to relentlessly pursue their vision to create a better world?”
“In addition to transforming the real estate industry, Glenn, Bridget, and the rest of the talented Redfin team are also redefining how to build a successful company,” writes Melton. “I am so proud that their accomplishments will now be seen on a more public stage.”