Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of opinion pieces in which GeekWire invites members of the tech community to critique our coverage.
The Seattle landscape has changed dramatically, as evidenced by the growing number of cranes that puncture our skyline and the amount of businesses that launch each year. With the passing of Seattle luminary Paul Allen last week, it’s clear the indelible legacy left by his fingerprints on global companies and causes can change our region with investment in innovation, diversity, and science.
Given GeekWire’s coverage the past week, the spotlight that shines on Seattle’s tech scene brightly lights up the bigger players: Amazon, Microsoft, Tableau, and more. The sheer number of stories on these global leaders show how we focus on (maybe even prioritize) the innovation and impact of these companies in the Pacific Northwest tech scene.
But they’re not the only ones that are contributing to our communities, and we should increasingly share diverse stories of how companies are disrupting the status quo by persevering in our intense startup culture. Specifically, we can all benefit from more stories of how female founders are connecting startup communities with resources and relationships that would otherwise not exist.
When only 2.2 percent of venture capital funding went to female-led startups last year, we should see more stories of female founders who are seeing success and raising money — especially leaders with Seattle ties but also those located across the country, focusing on investment, from angel investment rounds to exits are important for the larger tech community to see and applaud.
Coverage of Armoire’s recent $3 million raise and venture capital profiles, like the one of Heather Redman of Flying Fish Partners, are stories that can push the tech scene forward. Additionally, keeping a collaborative list of female venture capital funders investing in startups in Seattle and Portland helps bring a spotlight to much-needed investments and moves us collectively another step toward equity.
There are female founders in the Pacific Northwest who are breaking barriers in big and small ways, from founders of medium-sized businesses including Sandi Lin of SkillJar and Kieran Snyder of Textio to growing startups, including HeyThrivy founders Dianna Winegarden and Danna Redmond.
Both GeekWire and our collective community need to share in-depth profiles of success and lessons learned. Our community needs to know both the bootstrapped startups whose founders have the potential to shake up their industries. We need to hear more voices of people of color who represent, serve, and celebrate diversity, both in tech products and in the teams that built them.
But we also need something more: We need to question stories where we see only men and ask how we can be inclusive of women.
The men who lead so many of Seattle’s largest companies and most esteemed venture capital firms must stand in the gap (you name it — gender pay gap, advancement gap) and advocate for female leadership to make their business ideas a reality, both in terms of increased financial investments.
For example, GeekWire this week covered the exciting fundraise announcement from Gradient. The piece noted that Gradient is a “spin-out of Seattle startup studio Pioneer Square Labs (PSL).” We all know that PSL is doing amazing things for the tech ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest — and it is important to note that each of the nine companies spun out of PSL is helmed by a male CEO.
I am always thinking about where and how women are represented in startups — and perhaps that derives from the fact that I’m too often the only woman at CEO gatherings — and I think it’s important to acknowledge this as an issue.
I had the same thought when GeekWire’s recent piece on how Convoy’s $185 million investment “stacked up” against other top rounds for Seattle startups. GeekWire compared Convoy to eleven other start-ups and not a single one had a female founder. Again, this is worth noting in the coverage and I would urge GeekWire to do so.
It’s an honor to be a part of the Seattle startup scene with an opportunity to level the playing field and redefine the future of work, built by women and inclusive of all. We need to see more stories that show the array of opportunities in the Pacific Northwest tech scene so that we can support a variety of new companies who can leave a legacy all their own.