Sequoia Capital hires first female investing partner in U.S.

Chalk it up as a win for the “nasty women.”

The morning after social media exploded with feminist rallying cries around Donald Trump’s “nasty woman” comment from Wednesday’s debate, one of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious venture capital firms made history by hiring its first female investing partner in the U.S.

Sequoia Capital, a 44-year-old Sand Hill Road firm with a storied history that includes early investments in Google and Apple, is bringing entrepreneur Jess Lee into its ranks, which — like many VC firms — include a predominance of white men.

Bloomberg reported the hire Thursday morning, and Lee confirmed the news on her Twitter account.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Jess to Sequoia,” partner Roelof Botha wrote in a statement emailed to SiliconBeat. “Her rare blend of product and design sensibility, leadership and grit will make her a tremendous asset to Sequoia founders and our team.”

Lee starts next month.

She previously spent eight years at Mountain View-based fashion and home decor startup Polyvore, where she served as co-founder and CEO. The company was acquired by Yahoo last year. Lee was a product manager at Google before that, according to her LinkedIn page.

The move is a big step in a VC industry plagued by a wide gender gap, which has come under fire lately as advocates pressure firms to make their practices more inclusive. Another prestigious Sand Hill Road VC firm — Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers — fended off allegations of gender discrimination last year in a high-profile San Francisco trial.

Groups like Project Include, co-founded by Kleiner Perkins accuser Ellen Pao, are working to bring more women into tech and VC, but so far progress has been slow. Just 7 percent of partners at the top 100 VC firms are women, according to a recent study by CrunchBase.

Sequoia has five female investing partners in India and China, according to Bloomberg.

Photo: Screen shot of Jess Lee’s LinkedIn page. 


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