Silicon Valley ‘bro culture’ got you down? Try London

NYT published an excellent Opinion this week on the pervasiveness of bro culture in Silicon Valley tech. Colour us unsurprised.

Mr Lyon is quick (and correct) to point out how this culture fails investors. Women-led businesses making better returns on average, but get only 10% of available VC money. “Hold my beer,” you imagine a line of fratty founders saying, as they charge down a slip-n-slide made of angel money, running each venture into the mud with reckless glee.

But the problem persists:

“Bro CEO’s are better at raising money than making money. So why do venture capitalists keep investing in them? It may be because many of the venture capitalists investing in them are bros as well.”

It’s an incestuous cycle, where bros cash out and fund more bros. (Also because startups are rewarded for insane growth, rather than their ability to actually turn a profit. It’s the Wild West Coast, baby.)

You don’t have to spend much time in tech to realise how connections matter. Your buddies become your cofounders, your mentors become your investors. So no one should be shocked that Silicon Valley inbreeding produced an environment where sexist & racist microagressions flourish like bedbugs in a Motel 6 mattress. What do you get when you get when you cross middle class white dudes with the term “bootstrapping“?

All this to say: I’m glad I went overseas before my break into tech.

Bro culture around the world

It’s not that the U.K. is all roses. The self-employment gender gap here is nearly double the U.S. But when it comes to handing the keys over to an entitled prick, raised on rape culture & drunk on power, you have to admit: the U.S. has the category on lock.

Donald Trump & Peter Thiel share a creepy secret handshake
donald trump exchanging secret handshake with Silicon Valley titan Peter Thiel: ‘Bros before hos, and also before poor people ahaha’

London’s a financial capital, so FinTech is wildly popular among the startup set. And as a hub for EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) you’re well positioned for geographical expansion, including emerging markets. This means loads of social enterprise opportunities, too.

AllBright launched in London in late 2016 to provide a platform for investing in women founders. A trip to Tel Aviv introduced me to iAngels, a team of 12 women and 4 men with a portfolio of Israeli tech startups–another major startup ecosystem just a 4.5 hour flight & two time zones away.

London: not even that cloudy this time of year

No doubt sexism exists on the Isles, and stats for female founders and VC’s are no less dismal. But I have hope: this is the land that idolises Margaret Thatcher, after all; the kingdom of J.K. Rowling and Amal Clooney and Queen Elizabeth II herself. Since arriving I’ve heard talks by feminist MP Harriet Harman and “Mrs. Brexit” Helena Morrissey. A vocal contingent of feminists refuses to shut up or get shut down.

sunny day on the Thames
London on the Thames: where sometimes, it’s even sunny

So women of tech: if you’re tired of the bro culture, fancy a hop across the Pond? The pound is cheap, the weather is turning, and there’s opportunity for us to make waves.

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