Only 33 women lead Fortune 500 companies. The lack of female leadership extends to startups, too.
Just 27% of private “unicorn” firms worth at least $1 billion have a woman as a founder, according to financial data company Pitchbook. That’s up from only 11% of unicorns in 2018.
Anu Duggal, one of the partners of Female Founders Fund (F3), is hoping that this number will climb even higher. Duggal’s venture capital firm, as the name implies, invests in companies led by women.
Duggal will be talking about F3’s investments, the landscape for women in tech and the outlook for the sector in general with CNN International anchor Zain Asher on the “Markets Now” live show Wednesday at 12:45 pm ET.
One of the fund’s biggest investments, Rent the Runway, recently reached “unicorn” status, raising $125 million at a $1 billion valuation.
Other F3 portfolio companies have been scooped up by larger companies: Walmart (WMT) bought Plus-size fashion designer Eloquii for a reported $100 million in 2018. Sotheby’s (BID) acquired luxury furniture reseller Viyet, also in 2018. In-office beauty firm Manicube was scooped up by Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa in 2015.
Duggal said these deals have led many in Silicon Valley to take notice — and she’s hoping for more female-led companies to eventually go public or get bought by larger firms.
“Ultimately what’s going to drive change, both in terms of female founders and female VCs, is exits,” Duggal told Inc. in an interview in January. “When it becomes normal to have a female-founded company go public or to be acquired, I think that’s when there’ll be true parity. Right now we’re at the beginnings of that,” she added.
Duggal recently told Forbes that many venture capitalists fail to recognize the value of companies catering to women, and new mothers in particular. That needs to change.
“Capturing the mom at the point of starting a family is incredibly powerful,” Duggal said. “This is a massive market opportunity that has been overlooked by the venture capital community.”
F3 also has stakes in high-profile startups such as razor company Billie; party supplies e-commerce retailer Coterie; wedding planner Loverly and bridal registry Zola; Thrive Global, the productivity and well-being company founded by Arianna Huffington; and The Wonder, a kids’ playspace backed by former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.
Dan Ahrens, manager of the new AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (YOLO), will also be joining Asher on “Markets Now” to discuss the outlook for marijuana and CBD companies following the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada and several US states last fall as well as industrial hemp production nationwide.
This actively managed fund owns stakes in Canopy Growth (CGC), the cannabis firm backed by Corona owner Constellation Brands (STZ), as well as Canadian companies OrganiGram, Aphria (APHA), Aurora (ACB), Tilray (TLRY) and Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR), a US-based real estate firm that leases buildings to licensed growers of medical marijuana.
“Markets Now” streams live from the New York Stock Exchange every Wednesday at 12:45 pm ET. Hosted by CNN’s business correspondents, the 15-minute program features incisive commentary from experts.
You can watch “Markets Now” at CNN.com/MarketsNow from your desk or on your phone or tablet. If you can’t catch the show live, check out highlights online and through the Markets Now newsletter, delivered to your inbox every afternoon.