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It could be just another monthly partner meeting at just another “Fill in the Blank” Capital, typical Silicon Valley–based venture firm. The fund’s top players sit around a white conference table, armed with Apple laptops and pastel-colored cans of La Croix. A couple of startup entrepreneurs stop by to present to the partners, enthusing over upward-trending charts and touting the merits of recent hires. Outside the expansive windows lies the not-quite-bustling heart of downtown Palo Alto-a town that, along with nearby Menlo Park and the city of San Francisco, is a mecca for Arc’teryx vest–wearing VCs.

這場月度合伙人會議跟以往沒什么區別,很可能又是典型硅谷風投公司在“填補空白”資本。基金高層坐在白色會議室桌前,每人面前擺著蘋果電腦和彩色灌裝樂活氣泡水。幾位創業公司的企業家向合伙人們介紹,一邊展示滿是向上箭頭的圖表,一邊吹噓最近招到什么大牛。開闊的窗戶外,是帕洛阿爾托鬧市中心,但不太喧鬧。帕洛阿爾托跟附近的門洛帕克和舊金山市都是那幫喜歡穿始祖鳥戶外裝的風投大佬云集之地。

But anyone who knows this hub of venture capital would immediately spot something unusual about this particular gathering: Four of the eight investors seated around the table are female. And one of the two presenting portfolio company heads is also a woman. In Silicon Valley, where unicorns are a dime a dozen, this kind of gender ratio is the real rare and magical discovery.

但如果對風投資本中心帕洛阿爾托有所了解,就會立刻發現這場會議有點異樣:桌前八位投資人里有四位都是女性。兩家作介紹的被投公司負責人里,有一位也是女性。硅谷的獨角獸遍地,但一次會上女性占比如此之高真是罕見,堪稱神奇。

“If you have more diversity you have better financial performance,” says Theresia Gouw, one-half of the founding team of Aspect Ventures, the norm-breaking VC firm at hand (the other founder is Jennifer Fonstad). “Our company is nearly 50/50 in an industry in which just 7% of investors are female. And our portfolio is a reflection of our pipeline.”

“公司多元化程度越高,業績就越好,”新派風投公司Aspect Ventures創始二人組之一特蕾西亞.格武表示(另一位創始人是珍妮佛.馮斯塔)。“行業里女性從業者只占7%,在我們公司接近50%。從投資對象也能體現出公司理念。”

Gouw and Fonstad, both longtime VCs who worked at firms like Accel and DFJ, didn’t set out to create a “female-focused” fund when they launched Aspect in 2014. But they believed that diversity, both internally and throughout their portfolio companies, would lead to better outcomes-and they had the right Rolodex to test out their thesis. “We have different networks than the traditional firms on Sand Hill Road,” says Fonstad, referring to the nearby street where the bulk of the most established VCs are headquartered.

格武和馮斯塔都長期從事風投行業,之前在Accel和德豐杰等公司工作。2014年創立Aspect時,她們并沒打算成立“女性主義”風投基金。但二人都認為不管是內部還是投資對象公司里,多元化都可以提升業績,而她們的關系網也很適合測試多元化理論。“跟硅谷沙丘路上傳統公司相比,我們的關系網不太一樣,”馮斯塔表示,沙丘路是公司附近一條聚集了多家著名風投總部的路。

The results: Over the course of their careers, Gouw and Fonstad’s investments have resulted in a collective seven public offerings, 26 acquisitions, and more than 500 financing rounds in follow-on capital. Aspect, which is now announcing a second, larger fund with some big-name limited partners (more on that later), began with $150 million in financing and has already made 29 Series A investments. One of its portfolio companies, security startup ForeScout, went public last fall at a valuation of about $800 million. Other standout investments under Aspect’s first fund include Cato Networksand Exabeam, both promising cybersecurity startups; health-tech player Vida Health; and online career source The Muse.

結果是,格武與馮斯塔合作投資的公司里,已經有七家成功上市,并購26起,還有500多起跟投交易。Aspect現在宣布新成立一只更大規模的基金,有不少著名有限合伙人加入(詳見后文),初始融資規模1.5億美元,已有29起A輪投資。證券創業公司ForeScout是被投公司之一,去年秋天成功上市,估值約8億美元。Aspect第一輪投出的出色案例還包括Cato Networks和Exabeam,兩家都是很有前景的網絡安全領域創業公司;還有醫療領域的Vida Health;提供在線求職資源的 The Muse。

Overall, women founders receive less than 3% of total VC dollars (women of color, meanwhile, get a meager 0.2%), but Aspect’s portfolio looks strikingly different from the norm: About 40% of the firm’s companies were founded by women, and 30% were started by minorities. Once, those numbers might have been a mere curiosity-today they are becoming a competitive advantage. While investing for diversity is something certain industry players have been pushing for a long time, the message is finally beginning to be received by the deep-pocketed individuals and institutions that fund the Silicon Valley ecosystem. Why? Ignoring it can be expensive.

總體來說,女性創始人獲得的風投資金不到總投資額3%(其中有色人種女性僅能獲得0.2%),但Aspect的投資案例完全不一樣:約40%被投公司創始人為女性,30%創始人為少數人種女性。以前這些數字還只能引起人們好奇,如今卻成了競爭優勢。雖然業內不少人一直在推動投資多元化,但現在硅谷風投背后的富裕個人和機構終于開始接受了。為什么?因為不接受可能代價很大。

Last summer, after six female founders accused venture capitalist Justin Caldbeck of making unwanted sexual advances, his firm, Binary Capital, spiraled downward fast. Caldbeck quickly resigned from the all-male firm. A new fund, then in the process of being raised by Binary, was abruptly halted.

去年夏天,六位女性創始人指控風投資本家賈斯汀.卡德貝克實施性騷擾,他的公司Binary Capital也急轉直下。卡德貝克迅速從這家全為男性的公司辭職。Binary正在融資過程中的新基金也只得叫停。

In Silicon Valley, where unicorns are everywhere, gender balance is the real rare and magical entity.

硅谷的獨角獸遍地都是,但實現性別平衡的公司非常罕見而且神奇。

It’s not just venture capital firms that can be impacted. Perhaps the most high-profile example of how such misconduct can destroy value is Uber, the ride-sharing company rocked by allegations of harassment and sexism early last year. A number of other embarrassing debacles followed-including reports that Uber had used a software tool to try to deceive authorities by “hiding” rides-and ultimately resulted in a more than 20% decrease to the once high-flying company’s valuation, from around $70 billion to an estimated $54 billion.”

受到影響的不只是風投公司。也許最能體現性別歧視可能摧毀價值的例子就是Uber了,去年初共享車輛平臺Uber因被指存在性騷擾和性別歧視而大受打擊。之后又出現幾起丑聞,包括Uber曾使用軟件工具“隱瞞”某些派單從而規避監管,最終導致估值縮水超過20%,從之前高達700億美元降至估計540億美元。

There’s no foolproof method to guarantee that a VC shop or startup will be immune to these kinds of problems, but betting on diverse leaders can give investors some peace of mind. Numerous studies have suggested that gender-balanced teams drive better business results-and, perhaps unsurprisingly, research shows that male-dominated organizations have higher levels of sexual harassment than those with more equitable gender dynamics.

要避免風投公司或創業公司出現此類問題,并沒有一勞永逸的辦法,但如果強調多元化領袖,投資者可能會放心一些。很多研究表明,性別平衡的團隊業績會更好,而且更讓人吃驚的是,研究顯示男性主導的公司比起性別分別均衡的公司更容易出現性騷擾。

None of this is lost on anyone who has a stake in Silicon Valley’s success, let alone the limited partners who fund the entire ecosystem, a.k.a. the investors in the investors.

想跟著硅谷一同發展的人們顯然注意到這點,出資維持整個生態的有限合伙人們只會更加關注,他們是投資人背后的投資人。

“In many ways, the venture and startup ecosystem is still a boys’ club-one that all too often excludes, disadvantages, and mistreats talented women who want to contribute to it,” says Melinda Gates, cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and an investor. “The data tells us that’s harmful to society and bad for business.”

“從很多方面來看,風投圈和創業圈都還是男性主導,想投身行業的優秀女性經常遭排擠、歧視甚至受欺負,”梅琳達.蓋茨表示。她擔任比爾及梅琳達蓋茨基金會聯合主席,也是一位投資人。“數據顯示現狀于社會無益,也會影響業務。”

Gates is one of a handful of limited partners who have put a collective $181 million into Aspect’s just-announced fund, the firm’s second. Another LP is Cisco Systems , the Bay Area–based networking giant, whose financing arm invests directly in startups and in other funds. “This fiscal year was the first time that we have specifically put diversity into our investment] planning,” says Janey Hoe, a vice president with Cisco Investments. “Just like I have a plan for security and collaboration and data center, we have now put forward a plan for investing in] diversity.”

Aspect新募集的基金,也是第二只基金獲得1.81億美元融資,蓋茨是其中之一。另一家有限合伙人是思科系統,總部位于灣區的網絡巨頭,其融資部門向創業公司和其他基金直接投資。“本財年我們做(投資)計劃時第一次專門考慮多元化,”思科投資公司副總裁詹妮.霍表示。“我們會為安全、合作和數據中心投資制定專門計劃,與之類似,現在也有針對(投資)多元化的計劃。”

While there have long been small players in the venture capital community who defied the stats and were able to attract some LP money, they tended to be relegated to the fringes of the industry, with less access to sizable funds and the buzziest companies. Now, as Silicon Valley is finally coming to terms with the fact that bad behavior can do more than cause a temporary headache, concerned LPs are taking notice. That opens the door for funds like Aspect, which have made diversity part of their investment strategy from the get-go. The question now: Is this newish breed of VCs truly in a position to challenge the established firms that have long ruled Sand Hill Road? Or is this trend just another one of tech’s passing fads?

雖然風投圈里一直有小公司挑戰現狀吸引到有限合伙人的資金,但以往多是從事行業邊緣投資,沒什么機會接觸大基金和風頭正勁的公司。現在硅谷終于意識到,行為不端導致的麻煩可能不只是暫時困擾,所以有限合伙人也關注起來。Aspect之類基金也就有了機會,畢竟其一開始就將多元化納入投資策略。現在問題是:新生的風投基金有沒有機會挑戰長期主導沙丘路的老牌前輩們?這股多元化的風潮會不會只是科技行業刮過的一陣風?

Even with the brawn of Gates and Cisco behind it, Aspect’s $181 million fund isn’t all that menacing to the status quo when compared with the Valley’s biggest names, many of whom raise single funds worth more than $1 billion. But if the powers behind the money start to reprioritize, we could see the balance begin to tip in the underdog’s direction. If there’s one thing VCs know all too well, it’s that little guys sometimes put the big guys out of business.

雖然背后有蓋茨和思科支持,Aspect這只1.81億美元的基金看來還是無法撼動硅谷老牌風投,很多公司一只基金就能融資超過10億美元。但如果資本背后的勢力開始調整,小基金還是有一些逆襲機會。其實風投見慣了這種事,即名不見經傳的小公司顛覆大公司。

Until recently, LPs have largely stayed in the background, invisible to most who operate day to day in the tech world. But despite their often secretive nature, these wealthy individuals, offices of private family funds, or institutions hold immense power. And venture capitalists say they are starting to ask questions.

此前有限合伙人通常在幕后,科技行業從業者很少得見其人。雖然有限合伙人表現得比較神秘,但這些富裕個人、家族私人基金或機構勢力強大。風投資本家表示,現在有限合伙人開始提出問題。

“They likely believe claims of sexual harassment] are material information,” says Mike Maples Jr., cofounder of Floodgate, a Palo Alto–based VC firm with an investing team that’s 40% female. “In today’s world, if partners engage in unacceptable behavior the entire firm can blow up.”

“他們可能認為(關于性騷擾的指控)很重要,”帕洛阿爾托風投公司Floodgate聯合創始人麥克.梅普斯二世表示,Floodgate的投資團隊里40%是女性。“當前情況下,如果合伙人行為不端,整個團隊都可能遭殃。”

Limited partners have done significant back-channel reference checking for years. But according to insiders, not only are LPs doing even more intensive vetting these days, but also the people they are talking to are now much more likely to feel a responsibility to out bad behavior. “Now there is more of a culture of people thinking, ‘Hey, you should talk about these things even if they are rumors,’?” says Floodgate’s other cofounder, Ann Miura-Ko.

多年來,有限合伙人做了不少重要的背景渠道調查。內部人士透露,現在有限合伙人不僅調查更深入,接觸到的人士也都發現有必要清除不良行為。“越來越多人開始想,‘嘿,哪怕只是謠言,也得認真對待,’” Floodgate聯合創始人安.三浦-高(Ann Miura-Ko)表示。

“This year and in 2017 it has definitely been a lot more top of mind for LPs],” says Lan Xuezhao, the founding partner at Basis Set Ventures, a new, artificial intelligence–focused VC firm. The former Dropbox executive raised $140 million for her first fund and says that while bigger funds have a clear advantage when it comes to leading the largest deals, her dual focus-A.I. and diversity-gives her a leg up.

“今年和2017年,這對(有限合伙人)都是頭等大事,”一家新成立專注投資人工智能的風投Basis Set Ventures創始合伙人蘭雪棹(音)表示。她曾擔任Dropbox高管,第一只基金融到1.4億美元,她表示雖然更大規模的基金做起大型交易來具有優勢,但現在的基金也很方便兩個主要投資領域--人工智能和多元化。

Even some of those larger funds appear to be feeling the pressure to diversify. Benchmark added its first-ever female partner last May, while Sequoia Capital hired its first female investing partner in the U.S. in fall of 2016. The moves brought the VC heavyweights to 17% and 11% women investors, respectively.

有些大基金看起來也有多元化的壓力。去年5月Benchmark公司終于有第一位女性合伙人,2016年秋,紅杉資本聘請了第一位女性投資合伙人。此后兩家公司里女性合伙人比例分別增加到17%和11%。

NEA, one of the largest firms with $20 billion in assets under management, has yet to hire or promote a female general partner, though it does have six female investing partners on staff. But Dayna Grayson, one of those investing partners, says her firm does have some advantages-besides just sheer dollars-over smaller players.

恩頤投資是規模最大的之一,管理資金達200億美元,到現在也沒聘請或提升女性普通合伙人,不過團隊里有六位女性投資合伙人。六人之一戴娜.格雷森表示,公司比起小基金還是有優勢,而且不只是金錢方面。

“When you get to a certain scale you can have an HR body, a chief legal officer, policies and training, and a number of other levers to ensure that everybody is informed” on what is and is not acceptable in the workplace, says Grayson. So while a firm like NEA may not have a woman at the table when the big decisions are being made, there is an argument that it can afford the infrastructure needed to stem bad behavior, both at its portfolio companies and within its own ranks.

“公司發展到一定規模就會有人力部門,首席法律代表,政策和培訓負責人,還有其他確保每人都能明確知道”公司里哪些事可以做,哪些不可接受,格雷森表示。所以恩頤之類大公司里,女性可能無法參與重要決策,但也有人認為這樣的公司更有能力阻止不良行為,不管是被投公司里還是風投內部。

Kate Barrett, NEA’s marketing partner, adds that comparing the gender ratios of large firms like hers with smaller players can be misleading: It’s one thing for a four-person firm to be 50% female, but quite another for a 36-person operation like NEA.

恩頤投資市場合伙人凱特.巴瑞特補充說,單純比較大基金和小基金里的性別比例可能存在誤導:小公司一共四個人,有兩名女性比例就達到50%,而恩頤投資一共有36人,算起比例來要吃虧一些。

NEA maintains that questions about diversity have not impacted its fundraising. But that may well change. The firm closed its latest fund, a massive $3.3 billion, last May, just as the Valley’s harassment scandals were starting to mount-but before they gained real attention from the bulk of the tech world. “We hear from our LPs more regularly] during fundraising times,” says Barrett.

恩頤投資認為多元化問題并未影響融資。但有可能出現變化。恩頤投資去年5月完成最新一只基金融資,規模33億美元,當時硅谷有關性騷擾的丑聞正在發酵,但科技業還沒人關注到恩頤。“融資期間我們跟有限合伙人接觸(更頻繁),”巴瑞特表示。

Last September, about 200 representatives from some of the largest family funds in the country gathered at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. The group comprised, as portfolio manager Kristen Koh Goldstein put it, the kind of people who are “wealthy enough they don’t need to be in a listicle.” But while the attendees might opt to keep their fortunes out of the press, they are putting those funds to work; everyone at the gathering was a limited partner, tasked with allocating large amounts of private, family-owned capital into various investments, including many of Silicon Valley’s venture capital firms.

去年9月,美國規模最大的一些家族基金約200位代表在舊金山里茲卡爾頓開會。用投資經理克里斯汀.戈德斯坦的話說,這群人都是“極有錢而且不需要上什么榜單的人”。雖然與會者可能不希望財富見諸報端,但私下里還在積極運作。出席者每個人都是有限合伙人,將大筆家族私人資金拆成小規模投資,投資對象就包括硅谷的風投公司。

Goldstein, who comanages the investments of her family office, AthenaPartners, had been asked by the gathering’s organizers to put together content on a topic of increasing concern to the LPs in attendance: the mounting discrimination and harassment problems in the tech world. “They realized this was an issue, but they didn’t know the extent of it or what you could do about it as a limited partner,” says Goldstein.

戈德斯坦參與管理家族投資公司AthenaPartners的業務,會議主辦方讓她負責探討在場有限合伙人越發關心的話題:科技業日漸嚴重的歧視和性騷擾問題。“他們意識到這是個問題,但不知道實際上有多嚴重,也不知道身為有限合伙人能做什么,”戈德斯坦表示。

The Bay Area–based investor brought in founder Niniane Wang, who sold her startup last year and is now an engineering leader at Pokémon Go creator Niantic. Earlier in 2017 she was among the women who publicly accused Caldbeck, the former partner at Binary Capital, of sexual harassment.

灣區投資人找來創始人王沂,去年她賣掉創業公司,如今在出品精靈寶可夢Go的任天堂擔任工程主管。2017年初,她曾參與公開指責Binary Capital前合伙人卡德貝克性騷擾。

“I gave them the LPs] some actionable advice, like, don’t sign a nondisclosure agreement as part of your investment, and ask questions about how they treat diversity or whether or not they have a female partner,” says Wang.

“我(向有限合伙人)提過一些可行建議,例如投資時不要簽署保密協定,問(風投)如何看待多元化以及有沒有女性合伙人等等,”王沂表示。

According to Goldstein, Wang received a standing ovation, and both women were mobbed with questions and comments from the audience. The session was the highest rated at the event, and the organization has already asked Goldstein to come up with similar programming for future summits.

戈德斯坦表示,王沂講完后,觀眾起立鼓掌,觀眾向二人拋出很多問題和評論。這場論壇在會議里評價最高,組織者已經請戈德斯坦為以后的峰會策劃類似環節。

“There is an enormous risk here that some of these families weren’t even aware of,” says Goldstein. “Our goal was to reach these wealthy people, who sometimes have no idea they are funding misogynists, and give them practical things they can do to protect themselves.”

“現在風險很大,但很多家族基金甚至一無所知,”戈德斯坦表示。“我們的目標是告訴這些富人,他們可能無意中會投資厭惡女性的人,也讓他們知道如何切實保護自己的利益。”

Following the event, Goldstein has fielded several calls from high-profile family offices, asking for her take on whether there might be a misconduct or other risk with some of their potential investments; she calls these “what’s the real deal here” calls.

會議結束后,戈德斯坦收到好幾通家族基金的電話,咨詢某些潛在投資對象是否可能有行為不端等風險。她稱之為“打聽投資對象老底”的電話。

Some LPs-ones who obviously haven’t signed NDAs with the venture capital firms they’ve funded-aren’t just using back channels to ask questions. Instead they are throwing off their usual role as silent partner and for the first time taking their concerns public.

有些有限合伙人明顯沒有跟風投公司簽署保密協定,所以今后不僅會勇敢提出問題。他們還打算不再當風投背后沉默的合作方,第一次公開表達自己的擔心。

Last summer, amidst the wave of harassment scandals, 500 Startups cofounder Dave McClure was accused of sexual misconduct. The eccentric general partner of the incubator and venture capital firm apologized and resigned from his role. In response to the revelations, some of his most high-profile LPs, including Mitch Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein, publicly expressed their outrage at his behavior-and the larger tech community’s role in enabling it.

去年夏天性騷擾丑聞甚囂塵上之時,500家創業公司聯合創始人大衛.麥克魯爾被指性騷擾。這位古怪的孵化器和風投公司合伙人表示道歉并辭去職務。作為回應,他背后知名有限合伙人--包括米奇.卡普爾和弗利達.卡普爾.克萊因都公開表示譴責其行為,也譴責了整個科技行業。

“This is a culture that has been allowed to fester and to rot by enablers who refused to intervene when they witnessed inexcusable behavior or went to great lengths to avoid seeing it,” they said in a statement.

“如果背后的人看到不可接受的行為拒絕介入,甚至竭力避免去看,就會演變為潰爛和腐壞的文化,”他們在一份聲明中稱。

Many limited partners have signed NDAs and will probably continue to do so. And many more won’t speak out even if given the opportunity. But as awareness and concern reaches critical mass, it’s likely that a growing number of LPs will make their voices heard-if not with words, then with dollars. Down the road, that could have tangible impact on venture capital firms that are not evolving to meet current demands.

很多有限合伙人簽署了保密協定,以后可能還會繼續簽。還有很多人即便有機會也選擇沉默。但對此類事件的關注和擔心逐漸聚集,越來越多的有限合伙人可能出面發聲,即便不聲討也會用錢投票。如果風投公司不與時俱進滿足外界需求,可能也會受到影響。

“I want to back the people best positioned to successfully invest in tomorrow’s groundbreaking ideas,” says Melinda Gates. “And they’re not always the people who successfully invested in yesterday’s.”

“我希望幫助關注未來突破性創意的人們做投資,”梅琳達.蓋茨表示。“將來成功的投資人跟過去的投資人可不一定相同。”