Sunday, August 13, 2017

How VCs get inadvertently biased

At dinner recently with a VC friend.

VC: I think VCs only judge companies based on how lucrative they are likely to be.  I don't think any VCs actually discount a pitch because it is coming from a woman or minority.  When you were pitching, did you think anyone judged you on anything other than your business?

Me: Several VCs said to me, "This is the first time I'm meeting you, so it will be very tough for me to feel comfortable writing a check for someone I have never met before." 

VC: Ok, that happens.

Me: How many black or Hispanic entrepreneurs are those VCs regularly spending time with?  Probably very few.  So the people they have known for years and feel comfortable backing are going to be other men in their circle.  That is how the bias plays out, even when the VC is trying to stay unbiased.


Wanda said...

There's a great deal of work that has been done on implicit bias that also seems relevant here...

Anonymous said...

VC=Justin C?

Anonymous said...

To be fair the question to ask is, what percentage of black/hispanic entrepreneurs are there in that VC's investment domain? Based on that and what percentage of entrepreneurs the VC meets are black/hispanic would give a rough estimate of existence of bias or not. Same for women, Asians - hey! Asians are still minorities too btw ;-).

Now coming to the point whether bias exists in the VC community, it exists in spades. Is the Kleiner women's restroom still a converted men's shower/lock room? Even today it is mostly a white male club so your final statement is spot on but the logic preceding it is dodgy.