Whitepaper: High Performance Entrepreneurs

Women in High Tech – Summary

Research shows what many have long suspected: women entrepreneurs are poised to lead the next wave of growth in global technology ventures. The full report, prepared by Illuminate Ventures, documents the performance of women entrepreneurs in the past decade and the trends that are propelling them towards critical mass in the high-tech sector.

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  • Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency: The high-tech companies women build are more capital-efficient than the norm. The average venture-backed company run by a woman had achieved comparable early-year revenues, using an average of one-third less committed capital.
  • Big Progress in Recent Times: More women are serving as officers of venture-backed companies with successful exits. In 1988, only 4% of the 134 firms that went public in the U.S. had women in top management positions. Of 2009’s 19 high-tech IPOs, all but two had at least one woman officer.
  • Expanded IP Contributions: From 1985 to 2005, the annual number of U.S. female-invented fractional software patents increased 45-fold – three times the average growth rate in that sector.
  • Growing Influence in Tech: Women-owned or led firms are the fastest growing sector of new venture creation in the U.S., growing at five times the rate of all new firms between 1997 and 2006 – now representing nearly 50% of all privately held businesses.
  • Venture-level Returns: In the past 10 years more than 125 companies with over 200 women co-founders or officers have achieved IPOs or >$50M M&A exits in the U.S. high-tech sector alone.
  • Diversity Improves Performance: Organizations that are the most inclusive of women in top management achieve 35% higher ROE and 34% better total return to shareholders versus their peers – and research shows gender diversity to be particularly valuable where innovation is key.

The bottom line: More than ever before, women are influencing the face of business. They are on the cusp of becoming a leading entrepreneurial force in technology.

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