The monochromatic world of venture capitalism is nothing new. If you work in the industry, or touch it in any way, you’ve seen the not so surprising similarities in people working at venture capital funds, startups and the industry as a whole. It’s dominated by white males.

Cameron Howe of Halt And Catch Fire
Cameron Howe – IndieWire

Let’s blow the whistle on this and call it what it is, anything but diverse.

In an area of the world that prides itself on diversity and progressive social culture, it’s embarrassing.

It is not a question of naive justice or kindergarten-level equality. It is a question of survival and stability for the whole ecosystem. When only one category of people make judgement on what works and what doesn’t – we end up with a very boring, one-sided version of the future.

Sexism is the most obvious example of this diversity problem.

Julia Carrie Wong from the Guardian was one of the first to strip this truth naked in public. She points out how that tech moguls like Elon Musk barely follow any women on Twitter.

Elon did not appreciate these comments.

Here’s Why Everyone Gets So Defensive About Sexism
I had an interesting conversations with Pavel Cherkashin, managing partner at GVA Capital, who thinks diversity is holding tech back from one of the biggest waves of innovation in history.

“More women in our industry” he says, “is a critical survival factor.”

“The old generation of investors has a very specific idea of what a startup should look like. It creates a very narrow corridor for entrepreneurs creating thousands of indistinguishable entities. Creativity in doing business is not rewarded. We get the same template-based startups, same language on the websites, same features on the apps.

We need to change that. The future of tech is in diversity.

Different cultures and attitudes bring innovation in ways we can’t even imagine right now.

Diversity doesn’t mean we need to force women to do men’s job, nor we should try to ignore gender differences. Instead of trying to blend everyone together, why not celebrate our differences and what they bring to the innovation table.

We can’t ignore centuries of evolution. Our bodies and biological programming are not going to change.

We can use these differences to create different solutions in technology. Young moms may not be able to spend long hours in the office or focus on closing a deal, but may come with creative solutions to a lot of problems men would consider unsolvable.”

Consumer Technology Markets Are Becoming Female-driven
Women lead almost all of consumer technology today. From home appliances to cars, healthcare and retail. One after another, traditional male-driven industries evolve to accommodate a female demographic. Social media started as a place for male students to gossip about hot chicks on campus, but quickly changed under into recipes and fashion. It is now driven majorly by women.

Take online dating as an extreme outpost of male territory. In the old times, online dating sites would offer a lot of sophisticated filters, registration and verification procedures, tests and embarrassment. You had to be desperate to go there. Then swiping was invented to turn online dating into a game. Now the online dating game is played by female rules.”

The roots of this paradigm are very deep. Pavel thinks that women are behind the revolution in consumer software design that many industry experts and venture capitalists are still not willing to accept.

Male Software Versus Female Software

“The traditional way of writing software was focusing on features and functions. It’s a very male approach. Make as many tools as possible, put them on shelves in the garage, so that you can easily find the one as fast as possible.

Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Office are great examples of male software. Even the developers of these software suites don’t know how to use all of their features, but keep adding new ones.

I bet the Adobe engineers working on new Photoshop features thought Instagram was a joke. ‘What’s the big deal? I built these features in Photoshop two decades ago’ they’d say.

That’s the male approach to software, and this mindset is at the core of the venture capitalist industry.

The monochromatic investor (engineer, male, etc.) wouldn’t think a one click post online is breakthrough innovation.

Female innovation is about less action and higher impact.

The ideal software for a woman consists of one heart-shaped pink button that you press to make your family happy and your friends jealous. Think Instagram or Apple. No customization, no broad set of technical features. It just works. This is the critical part that has been missing in the male dominated technology industry for decades.

Female technology is not meant for women only. Men love using female technology.

When women take control of software design it makes technology accessible to any age, culture of belief system. Feminized technology is perhaps the biggest innovation in the entire industry, but 9 out of 10 investors will still look at features for value.

Skype, at it’s beginning, didn’t innovate much in IP telephony, but the user interface was ideal to call grandma. Apple offered a similar approach, re-packaging old innovations into a more usable interface. Google fought this for a decade, trying to prove that Android could survive as male feature-based software. (Although, with brute force they did a surprisingly good job making profit for so long.) With the announcement of the new Pixel phone, Google has embraced female technology.”

How Diversity Will Shape The Future Of Technology
This opens a ton of new opportunities if we actually implement and wake up to the point Pavel is making.

Take the auto industry, they have no clue how to execute this type of product development. It’s one thing to invent self driving cars, but the next level of innovation will come when a woman designs a car that will take the kids to school.

This is innovation men cannot do. They will over-complicate things with features and customization. Male engineers invent revolutionary technologies, but they only turn into mass market products when women put a feminine touch on them. Venture firms who let women lead will make a huge impact in the industry. Moms and wives should have much a stronger voice on the boards of these firms.