Mike Maples on why so many female founders pitch Floodgate

By Carmel DeAmicis , written on May 9, 2014

From The News Desk

When the Midas List came out this year, only four percent of the top VCs recognized were women. According to the National Venture Capital Association, the number of female VCs has declined from fourteen percent in 2008 to eleven percent in 2011.

And yet, at a time when women’s role in venture seems to be ever dwindling, Floodgate is a firm with not one, but two female partners, a full two thirds of its senior investment team. Mike Maples, our guest at tonight’s PandoMonthly, is outnumbered.

“The women who seem to be really succeeding in venture capital at the moment seem to not be at the legacy firms,” Sarah Lacy told Maples. “What’s causing that?”

Like he had for much of the event, Maples deflected the question, citing his policy on not commenting on how other VCs or entrepreneurs do their job. Instead, he turned the attention back on Floodgate and the firm’s female co-founder — Ann Miura-Ko.

“The reason I think Ann Miura-Ko is so meaningful is not because she’s a good female VC,” Maples said. “I think she’s the best VC in the world right now under 40.” He cited the breadth and quality of the portfolio recruited by her, which included companies ranging from Lyft to ModCloth and Refinery29.

“She’s just kicking ass and taking names,” Maples said.

“Is she doing better than you?” Lacy challenged.

“I’d say — right now — yeah.”

He went on to explain that the reason he thinks Ann is significant in Silicon Valley is because she’s the best, without an asterisk. She’s a super performer, regardless of gender. That fits Floodgate’s overall strategy.

“We don’t have an affirmative action agenda, we just happened to be gender diverse,” Maples explained. When asked, he estimated that 25 percent of the companies pitching Floodgate are founded by women, a fact that’s undoubtedly helped by Miura-Ko and partner Iris Choi’s presence. What's more unique, however, is that about the same ratio of its portfolio companies are women led.

“Gandhi said, 'Try to be the change you want to see,’” Maples said. “So if we end up being a venture firm that’s gender diverse with kick ass returns, that ought to be the statement we want to make, rather than engage in a debate about whether there’s too many women or not enough women [in the venture industry].”

[photo by Brad Jonas for Pando]