So much has happened in tech in the
past year, from Facebook’s Cambridge
Analytica scandal to #Me Too. What,
if anything, do you see changing?
We’re only starting to find out what can
happen to our data on the big tech platforms, and how little control we’ve had
over it—and even Facebook has had over
it. It’s 100 percent clear the tech platforms
cannot manage themselves. I’m not a fan
of regulation, but that may be the only
way to make things better. We’ve reached
the last resort. Other options have failed.
For women in tech, this will be a really
important year. We’ve had all these things
happen, and now we have people who are
actually open to change. I want to push as
much change through as possible.
You’ve worked in venture capital,
at startups, and at big tech companies.
What value do you think VCs bring
They bring value in their networks. And
they’ve seen a lot of things, so they can
potentially help you troubleshoot. But
they also bring a lot of baggage. VCs want
a board seat. They may have giant egos
and want you to do something a certain
way. They may want you to go public, or
sell earlier than you want to sell. They
may be tracking metrics that you don’t
So do you advise founders to seek, or
avoid, venture investors?
I don’t know that I would raise venture
Ellen Pao knows the startup world—and its skeletons—inside and out. The former
venture capitalist and one-time CEO of Reddit is now the co-founder and CEO of
Project Include, a nonprofit that advises tech companies on diversity and inclusion.
Pao first rocked Silicon Valley in 2012 by suing her employer, legendary venture firm
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, for gender discrimination. Though she ultimately lost,
her lawsuit sparked a long-overdue reckoning about how the tech industry treats
women and people of color, and helped lay the groundwork for the ongoing #Me Too
movement. In a wide-ranging interview, Pao explains why this is a critical moment for
women in Silicon Valley, calls for greater regulation of the biggest internet companies,
and warns entrepreneurs against the worst mistakes she sees founders make.
BY KIMBERLY WEISUL
Ellen Pao ; THE INC. INTERVIEW CEO.
PHOTOGRAPH BY KATIE THOMPSON ; ; ; SEPTEMBER 2018 ; INC. ; 79