men a world where women make up roughly half of the global population, though they are historically less present in major industries, the women of the Cloud 100 dominate a space heavily dominated by men: enterprise technology.
This year’s list features eight female-led startups out of 100, up from six last year, focusing on edtech, e-commerce, SaaS and more. However, that is still a smaller percentage than the total number of female founders across all unicorns, which according to Crunchbase data is 12%. A 2021 analysis of Pitchbook data pegged the number of enterprise technology companies with at least one female founder at just 2%.
For Mathilde Collin, CEO of Front, one of the newcomers to the 2022 Cloud 100 list who ranks 100th, the dearth of women in the space is shocking. She said Forbes that when Front announced their recent $65 million fundraiser, their team turned to Crunchbase to find other female-founded and run software-as-a-service companies that were also valued at $1 billion or more. They only found another 10 of 1,360, says Collin.
“I was shocked. I always knew it was pretty bad,” she says. “I have never played the gender card because my fight is not to make a difference between men and women. But I think it’s worth noting, because that can inspire other people.” Collin has pushed for gender equality at Front, and women now make up more than 50% of Front’s managers and 80% of its executive team.
The highest-ranked female-led company on this year’s list is Canva, which sits at number three. CEO Melanie Perkins launched Canva with Cameron Adams and her now-husband Cliff Obrecht in 2013. The company started out as a small yearbook design company and has since grown into a $40 billion powerhouse. The online graphic design tool has helped school organizations, social media managers, students, and businesses create attractive images. “Our company mission is to empower the world to design. And we really mean everybody,” Perkins said. Forbes in 2019.
Ranked 32nd is Guild Education, an educational platform committed to helping the nation’s largest employers design benefit programs that allow employees to attend college for free. The woman behind the $553 million machine is Colorado native Rachel Carlson. Carlson has a long history with forbes, as a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Hall of Fame and a 2017 alumna of the 30 Under 30 list. She also holds a spot on the list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women. After having a difficult professional experience in which she said no one had told her how fairness and compensation work hand in hand, Carlson decided to do things differently when she founded Guild Education in 2015.
“I felt like I could do something different in my own company and teach everyone the value of fairness,” he said. Forbes in 2021. “Now every employee has a position of $15,000 or more.”
“I just felt this real sense of charge, like I had to get it right.”
Not far behind at number 34 is LaunchDarkly, co-founded by Edith Harbaugh in 2014. Harbaugh has established himself as a leader in his industry, previously serving as a judge on the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 Enterprise Technology list. The company is valued at $3 billion, something the co-founder and CEO attributes to LaunchDarkly’s ability to meet the needs of its customers and employees. “How we got there was delighting our customers, making our customers huge fans of what we were doing and also taking care of the team,” Harbaugh said. Forbes at the beginning of this year. With 532 employees and big-name clients like IBM and Grubhub, the software feature management company has proven it can grow year after year.
Karen Peacock had a passion for technology from a young age, taking STEM tutoring jobs as a high school student. She is now the CEO of one of the largest technology companies in the US Intercom, ranked No. 35 on this year’s list, is a $1.2 billion customer communications platform with customers from high profile like Meta, Contentful and Microsoft. During a 2019 SXSW panel, she talked about being the only woman in male-dominated spaces.
“In a lot of the settings I was in, especially at the time, I was the only woman. I just felt this real sense of charge, like I had to get it right,” Peacock said. “Otherwise, I would be letting my gender down.” Peacock is proud to support women in technology and create a space for more women to occupy.
Bernadette Nixon is the CEO of Algolia, a newcomer to the Cloud 100. The API discovery and search platform is at number 39 on this year’s list. In addition to being run by women, more than 50% of its employees identify as female, according to a company-wide survey, something unheard of in the tech industry. Nixon explained that Algolia was built with the user in mind and hopes its 12,500 customers will use the platform for inspiration. “It’s driving search across apps and websites, but it’s also inspiring people on that journey of discovery,” she said.
Israeli-born Eynat Guez has more than 20 years of experience managing the global workforce that she put to good use when she founded Papaya Global in 2016. The company is one of Israel’s fastest-growing startups, with a valuation of $3.7 billion and one more year. year revenue growth rate of 300%. The company moved up 24 places from last year’s list, reaching 74th place. As CEO, Eynat views diversity as a core value of the company, and half of her 200 employees identify as women.
Co-founder and CEO Laura Behrens Wu founded Shippo in 2014 with a classmate as an online store. But the two transitioned to shipping once they noticed that their peers with other online stores were facing challenges getting their products to customers.
“It was such an obvious problem when we started running our business online. When it comes to shipping, it’s still quite a difficult thing to understand,” said Behrens Wu. This year, the billion-dollar e-commerce shipping platform jumped to 85th place, up nine places from 2021. Born in Germany, Behrens Wu attended university in Switzerland. He came to the US in 2013 for an internship and has stayed ever since, at Shippo’s headquarters in San Francisco.
Although this year’s list features more women-led businesses than in previous years, there are still stumbling blocks within the startup space that need to be addressed, particularly the funding gap. According to Pitchbook, companies founded exclusively by women only amassed 2% of all funding backed by venture capital between 2020 and 2021, while companies with at least one female founder received 15.6% of funding. Women only make up 2.4% of startup founders, and there are also fewer women in the venture capital space, with women making up just 12% of executives at venture capital firms.
Another issue faced by women leading startups is the pay gap. According to Kruze Consulting, in 2022, the average startup CEO salary is $150,000. Male CEOs average about $3,000 more than that, while female CEOs average more than $17,000 below average. Fewer dollars in endorsement means female CEOs are likely to take home lower salaries.
However, there is reason for hope: Pitchbook found that venture capital funding for female-led startups increased by 83% between 2020 and 2021.
“The B2B space seems to be really male dominated,” said Behrens Wu. “I’m excited to be on this list because it’s nice to show other future female founders that the B2B space is a great place to start businesses.”
Alex Konrad and Michaella Huck contributed reporting.
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