A 44-year drought is over.
Ten months after Sequoia Capital chairman Mike Moritz put his foot in his mouth when he said the famed firm wouldn’t “lower our standards” to hire a woman, Sequoia has hired entrepreneur Jess Lee as an investing partner.
Lee joins Sequoia from Yahoo, which bought her online fashion site Polyvore just over a year ago for more than $180 million. Lee is widely respected in the investment community — I’ve heard literally nothing but glowing remarks over the years when her name would come up in investor circles — and has entrepreneurial and operational experience, having been co-founder and CEO of Polyvore. She previously worked at Google for almost four years.
For Sequoia, the hire brings to an end a 44-year run of operating in the U.S. with only men in investment partner roles. Sadly, that kind of disparity in venture capital extends beyond Sequoia. Just 6 percent of senior investors at top venture firms are women, according to PitchBook data cited by Bloomberg, which first reported Lee’s hire.
Lee’s departure from Yahoo makes the Polyvore acquisition look worse than many insiders already thought it was. The acquisition was pushed through by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer despite numerous internal objections, especially about the high price for a relatively small company. Lee was a Mayer favorite, having been part of her program at Google to develop young and promising product managers.