There were a lot of posts this weekend about harassment in the tech industry (here is one). I get to see a lot of entrepreneurs and investors in my work as a presentation designer. I think that it is good that women bring out the stories in the open, and people are confronted with the consequences of their behavior.

Here are some random observations of a service provider sitting on the sidelines of the VC funding pitch process, nothing of this relates to a specific individual, nor am I taking sides.

VCs come in different forms. Some of them are career executives who worked their way up in the ranks of an organization, and/or managed to raise a fund themselves. Others inherited money, others had a big exit themselves, others were early investors in a tech giant. It is that second group that is different I notice. They are incredibly confident of themselves, make highly intuitive decisions, work mostly solo rather than having a big investment committee to convince. I think that after 10 years in a world when you do make/break decision making, and people constantly come "begging" for your cash, your perception of reality can change a bit.

Related to this is the mixing of personal and professional communication. Twitter DMs, facebook messages, late night networking parties with a healthy supply of alcohol, blur the boundary between work and play. In more traditional industries there is far less of this. Even in finance. A 25 year old pitching her internet startup to VCs at a conference is in a different setting than a 25 year old heiress trying to sell her family business to private equity funds.

People that bubble to the top of hierarchies in finance or business have some sort of charisma, an ability to convince others. There is a disproportionate share of them. You see in social settings that they tend apply that skill in social settings as well (most of the time without crossing the line).

As a professional presentation designer I notice what is clear to everyone: if you are a beautiful appearance on stage you have an advantage in catching the attention of your audience.

Nerd / tech culture in itself is not chauvinist, look around in the computer science department of a university (I spent 5 years there). But companies can be, this independent of whether this company is in tech or not.

Being a man, I can still sense the culture of a place almost the moment you walk in. As a service provider I get to see lots of different companies. The personality of the senior management, the type of support staff that is hired, the way people interact, the layout of the office, the furniture, everything radiates culture. The same is true when observing the dynamics in a late night bar discussion at a networking event.

I don't have a solution for all of this. I think men should behave, women should out the stories, and build an "early detection radar" to avoid getting stuck in the wrong situation.


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