dot.LA Summit: Women at the Top on How to Expand LA's Tech Scene

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

dot.LA Summit: Women at the Top on How to Expand LA's Tech Scene

As women in tech and venture, Kara Nortman and Robyn Ward heard a lot of nos when they started out. No we won't fund you. No, we don't have positions.

But, it was the yeses that kept them going.

"We have to expand the tent, we have to figure out how to continue. The tent needs to get bigger every day. If every one of us every day can find one more woman to bring into this tent, in some way it gets bigger and bigger," Nortman said.


Tucked away at the corner of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, with a backdrop of the ocean being disrupted by the revving of car engines, the panelists took hold of their mics and loudly welcomed dozens of attendees.

Nortman is the managing partner of Upfront Ventures, one of Los Angeles oldest and most prestigious venture firms. Ward is the CEO of FounderForward, a firm specializing in training and coaching for entrepreneurs and executives. Both talked to Dustin Rosen, managing partner at Wonder Ventures about what helped them rise to their position.

Ward's has had 20-plus years experience in the technology startup space and said it has largely been one occupied by white men. But she sees that changing.

"I walked in here today and I just reveled in the amount of women, the amount of people of color, the age. It was such a diverse group here today. And that wasn't how it was five years ago," Ward exclaimed.

Nortman said when she and Robin first started, there were "the five guys you go to for advice or the five guys you go to who built a tech company."

While there seems to be a rise in women entering the tech scene, statistics show that women in the industry are still grossly unrepresented. Female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies reached an all-time high of 7.4% in 2020 according to Pew Research. And female founded startups still make up less than 3% of all those getting capital.

Rosen asked what men can do to support women and the upward trend of women in the tech industry.

"One of the ways that I would like men to think about this has to do with the culture they're building from and actually moving beyond diversity and actually moving into inclusion," Ward said.

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March Capital Raises $650 Million Fund to Invest in AI Startups

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

March Capital Raises $650 Million Fund to Invest in AI Startups
March Capital founder Jamie Montgomery. Illustration by Dilara Mundy.

Santa Monica-based venture outfit March Capital announced Feb. 3 that it raised its largest fund to date, a $650 million investment vehicle that will be used to back up to 15 startups focused on delivering new uses of artificial intelligence.

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The Three Best Ways to Work With Your Startup Board

Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

The Three Best Ways to Work With Your Startup Board

When launching and running a startup, your board of directors is one of your most valuable assets. If you already understand why you need a board and how to structure your board, it may be tempting to think you can cross that item off the list. But building a board is just the beginning. Now you’ve got to get down to business—together.

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This Week in ‘Raises’: Saviynt Lands $205M, Pagos Secures $34M

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

This Week in ‘Raises’: Saviynt Lands $205M, Pagos Secures $34M
This Week in ‘Raises’:

While it was a slow week of funding in Los Angeles, security vendor Saviynt managed to score $205 million that will be used to meet the company’s growing demand for its converged identity platform and accelerate innovation.

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