Ms. Clayton brings up some very interesting points and observations about the hiring of software developers and how they are treated in the workplace. It’s a bit of a rant to be sure, but with some insights.
…Billy Beane was allowed to languish in baseball for ten years in spite of a poor track record of success because he had the right look. Everyone was waiting for him to shake off whatever was wrong with him so that he could be the player everyone imagined he could be. Baseball scouting is less about what someone has done and more about what you can imaging them becoming.
This applies so much to technology as well. We have the myth of the 20-year-old programmer in a hoodie who writes code that changes the world. We have ingrained in ourselves what we think a programmer is and how theyre supposed to look and act. If youre a venture capitalist, youre not looking at a track record of past success, youre looking for someone that feels right. You look at what you imaging that person can be rather than who they are.
Having several failed start ups is seen as a bonus, but only if youre the right kind of person. People are willing to keep giving you chances because they have a gut feeling that you are going to become something even though you have no past track record to back it up.
If youre black, or female, or trans, or some other underrepresented minority group, its harder for venture capitalists to imagine what you could become. It doesnt matter as much if you have a solid business plan or if youre doing something no one else is doing. If its something that is outside of their scope of understanding, youre not going to sell them of the fantasy of being Peter Theil investing in Facebook.