The Secret Shame of an Unacquired Techie
Geege Schuman stashed this in Silicon Valley
Last week, amid the overwrought start-up angst and sexual escapades that clutter the anonymous messaging app Secret, a hint of genuine drama emerged:a post that said, "Google was interested in buying my 5 person company for our team. They hired everyone but me."
In subsequent comments, the shafted start-up striver added more details: She was the only female at her company, a designer who had been with the start-up from the beginning and had overseen its design and marketing, yet had gotten left out when the company was sold to Google for its workers, in what's known as an acqui-hire. "I feel like my world just ended," she wrote.
The thread quickly became the talk of Silicon Valley. It was seeming proof that even within the happy-go-lucky world of tech start-ups, there are winners and losers, and more often than not, the losers in situations like these are the designers, who are more likely to be female than their engineer counterparts, and whose "soft" skills are seen as less valuable than coding chops.
Google comes across as self-serving and possibly sexist in the story:
Purple lightning- your advice is 100% on track with what my lawyer and team is saying. They said the deal was contingent in leaving me behind, and they thought 10k was a decent price for me. Clearly not. I am obviously still heartbroken over my team betraying me. I can't blame them, in a way. As purple lightning guessed, our funding was running out, and google is offering a soft landing for everyone (except me). Now- are they discriminating based on my gender? I have no idea. I'm a startup generalist. I do sales, product/project/ graphics/basically anything that isn't code. I was given a coding and product manager interview. I was given math and logic puzzles. I was told 'I don't believe you did all the things you say you did." So, I have no idea why they didn't give me an offer. But, the company was literally my idea. The product was my idea. I designed the entire UI/ux logo etc. I just have no idea if my gender played a part. How could I know? At this point, my #1 goal is to have my story be a warning to other founders. Don't trust aquihires, don't let them exclude a founder, and don't think google is going to play fair.
Several others chimed in with "Google regularly does this".
Also, it's thanks to Secret that she feels comfortable talking about this at all:
I would like to say two things: I don't know if I would have ever been able to get so much amazing support and advice without secret, hushmail, and anonyfish. Without these services, I would never have told anyone the truth of what was going on. Second- this is an amazing community. I've gotten valuable insight, advice, sympathy, and only a tiny bit of apathy. You've all vastly contributed to a much healthier mental state. Finally- I'm not sure where things will end up, but this thread has touched my life in a real way. Thank you all for taking the time to read this and discuss what happened, and how to avoid having it happen again. Thank you.
She is subrosa on anonyfish and firstname.lastname@example.org on email.