I was an investor, she was a founder…

Posted on June 23, 2017. Filed under: venture capital |

I met my wife at a tech holiday party. I saw her from across the party and the rest of the people in the room disappeared…but this story doesn’t go the way you think. We didn’t get to talking, and laughing, and go for a drink after the event. We didn’t flirt. We talked product…and business…and design…because she was there as a founder, not as my potential date. I was a Partner at Lerer Ventures at the time, and despite obviously finding her attractive from across the room, the second I learned she was a founder, I chose to appreciate her platonically, as a peer. It wasn’t even a question.

I knew how hard it was for women to network in our field. I knew that half the men in the room would confuse her attempts to do business as romantic interest. I just wasn’t willing to be a part of that problem…and so we talked, and went our separate ways.

There is absolutely no context where it is appropriate for an investor to make an advance on a founder, no matter how much chemistry is in the air. I waited 6 months, my wife chose a career path as a visual artist instead of a tech entrepreneur, and only then did I reach out and ask her for a date. I think I told her on our first date why I hadn’t asked her out sooner, and I know that the professional respect I showed her was one of the things that let her know I was a good person with a good heart. She liked me MORE because I didn’t ask her out, despite our obvious chemistry.

I guess the point of this story, and why I share it now, is that there is a right way and a wrong way to handle attraction in a professional setting. The right way is to back the fuck off and let people do their work despite any attraction. The wrong way is to blur the line. If the chemistry is real, it can wait…business changes, careers change, no professional context lasts forever…be a decent and respectful person…be context aware…and down the line someone might just marry you for it.

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10 Responses to “I was an investor, she was a founder…”

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[…] I was an investor, she was a founder. [Source] […]

Or, as I always say, “Do your best to be your best self and to behave in a way you won’t regret.” Not for any reward, but for its own sake. When you do that, you have more opportunities in life to connect with others, whether that connection is leaving a good impression on someone you ultimately marry, making a friend, finding a business partner, or enjoying a casual hook up.

That story is just one of many reasons that prove you truly are a good person with a good heart. Thank you for being someone who could “back the fuck off” because that is what a good person does!

Man, you’re on in a million. Congrats to both of you for being adults

[…] was social, it was consensual, but he was, after all, an investor, and I was a female founder. As others have been pointing out, this is part of the professional environment. I was not harmed in any way, […]

[…] It has been quite a few weeks: from the high-profile resignation of Uber’s CEO to reports of sexual harassment by female founders (paywall) and the asymmetry of power amongst VCs and female founders in Silicon Valley to high-profile investors making apologies and leadership shake-ups at a high-profile accelerator. More stories about CEOs being sexually harassed by investors and being inappropriately propositioned continued to emerge. We’ve seen a woman write about how one of the accused men has only ever been generous with her and man write about how it’s perfectly fine for men to desire women and pursue them, irrespective of the circumstances and context. There was a story shared by an investor who set aside his attraction to a female founder until it was a more appropriate time. […]

[…] indifferentes Gefühl. Gestern hatte ich Cheryl Yeoh gefunden, auch spannend. Eben noch dies von Jordon Cooper. Und heute morgen löste sich das mit diesem Artikel hier etwas auf. Genau, das war die Ursache […]

In the current environment for a hyper-sexualized world, it takes a lot of maturity, discipline, and ego-shelving to not feel entitled to the romantic side of the relationship as a male investor interacting with a female entrepreneur.

There are so many stories in the news (assuming that’s why you shared yours) about examples of investors who have habits of not being so prudent and abusing positions of influence.

[…] was social, it was consensual, but he was, after all, an investor, and I was a female founder. As others have been pointing out, this is part of the professional environment. I was not harmed in any way, […]

[…] was social, it was consensual, but he was, after all, an investor, and I was a female founder. As others have been pointing out, this is part of the professional environment. I was not harmed in any way, […]

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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