Bold Women Big Ideasby Kay Koplovitz, Peter Israel
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When this book was written in the spring and summer of 2001, women had just begun to tap into the world of equity financing in the venture capital markets. However, it was also just months after Springboard’s first Venture Forum in January 2000, when the mighty technology surge of the late 1990s went into a free fall. Indeed, by 2001, the tech bubble had burst.
Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, had predicted the bursting of this bubble a few years earlier when he called the tech market one of “irrational exuberance.” That irrational time had come.
I was fearful then that women would be victims of “last in, first out” of the equity markets. At the time, only 1.7 percent of venture capital was invested in women entrepreneurs and we were in jeopardy of losing that. But I was determined that this wouldn’t happen to women. Amy Millman, Springboard’s president, agreed. Not us. Not now.
I decided to write this book so entrepreneurs, particularly women, would know that the support networks we were building were committed to their success. We continued to select, train, and present women entrepreneurs in potentially high-growth businesses, and I wanted to capture this initiative in print. I wanted it to inform and inspire women to break into these important capital markets and aspire to build scalable businesses.
After all, I had the experience of founding and building a multibillion-dollar business, USA Networks. The odds of my doing that, starting in the 1970s when almost no one would invest two nickels in a cable television network, much less one that was initially all sports, was next to none.
Yet we succeeded in spades. It was a time of the Wild West in communications that today has yielded hundreds of hugely profitable cable networks worth considerably more than the broadcast markets that mocked our existence back then. When USA Networks was sold in 1998 to Barry Diller and I left the company, it was valued at $4.5 billion. By 2011 its value has tripled.
So I have my own reason and history to underscore my belief that women can do this—build scalable businesses in technology, life sciences, media, clean tech, and much more.
I have often cited Title IX as the genesis of women’s rise in the workplace. So many think of Title IX as having a positive impact on women’s equal right to have sports teams at schools, colleges, and universities. And while I value the positive values women derive from competition in sports, I know the access to medical schools, law schools, and business schools has had a much broader impact. It’s been thirty-nine years since Title IX was enacted in 1972. Today, women represent 46.9 percent of medical-school students, 44 percent of law-school students, and 31.2 percent of students in business schools.
What we need women to understand is the capital markets. It is not an intuitive process. Today over 90 percent of venture capitalists are men. This isn’t to say they automatically reject women entrepreneurs, but rather to acknowledge that their networks are filled with high-testosterone guys who are comfortable with people like themselves. It’s understandable, but not acceptable. We needed to identify women’s entry into the market and make this entry sustainable. We were determined to do this even if it meant building our own nationwide networks.
The challenge was on. We needed to build out a platform that Springboard would have creditability for women entrepreneurs. We reached out to networks of women we thought could provide angel investing to these companies and get them through proof of concept. My partners, Penny Zuckerwise, Amy Wildstein, and I launched Boldcap Ventures backed by forty women investors. Others who came forth were Golden Seeds, Phenomenelle Angels, the Texas Women’s Fund, Belle Capital and many more. Our target of building out the support networks of financial capital and, importantly, human capital, was vital to our success.
There is too much to tell about this network of human capital to recount here. Suffice it to say that this platform for supporting and investing in women is a resounding success today.
I have always wanted measurable success for Springboard Enterprises. This is not a social initiative. It’s pure business. Our companies have to show success in raising competitive funding and to have positive liquidity exits for investors.
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Meet the Author
Kay Koplovitz founded USA Networks in 1977 and ran the company for twenty-one years. She Chaired President Clinton’s National Women’s Business Council and created the non-profit venture capital forum Springboard Enterprises, She is a widely acclaimed national leader in cable television and emerging media business, as well as a successful entrepreneur, seasoned venture capitalist and professional speaker. She is currently Chairman of Koplovitz & Company LLC.
Peter Israel is a writer, editor and a former publisher living in Montclair, New Jersey.
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This book was absolutely awful. I gave applause to Ms. Koplovitz for her success and for launching Springboard 2000 however I picked up the book to learn how to find and gain venture capital. Although promised this book gives no pointers on that subject at all. The entire book is about her and how she worked at USA networks and how she started Springboard 2000. No where does she mention the steps that it will take for a woman entrepreneur to get access to venture capital. This book is more of a biography than a learning tool.
The best part of the book (which I described in the part of my review that is missing by some fluke of the internet) is the fascinating and inspiring story Koplovitz tells of how she changed the money game for the better for women. She gives us background that shows she never hit the glass ceiling as CEO of USA Networks. She had no equity but ran the show. She grew the company from nothing to billions of dollars making the joint venture partners who owned USA rich men. But she did hit a lead ceiling when the company was sold. Although she tried to buy USA herself, she could not break into the old boy network. Regardless of her proven talent, she found herself pushed out of the company so the new 'owner' could play with his new toy. Koplovitz kept on moving determined to make sure women could fund their own businesses from the start without being limited to building up business for others without the reward of ownership. She invented Springboard 2000. The book give us a look at what Springboard 2000 i
I think this book is a great read for those of us who are 'inside dopesters,' follow women's issues, are up and coming entrepreneurs or all of the above. The book shines a bright light on the dirty little world where men play business power games at the expense of women. Koplovitz pulls no punches and names a lot of names--the good, the bad, and the ugly--in this true story of how she came to be about the business of helping women find venture captial for their own businesses. She describes how, after twenty-plus years as CEO of USA Networks, a company she built from nothing into billions of dollars, she was pushed out. Despite her efforts to buy in, the boys with ownership said no. As a result, she never had equity. When Barry Dillar, a dyed in the wool member of the incestuours old boy network, ended up owning USA, he put her out so that he could play with his new toy. But that is only the book's beginning. Koplovitz goes on to describe her catastrophe as a wake up call. She never hit a glass ceil