Entrepreneurial Women Who Inspire Us
From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, legendary female leaders have shaped the course of our economic destiny. I am proud to consider the women here friends, mentors, and role models — and hope they inspire you as much as they inspire us at 8VC.
As co-founder of one of the largest investment institutions in the world, Sue Wagner is the epitome of a pioneer. Sue served as Vice Chairman and COO of BlackRock, which now manages over $5 trillion in assets. In the early days, she started their international client business and alternative investment efforts. After transitioning the company from VC to strategic ownership, Sue executed their IPO and, among other things, expanded BlackRock’s global presence and capabilities through a series of mergers and acquisitions. While successfully forging a path into uncharted territory, Sue simultaneously championed the promotion of women within the company. She now serves on the board of BlackRock, as well as Apple, SwissRe, and Color Genomics. She continues to be a greatly respected mentor to entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.
In the 1990s and 2000s, Zoe Cruz was one of the most powerful women on Wall Street. As former co-president of Morgan Stanley, Zoe led a global institution through challenging times, remained committed to her leadership vision, and was recognized by everyone for her absolute integrity. She never wavers on her core convictions, and her self-assuredness is a constant inspiration to me to stay true to my beliefs.
As a founding executive at Yahoo! and former President and CEO of Efficient Frontier, Ellen is veteran leader and serial entrepreneur in the tech industry. At Yahoo!, she led the business development and other strategic teams; at Efficient Frontier, one of the original SEM management services, she grew the company to $1 billion under management. Now, she serves as the President and CEO of Shmoop University, an educational publishing company that distributes courses, learning guides and videos across the world. Shmoop’s site hosts 16 million visitors per month and is used in thousands of districts across the country. As an entrepreneur, I learn from Ellen’s consistent ability to take a tiny vision and scale it massively, and I admire her vision to build technology platforms that improve the future of our world.
I grew up with the rise of internet and as an investor today, it’s remarkable to pause and realize the internet wasn’t always a given. Judy is credited as one of the key people in the development of the internet. From her first job at Zilog and then as co-founder of multiple successful companies and CTO of Cisco Systems, she worked on some of the world’s first microprocessors, local area network systems and video streaming products. Judy has taught me that one tiny, seemingly “niche” idea can acquire the momentum to change every industry forever. Her career motivates me to find and invest in the next Judy Estrin.
Maureen is the type of person who confronts ultra-challenging problems head-on and explores unknown frontiers at the intersection of biology and technology. As the former Director of the Genomes to Natural Products Program at the Stanford Genome Technology Center and now founder and CEO of Hexagon Bio, she leads a team of scientists in developing drugs for unsolved conditions. To an unscientic admirer such as myself — it looks as though Maureen is able to pull needles out of haystacks. Through genomic sequencing and synthetic biology, her team is trying to turn the natural drug discovery process on its head.
When people critique the current state of affairs in Silicon Valley they often say: “well, it’s not like they’re trying to cure cancer.” Maria Soloveychik and her team of scientists are actively attempting to do just that. As the founder of Synthex, Maria is committed to leveraging proprietary drug selection technology to cure one of the most wide-spread, complex, and frightening illnesses in healthcare.
My sister is and will continue to be my biggest source of inspiration. She has many titles — confidante, best friend, solution-finder, motivator, and most recently, my co-founder. LisaMarie and I started a company called Monthly Gift, a subscription-based feminine care delivery service and period tracking app. LisaMarie is a fierce operator, building business processes that function like well-oiled machines, and proving that the sum of a great business partnership is far greater than its parts. I hope she inspires everyone who reads this to find their own LisaMarie.