Dear Blackbird. Women in tech are not “corporate girlies.”

Capital Brief: Blackbird-backed Kiki outlined plan to target 'corporate girlies' in December investor memo

Blackbird-backed subletting startup Kiki wrote to investors on Christmas Eve to tell them that it was struggling and would pivot to target the “super niche persona of ‘corporate girlies’" aged between 25 and 28.

The news that Kiki was pivoting from a subletting platform to a NY based “girls club” has been widely ridiculed in the startup ecosystem this week, and has also caused outrage among women given it has a founding team of five men.

Kiki Club's testosterone-fueled founding team believing they could define women's needs would be laughable on its own if it weren't so infuriating. Capital Brief's scoop that the startup was happily categorising women as "corporate girlies" makes it so much worse. And it promotes the same tired, diminishing stereotypes that should be fossils by now.

I'm all for good-faith efforts to serve underrepresented groups. But this ain't it. Kiki's terminology sets inclusion back to the Mad Men era. The brewing brouhaha spotlights the diversity wasteland that is startup leadership. Homogenous teams breed blindspots and build hubristic and superficial products, failing the very users they aim to serve.

Tech still struggles to dismantle barriers to diversity, clinging to the status quo like a security blanket. And the next time, the so-called leaders throw up their hands, asking, "What more could we have done?" I'll point to bullshit like this - where inclusion takes a backseat, and even the fucking girls' club is run by the boys' club.

To Blackbird, let me just say this: the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. When you read this investor memo, were you proud of where your money is going?

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