Alpha Girls – The Women Who Took On Silicon Valley
An unforgettable story of four women who, through grit and ingenuity, became stars in the cutthroat, high-stakes, male dominated world of venture capital in Silicon Valley, and helped build some of the foremost companies of our time.
Alpha Girls is a comprehensive and intriguing look into the lives of four incredible women.
Magdalena Yesil who arrived in the USA with $43 in her pocket and through grit and determination would go on to help Marc Bentoff build Salesforce.
Mary Jane Elmore came from country Indiana and became one of the first women in the US to make partner at a Venture Capital firm.
Theresia Gouw who was an over achiever since childhood and from working class roots helped build companies such as Facebook, Trulla, Imperva and ForeScout.
Sonja Hoel the first female investing partner at Menlo Ventures who had the knack for investing in global companies such as McAfee, Hotmail and F5 Networks.
Pretty cool women, right?
When I’m not reading and writing, I have a full time job in the finance industry and I’ve also held roles in marketing for various agencies over the years working in male dominated environments throughout. Throughout my career I’ve arrived at meetings where men think i’m there to take the coffee order, or minutes of a meeting when infact i’m there to terminate their contract. I’ve worked for marketing agencies where survival meant being ‘one of the boys’. I’ve been given inappropriate gifts from previous bosses as a temp contractor. Once, I was told I was being too emotional about the loss of a marketing contract, yet when my team leader threw a public wobbly and flipped his table a couple of hours later, he was ‘letting off steam’.
To be fair, I haven’t suffered as much as others and as I reflect over my adult career, it’s been pretty good and I feel incredibly lucky to be where I am today. Even more so after reading the inspiring Alpha Girls.
Duffy’s thoughts on Alpha Girls
Alpha Girls is a detailed account of the lives and careers of four incredible women. What I love about this book, and what makes it different from other ‘women who made it in business’ books is that their careers take centre stage. Yes, the book follows the personal lives of all of these women too. But, without the personal aspect it would be an incredibly dry tome and four VERY long CV’s! Yet, somehow author Julian Guthrie manages to make the careers and deals these women made the priority, and an interesting one at that.
These women were hitting their adult careers at an incredible moment in time. The birth of Silicon Valley. They navigated a male dominated and emerging industry in different ways, however they all came out on top. All while managing children, families, serious illness and culture conflicts.
I’m a great believer, like these women, that to become equal, and remove sexism from the workplace, women can’t close ranks. We need to take everyone on the journey and be inclusive if culture change has a chance of shifting. Alpha Girls explores the shift over the years, demonstrating how far we’ve come and where we need to get to.
I do have one tiny gripe about this book. Why ‘Girls’ in the title? These are stories of strong young women and the word girl seemed a bit off to me. Although I hate terms such as ‘business chick’ or ‘lady boss’. Those terms make me vomit a little bit in my mouth, so it’s a personal thing and I’ll see past it as the content is so strong and engaging.
Alpha Girls is a must read for any woman striving for and surviving a career in a male dominated industry, but it’s also a interesting read for anyone in business who wants to read the stories of four people who made deals of a lifetime, building some of the foremost companies of our time.