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Can you fundraise in Silicon Valley while pregnant? (getsourcery.com)
84 points by drpp on Mar 25, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 121 comments

I thought that money raising is for people who put all their effort into making a fast-growing company and need money to make the growth even faster. It's about choosing not having a life in return for the possibility for creating a big company.

I have no problem with that person being a male or female. But I can't imagine any person (mom or dad) being able to put 15 hours a day to a company with the baby after the baby is born. That's the first thing the article should deal with.

A man can conceal the fact of his expecting a child soon. A woman, usually, is unable to do so. Both will be affected by the child, but the investor may be more likely to favour the man, which is unfair.

Would I invest in a startup with the founder about to have a baby? No. Either they will be dedicating a big part of their life in the near future to raising that baby correctly, or they will be ignoring that baby and leaving someone else to raise it. I find the second outcome even worse than the first, but I'm not going to invest in either.

Now a man might be able to deceive me by simply not disclosing this while a woman is going to have a very difficult time. But I wouldn't say this is unfair: the man is simply easier able to pass off his awfulness than the woman.

It's like saying a woman is more likely to be able to shoplift and get away with it than a man and this is unfair. I don't know if that is true, but if it is, it's certainly not 'unfair'.

A parent has to deeply consider whether they will be able to dedicate sufficient attention to their child and their company. Some may determine they can't, some that they can with reasonable accommodation, and some will decide to give either the child or the company short shrift.

The woman, by virtue of being visibly pregnant, will have to suffer the potential investor guessing which of the three she is, while the man will not. The investor doesn't know what that person's family dynamic is.

Similarly, lots of people make incorrect assumptions about what a physically disabled person will be able to accomplish, and the person with the disability suffers their bias. I think it's up to the person with the disability, or the parent, to judge whether founding a company is appropriate.

Of course, that doesn't mean you have to fund them. After all, it's your money. All I'm saying is that there are a lot of preconceived notions we have about parenting based on very deep-seated cultural norms and biases which may not always be accurate.

How much time does it take to "raise a baby correctly?" Parenting is heavily driven by cargo culting, old wives' tales, and conventional wisdom; but very little by actual data.

A metric major fuck ton.

If you truly want to be present and have an active role in your child's life, growth, development et al it's going to force your priorities to shuffle around.

If your "startup" is still a priority (but not above your child) you aren't going to be in the office from sun up to sun down. Period.

You'll have to make up those hours later (when the child is sleeping) however, in months 0-24, that's really tough as most children (at least not mine) didn't sleep well during that phase.

During those years, and for me it spanned 5 calendar years given multiple children, working late at night was a luxury, not an option I could plan on.

I however, disclosed that when taking a CTO position at a company that just wrapped up a ~$20 dollar round. It was transparent to them and set the right expectations.

I do acknowledge that a company in that stage albeit not out of the woods, is not in the same position in the seed, Series-A phase.

If you look in my comment history I gave a "day in the life of" for my schedule on how I manage running a startup and keeping my family, health, self priority #1, #2, and #3. It's buried in there somewhere.

> A metric major fuck ton.

[Citation needed]

I don't have have reliable scientific evidence either way, but my speculation is that the vast majority of differences in outcomes between kids can be attributed to: genetics, nutrition, parental wealth, and education (in that order). I've found no reason to believe that "hav[ing] an active role in your child's life" (versus hiring good nannies and teachers to do the same), has much long-term impact on kids. Sometimes, when I'm cynical, I think it's a kind of moralistic conventional wisdom that's mostly perpetuated as a way to keep women "in their place."

I think the key qualifier to "A metric major fuck ton" in the gp comment is the statement immediately afterward: "If you truly want to be present and have an active role in your child's life, growth, development et al it's going to force your priorities to shuffle around."

Of course with sufficient money you can buy excellent replacement care. I would slightly reorder you attribution list, putting parental wealth at the beginning, since that can practically overcome all the rest (especially nutrition and education - genetics is tougher, but short of life-altering conditions money can overcome that too).

Yeah, that's why the qualifier is there. I COMPLETELY agree yo can outsource that. Hell, provably even provide a materially better outcome however, if you/your are involved, it takes you shifting priorities.

Other things I've added is putting my phone on a shelf when I come home and only answering emails after my kids have gone to bed and my wife and I have had some time to hang out.

I also take two lunches a week where I hit the gym and go two additional times (in the evening and once in the morning on the weekends).

My point being, the business I help run is thriving, dates/goals are being met, people are happy, and the world kept turning.

Making my career priority #4 has ultimately made me better at my career. No burnout, better focus and creativity, etc.

I honestly wish I did this when I got into the startup space back in 2004 where if you didn't work ~80 hours a week you were a freak.

Good for you. I think more people should embrace this kind of adaptability and prioritization as startup employees as well as founders (at least founders beyond the early stage).


I would say I've updated this to state that I am out of the house around 8:30 am now spending even more time with my kids.

I still get up around ~5:30 - 6:00 am, but don't bounce out of the house as early.

Also, my kids are sleeping better now that they are older (and sleeping in) so I need to stay home later to spend quality time with them each morning.

At the same time, a single man has less options for having a baby than a single woman, thus there is still inequality in the risk.

I don't quite follow - you're saying it's easier for a woman to have a child than a man?

From a purely biological perspective this seems backwards to me. A desirable man could conceivably produce many children over the course of nine months, while a woman can have only one pregnancy.

Edit - I do recognize that in many species (humans included) females are more likely to reproduce than males. Given that the sorts of males who found companies are probably relatively high-status individuals, though, I would suggest that the likelihood of either being able to reproduce is pretty decent, and relates to choice rather than mate availability.

A man cannot have a child by himself, he requires someone to be a surrogate mother, which is expensive, rare, and in many cases legally and ethically grey. A single woman can (due to certain medical procedures where the needed biological material is already in stock), and while a pregnancy is not cheap, there are no where near the significant legal and moral issues.

Of course either could adopt a child if they really wanted to. So really we need to determine are we comparing extremes to extremes, or are we comparing what actually happens in the population (and at what point do we disagree and thus need to begin supporting our ideas).

I see what you mean. I misinterpreted your original comment, thanks for clarifying.

Bluntly, I assume a woman will be far more involved in childcare than a man. This is backed up by the fact that it's often true, and is a reasonable prior. A male ceo -- and I've worked for several of these -- can / often does have a housewife, and is able to dump virtually all childcare off onto her. Crucially including getting up all night to breastfeed. Women often don't have that and/or don't want that. Not to mention pregnancy can cause severe medical complications (physical injury, post partum depression, etc). I've also seen several ambitious women in my personal life have a baby then decide to transition to a more relaxed career track to focus on the child / have more children.

If I were working for any ceo who decided to have a baby, but particularly a woman, I'd want to know about his or her commitment to the business that I'm investing my time, life, and money into. Being a ceo is generally not a 9-5 M-F job, so explaining how you're going to juggle that with the demands of childcare, breastfeeding should you chose to do so, business travel, business needs, etc is fair game when my personal financial results are entangled with the business outcome.

If you're planning on doing what Marissa did and installing a nanny next to your office, great. If you're planning on taking 4 months off for your personal project, I'm going to re-evaluate my dedication to the business if the ceo isn't more dedicated than me.

NB: I currently work for a female ceo; she and her partner have an au pair but he has damaged his career to provide more childcare than her.

> Bluntly, I assume a woman will be far more involved in childcare than a man.

That's a fair assumption across an entire population, but I doubt it applies very well to the population of women looking for funding. They're going to be a lot more likely than the average woman to prioritize business over childcare, and a lot more likely to have a stay-at-home spouse.

A child needs all the nurturing it can get. Choosing to start a company and raise funding while a human being needs you more than it ever will is selfish as well as morally and ethically wrong.

Do you feel the same about the men who do it?

Also, historically, lots of kids, particularly of the upper class, were largely raised by nannies and it appears to have worked.

I think women make better caretakers. A father can stay home and be the caretaker, but I think a mother will have a more positive nurturing influence on the child's life if she is there as much as she can be.

If you can afford a nanny, I wouldn't think you'd be raising funding.

"I think women make better caretakers. A father can stay home and be the caretaker, but I think a mother will have a more positive nurturing influence on the child's life if she is there as much as she can be."

You can think that, but it is most certainly not going to be accepted as fact by the many caretaker fathers out there. Nor, I believe, can you take it for granted that mothers in heterosexual two-parent households assume they are better caretakers than their partners.

Would you argue that a child raised by two fathers is at an inherent disadvantage to one raised by two mothers?

Yes. Nature and evolution itself tells us that its optimal to be raised by a mother and a father. To argue otherwise would be to argue against evolution.

This is horseshit. Evolution also says you're supposed to die in your 30s, wracked with parasites and diseases. But my guess is you "argue against evolution" every goddamn day when you brush your teeth. Two obvious problems:

One is your indulging in the naturalistic fallacy, aka the is-ought fallacy. What exists tells us nothing about what's right. If it did, then change would always be wrong. It's a big philosophical mistake, especially in one built around creating technological change.

The other is you're creating the sort of evolutionary "just-so story" that Gould called out as early as 1978. You have a personal fantasy that in our evolutionary environment each child was actively raised by a mother and a father. Is this based on careful examination of hominid fossils? No. It's based on very particular Western late 20th-century ideals of what a "family" is.

What you're doing isn't science. Its dressing your unconsidered prejudices up in a lab coat. And then using the authority of science to push a particular social agenda that involves keeping women at home. That's 100% horseshit.

And yet research tells us that two fathers raise children who are as well adapted in every way as ones raised by a father and a mother, and that two mothers raise children who're better adapted.

(I find it slightly hilarious that you think that children had only two raisers In The Ancestral Environment.)

Right... So when a male polar bear kills the cubs so the mother can mate again that's nature confirming your theory? Or when apes keep harems and kill or drive off competition, if you prefer primates? Or how primates with testicles as large as humans are never monogamous?

All studies of outcomes ignored, naturally...

It's perfectly fine to disagree, but the courtesy of a counterargument would be appreciated.

Expecting anyone to do 15hrs of useful work for a startup in a day is just foolish. There is lots of data to show that most of that 15hrs is just going to be a damaging waste of time. I would never invest in someone that naive.

They could if they have live-in relatives helping out, such as the grandparents of the baby.

In my experience, people tend to seriously underestimate the amount of work a baby takes, and the strain it adds to relationships, work life, and emotional health. I certainly did.

I think it's reasonable for investors to wonder if a person's commitment won't change when they have a baby. I would advise the authors that they really can't forsee what their priorities will be like when the baby comes. It sounds trite, but a baby changes your whole life. It will add an incredible amount of stress that will probably make you reevaluate your priorities.

If I were an investor, I would hold off until they had the baby, and it was at least a few months old. Then both the founders could really know how committed they still were to the company.

[edit: grammar]

Purely for the purposes of clarity:

Is that you'd hold any founder expecting a baby to the same standard, male or female? (though it is normally easier to recognize a pregnant woman than someone with a pregnant partner)

Or do you see the load you describe falling primarily upon women?

Any founder, male or female. I'm male, and having a baby has been a whole lot more strain then I expected. Granted, I try to take an active role in caring for the baby, so that's different than your typical male CEO maybe.

I think it's a lot easier to tell that a female founder is about to have a baby. Most VCs would probably balk if they heard from a founder "My wife is eight months pregnant", but men have the option of not bringing that up, while it would be a challenge for a pregnant woman to hide it.

Completely true, and I alluded to that in my question.

I was simply trying to understand if the above poster was saying "I consider any founder about to have a child as more risky" or if the above poster was saying "I consider any WOMAN about to have a child as more risky". In the latter case it doesn't matter how easy/hard it is to determine if someone has a pregnant partner.

As that poster has indicated it's the former, this difficulty of detection does become an issue: One that I have no good solution to. As it happens, I fully believe in the difficulty of raising young children, for any gender, so I think it's a legit concern, but it raises an automatic advantage to men over women even when they're otherwise in the same situation.

Females have to face the physical/mental side effects of pregnancy in addition to the complications of child care. Females become the primary care taker at higher rates than males. Primary care takers are less productive and less devoted.

This isn't just a coincidence. Females have the choice of having a child while males do not. Males only have the choice to give a female the choice of having a child with the male. Naturally, the person who makes the choice of having a child most likely values children more, which leads to a higher chance of becoming the primary care taker. There are also benefits that are exclusive to female primary care takers.

If a female and a male have the same profile and they both are expecting children, the male will have a higher expected value because of the physical/emotional complications of a pregnancy and a lower chance of being the primary care taker.

People are investing real money here. It is what it is.

This comment is heading dangerously toward generic ideological territory, which usually means yet another tedious flamewar. I'm tempted to detach it and mark it off-topic, but will hold off.

In general on HN, it's better to keep one's comments anchored in something specific about the original story than to go off into provocative generalization. There's nearly always an ideological agenda behind the latter, and those are of interest to no one except holders of the same agenda and its opposite.

Then change "it". "It" is a problem, and "it" is wrong.

By your logic, before any investment is made a complete health scan of all founders should be completed, including a mental health assay.

If a founder gets cancer, should they be fired? They're going to have to take time off to get it removed, followed by months if not years of time lost to chemotherapy.

If you replace tumor with baby, and chemotherapy with pediatric appointments, is there any difference?

Anecdote: When I was 13, my father, CEO of a subsidiary of a large Japanese conglomerate, was treated for and cleared of prostate cancer. It runs in my family and killed his father and grandfather. When he returned to work about 4 weeks later, he was fired as the larger corporation had decided that it was too risky to have someone that could get sick be a C level employee. It is what it is?

It is a false comparison because having a baby is a choice and largely avoidable.

Maybe it'd be more comparable to a chain smoker who smoked since ten and it's in his fifties.

Getting fired for health related issues is also another false comparison. Here we're talking getting a private investment. Difference is that the first case is already covered by law (and those also cover hiring, as difficult to prove discrimination can be)

You seem to be reacting defensively to a post that explicitly stated I was asking purely for clarity.

Now, given EITHER ANSWER, there are discussions that can be had, but I didn't raise them.

Would you say it is unnatural to assume that a mother is more likely to be preoccupied with her baby than the father? If the plan is for the father to take over, why not mention it while fundraising?

Even so, there is physical strain that is likely to take a toll on the mother, which might cost a few productive months. Breastfeeding might also be an issue, waking the mother several times per night.

You've raised questions as if I had made an argument in the opposite. Instead, I asked purely for clarity.

It's always a challenge to resolve the "separate but equal" concepts that arise from a mix of different biologies and desire for egalitarian society. I asked for the clarity because I wanted any such discussions to be directed at the right audiences, in the right context.

Apparently I failed at that, since you felt I was taking a strong position.

Because it's nobody's business what the home life plans are.

What makes you entitled to receiving somebodies money, though? If they feel they want to know about your home life, and you don't want to tell, why should they be obliged to give you money? It's fine if you want to keep it private, but other people have the right to spend their money as they wish, too.

Nobody said anything about being entitled to someone else's money. So put that straw man away.

The article is about raising money.

Which is not being entitled to someone else's money.

If you say you should receive the same offers, it translates to "being entitled to" receiving the same offers.

Given a lot of the stupid stuff investors have backed, with lots of money, I can't really take their arguments seriously.

Can you fundraise if you openly say that you have a time-intensive hobby that you will under no circumstances give up for working on your company?

Thanks to modern contraceptive methods getting pregnant is a choice. The same as doing a time-intense hobby. If you would not finance someone who openly says that he/she will not give up his/her time-intense hobby for the company, isn't this the same as not financing people who are pregnant?

So similarly, potential investors should screen all men to make sure they and their partner aren't expecting children anytime soon? This would maybe be a defensible* position if it were applied equally, but it's not.

*But actually it's not really. In today's world, with varying family types and options for care, it is possible for people to have children and give their all to a company. For many (most?) people that isn't the best option, but it is possible.

Not to mention that one has to wonder what the point of all this is if we're going to deny people one of the most basic aspects of the human experience. I'm all for family planning, smaller families for the sake of the planet, etc. but c'mon, are we going to tell ambitious people they can pretty much _never_ have kids? Aren't these the sort of folks we should be hoping _do_ make copies of themselves?

No one suggested 'pretty much never.' Early stage fund raising is often the most stressful and time consuming part of starting a business, and pregnancy/first few months is usually the most stressful/time consuming part of having a child. Both of those are usually less than 1 year commitments. It's fair to suggest that it's not a great idea to take them on at the same time (for either parent.)

Who says that you have to found a company and found a family at the same time? Why can't one do that at different times (e.g. some years between) when these goals won't be in hard conflict?

Nobody says you have to. I am proposing an alternate value system that says we don't need to claim these things are always absolutely mutually exclusive. I think it depends on the company, the parent(s), the child, the culture, the legal framework around parenting and work, and a zillion other things. Maybe you live with your extended family and it's understood that a grandparent will take on a lot of the work. Or an uncle. Or maybe your government provides extensive day care and education options. Or maybe you have an office where a child can be present.

From the perspective of the VC, yeah, it seems unfair to screen based on that - but it also seems unfair to screen based on looks or personality or accent or whatever, all of which is (probably?) happening.

From the perspective of the founder - obviously that's a personal choice. I personally wouldn't be looking to start a new venture and actively seek funding if my wife was pregnant, more than likely waiting it out for a few months won't hurt anything. Even if you are in a situation like you described, being pregnant takes up a lot of time that can't be outsourced, like pre-natal doctor visits. Also in both of my wife's pregnancies so far she's had to be rushed to the hospital during the pregnancy and spend a few days there, and on the last one she had to have a fairly intense emergency surgery. Honestly in my anecdotal experience those situations aren't uncommon.

On the other hand if I was already actively working on a startup before the pregnancy and needed to close another round before the baby came, I'd do my best make that happen.

Unconscious (and conscious) biases on looks and personality and looks certainly do happen but the specific issue with pregnancy is gendered discrimination[1]. And while I agree that personally I wouldn't want to start a company while with a partner who is expecting, I don't think our systems that enable founding a company should enforce that, especially when there's no indication that such a standard is applied equally between genders. I also believe that there are significantly better indicators of someone's ability/willingness to put in the extraordinary amount of time to build a company than whether they have/will have children because I and many others have worked under great people who build companies and have families.

[1]Actually, there's a strong argument that biases based on appearance produce gendered discrimination, but that's another issue.

> I and many others have worked under great people who build companies and have families.

This is the part that I don't get and that I feel like a lot of comments on this thread are talking past each on. This isn't about just having a family (right?) it's about actively fund-raising while expecting a child. I would not only agree with that last point you made but go so far as so say that I strongly prefer to work for people who have children / families (or at least a respect for the institution of family) as I believe that makes them more empathetic and relate-able. That still doesn't mean it's a great idea to start a startup and raise funds while also expecting a child.

EDIT: FWIW I also don't think that our system should enforce this, whether it's a good idea or not, and yes it's absolutely unfair that it's gendered - or at least it's unfair that an expectant father is more able to hide the fact that he's expecting than a mother. I'm not sure that it's reasonable to expect a VC to ignore that once they know, though.

What if the father will be the primary caregiver? Plenty of people will fundraise if their spouse has a time-intensive hobby.

>I actually find the hobby energizing. I plan to take a few weeks off, and we’re lucky to have a spare room in our current Sourcery office, which I will convert into a hobby room. I’m working on hiring a personal hobby assistant, and am fortunate to be able to draw on the help of friends.

I'm not sure how to read this other than equivalence which makes me wonder how out of touch this is with "the world". Is business what we do without children? Can we really walk in our customers shoes with understand this essential part of human life or are children now just another optional activity that people just opt out of if they're too busy consuming? And people wonder why the demographics of the country are skewing conservative.

Or say you are planning to finish grad school while also seeking funding / starting a startup. Sure you could hide that from the VCs, but if you didn't hide it (well enough) could you blame them for going cold based on your plans? Is it realistic to try to do both at the same time?

>Can you fundraise if you openly say that you have a >time-intensive hobby that you will under no circumstances >give up for working on your company?

You mean like reading HN?

Even if your hobby is replying to all the people on HN who are Wrong On The Internet, that's still less time-intensive than having a kid.

> But just because they aren’t asking, it doesn’t mean the pregnancy isn’t foremost in their minds. It is almost worse left unaddressed.

> On a call last month, a male investor finally raised the issue of pregnancy

> After the call with the investor who questioned whether her pregnancy would affect her ability to close the round, Na’ama was stirred. She told me that this is the first time she felt what it is like to be a woman, rather than a person, in her interactions with investors.

This feels like it might be a reason (although I'm sure there are others) that investors don't bring it up. You talk about being uncomfortable with people not bringing it up, then someone does (in a way that didn't seem inappropriate based on what you wrote, but I could be misreading), and then it makes you uncomfortable that they asked. It feels like there's really no way to win from the investor side.

Na'ama sounds like she handled the question really well, which seems like a big win for her in an investor's eyes (at least the good ones). From your perspective, if she's got a great answer to the question, wouldn't you want an investor that asks you how this major, life changing event is going to affect your team? For the sake of conversation (since this is being had in other threads) let's assume that said investor would also ask a man that question if they knew his partner was about to have a child.

As someone who has personally been pregnant (several times!) let me assure you that when you see a pregnant woman, you have no idea whatsoever whether she is feeling

- well

- ill

- overwhelmed

- confident

- anything else

because every pregnancy is different, and every woman is different, and every family is different. You cannot safely assume anything about a pregnant woman. So her pregnancy can't help you reliably judge whether she can handle being CEO.

For that matter, you can't safely assume a woman is pregnant even if it seems obvious. I knew a woman with an abdominal tumor who kept getting asked when the baby was due.

>because every pregnancy is different, and every woman is different, and every family is different. You cannot safely assume anything about a pregnant woman. So her pregnancy can't help you reliably judge whether she can handle being CEO.

Couldn't this logic be applied to almost anything about any person and thus leave one saying that nothing can reliably be used to judge whether someone can handle being a CEO?

No, I'm simply saying that pregnancy is a less reliable guide than you might assume if you have a fixed idea of what it means to be a pregnant woman.

Man here, wife went through hell in her pregnancy so I might be biased, but talking with other pregnant women in our lives, in general, they are happy to be pregnant, but from that, the feeling is more skewed to the complaining/problems than the I can do this mentality. More 'I want to lay in bed all day' vs 'things to do, lets hush hush hush, do things, build stuff'.

Really people? Remove the fact that she's pregnant from the picture, instead focus on the fact that she's unlikely to be highly involved in the company for approximately 6 to nine months regardless of the reason. Sometimes that happens to founders. Then evaluate the investment opportunity conditioned on this.

That could be fine. Or not. I may evaluate the company as simply having a temporarily inactive co-founder. That's hardly uncommon. Not ideal, but if everything else is in place (remaining team can meet or exceed expectations) then, sure I'd invest.

And no, I don't expect founders to put in 15 hours days as a rule. That means you're hardly getting adequate sleep and will end up making moronic decisions. That's frankly idiotic. I don't care how much you work. Focus on the metrics that matter. Some startups require 10+ days, some don't. Some require greater time commitments in some periods and less in other periods.

There's so much rigid thinking in the comments about this story.

Learn to focus on the most relevant aspects of the problem. Namely, a major life event is coming up - is there a reasonable plan in place to handle it? If yes, then proceed to follow your usual path of analyzing an investment.

It's funny how men get so irrational when faced with a woman's pregnancy.

I would say this though. It's incumbent on the founders to initiate this discussion. Just like it's important for an employee who is expecting to take significant time off to put in a request well in advance.

tldr; I don't care if you're planning to take two months off to go surfing or to have a kid. Just let me know how you plan to handle that and I'll evaluate your company on its merits.

This is a serious question as a woman who has never been pregnant and perhaps not that knowledgable about pregnancies. Doesn't giving birth render you incapacitated for a certain period of time even if everything goes well and there's no guarantee after giving birth things will return to normal. Even in cases where one's life isn't at risk, there's a high risk of postpartum depression, etc. It seems very unfair to me that women have to deal with such things. I hope one day women won't need to have periods without taking any additional health risks and also that it will be easier for women to have surrogate baby carriers.

Another serious question is wouldn't a nursery at work be disruptive if there is a lot of crying, etc. or how will it be set up so as not to bother people who are working.

It depends on the pregnancy and on the birth. Some women jump right up and get back into the swing of things. Most of us need recovery time. There is no safe assumption.

Speaking of assumptions, there is no reason to assume a CEO mother would have a nursery at work. She might well have a stay-at-home spouse (I do) or a parent or nanny or any number of things.

> Some women jump right up and get back into the swing of things.

Even 25 year olds in the shape of olympic champions take a week or so to be back in the full swing of things. The first few days are limited movement. A couple of weeks is more reasonable, particularly since two weeks of bonding is highly recommended (for both mother and father). Skin to skin! :)

I'm not saying there isn't a woman out there, somewhere, who had a kid at noon and was ready for work the next morning. But that's incredibly rare, certainly not anything to expect or plan for.

That being said, if a founder missing a few adequately planned for weeks of full time work kills a company it probably wasn't going anywhere anyway. Not that the investors would see it that way.

Sorry, I should indeed have specified "jump right up" as "a few days of recovery." Thanks for clarifying.

How long is the recovery time usually, I mean typically for the average woman? Also, I mentioned the nursery because in the post it said she would have a nursery at work.

It's a pretty wide distribution, which is my whole point. Also, "recovery" can be defined in a lot of different ways. A lot of people feel pretty decent at their six-week checkup, if they're not too sleep-deprived.

And sorry, I missed the reference to the nursery in the post.

I think you need to talk to your mom about a lot of this. ;)

"Incapacitated" is the wrong word. "Sleep deprived" because junior demands he be fed a couple of times during the night is more accurate.

Having an infant at the office would be very disruptive. Their cries are designed by Nature to be annoying to adults so that they get the attention they need.

I mean after giving birth isn't there a certain amount of time where one can't do much? One doesn't just give birth and hop right back up. For instance in my pilates class a woman who wasn't even visibly pregnant said she had to be careful because previously she had a miscarriage after doing pilates. So if even light exercising such as pilates, I can't imagine what more intense effort such as the stress of running a company would do to some people. But I guess it depends on the individual.

It depends on the woman and the pregnancy. Some women do bounce back right after childbirth, but my guess is that's the exception rather than the norm. The combination of healing from childbirth (which can be minimal to significant for vaginal deliveries, and is uncompromisingly significant for C-sections), the hormonal whiplash, the sleep deprivation, and the demands a newborn places on your time will almost certainly make it exceptionally difficult - though certainly not impossible - to be productive at much of anything.

Regarding stress and exercise during gestation, there's a lot of research that shows that high stress levels during pregnancy should be avoided, and high-impact exercise is generally out. Low-impact exercise is generally fine, though your doctor will tell you to avoid it if you have a high-risk pregnancy.

My mom was on a bowling team while carrying me. Unfortunately, none of that experience transferred across the womb, and I'm still mediocre at it. Having a c-section was common back then (I was born via one), so there is a recovery time with that, as the muscles knit back together.

Every woman is different. I have known women who have gotten right back into their exercise routine, and others who have taken a fair amount of time before becoming active again. Do what you're comfortable with, and talk to your doctor/mid-wife if you have questions.

It's not as though my doctor has time to answer my questions about random women. I prefer to spend my time with my doctor talking about my health. But given the changes to one's body during pregnancy and physical needs, etc, it seems reasonable to me, unfortunately to be cautious about investing in a woman who is pregnant.

I see the word "unfair" has been used at least 11 times in this HN discussion so far. I can somewhat understand the sentiment, but I can't also help but wonder if it could ever be unfair that the density of ruthenium is 12.2 g/cm^3, and not some other more convenient value.

Yes it is unfair. But society compensates by loading off some shitty jobs on men.

Maybe in the future it will be possible to grow babies in incubators. There is actually a force in action to make it likely: the attempt so save prematurely born babies. The more that technology advances, the more possible it will become to shorten pregnancies and have them carried out in the incubator instead.

Same thing could be caused by illness, physical injury, family issues, etc, etc.

I asked this question of the Boston VC community as a soon-to-be father, and the resounding advice was: "wait until the baby is at least a few months old"

There are a lot of logical reasons for this that you already know, so I'll just vouch for the emotional one, which is a style of thinking that's going to become more prominent in you as soon as you hold your child. I'm really glad I waited. Unless fundraising now is life-or-death for your company, I think you'll both be really glad if you wait, too.

I wrote an article about how my co-founder is pregnant and raising funding for our company, Sourcery. Investors are hesitant to bring up the issue in conversation for fear of coming off as an insensitive brute who questions a women's commitment to her company, but this is an important issue to address upfront. I try to lay out how we are preparing for this moment together.

Do you bring up the pregnancy when you meet with investors? I wonder if that would help or hurt compared to not mentioning it at all.

Some have tried to hide this, and there are links to such accounts. But, "Na’ama is direct. She’s not the kind of person to pretend about anything. In the third trimester, her condition is nearly impossible to hide anyway. And yet surprisingly, most investors have scrupulously avoided discussing the fact."

They may have avoided any mention for legal reasons.

Pregnancy is one of the protected classes. If they talk about it and then don't give you funding, there are potential repercussions, just as if they discussed religion, race, etc.

> Pregnancy is one of the protected classes.

AFAIK protected classes don't apply to investors.

I read that, but I can't tell if you meant that she's direct about it but waits until/if the investors bring it up, or if she brings it up with every investor, like Ms. Miller's adviser suggested.

This is a great question. It forces the greater question: Can you "Be Dedicated" and be more than one thing. Silicon valley seems to believe:

You can't be a CEO and pregnant.

You can't be a lead programmer and old (> 30).

You can't love both Linux and Windows.

You can't be Democrat and vote for a Republican.

How did we become so decided.

I've seen counter examples- plenty- for all of these- in Silicon Valley. Marissa was a pregnant CEO as was Anne Wojicicki. There are plenty more, as well. I'm > 30 and most of the lead programmers at my company are > 30 (I was a lead, then stepped down to IC role) with families. I love Linux and Windows and love both; I know other people who are happy with both OSes. And while democrats can't vote in republican primaries, they can vote in elections for members of either party.

"Dedicated" as an attribute requires many other things. But in this case (and your first example), it's a matter of days having only 24 hours. And it's much different than the rest of your post

The better question is: should you?

It's bad from the child: stress on the mother can be transferred to the development of the child.

It's bad for the investor: this founder won't be able to dedicate the requisite amount of time to the venture as another unpregnant founder would.

Any stress the mother suffers will be passed down to the baby...

"There are some data to show that higher chronic stressors in women and poor coping skills to deal with those stressors may be associated with lower birth weight and with delivering earlier," says Ann Borders, MD, MPH, MSc. She is an OB/GYN in the obstetrics and gynecology department, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, at Evanston Hospital, NorthShore University HealthSystem. (source http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/stress-marks)

That is the mother's concern. It is not remotely the concern of anyone she is doing business with.

These are societal and philosophical concerns. A child's physical development affects how they interact with society as they grow into adults. Should a pregnant woman be able to negatively affect her child's gestation because she can't wait three or six months to start a business? Additionally, should parents allow themselves to devote their attention to a startup over their children?

In my opinion: Things that only affect her (abortion included) - her business. Things that negatively affect anyone else - her children included - societal, varying on impact.

Your societal impact concerns are not specific to women. The same supposed issue arises in a situation where a male CEO is not present to be a father figure or role model for their child (thus condemning them to an inevitable life of crime and drug abuse... or whatever)

What's the actual long-term impact on the child?

I suggest you should do some research. I wouldn't take risks/ try any experiments though :)

If you have the "balls" to fundraise despite the fact that it shows you're pregnant, isn't that a good sign?

This is a thread of generalizations heaped upon already heavily beleaguered minorities, given that most people who suffer from these generalizations are women and trans men.

Here are some links, to pieces regarding people who have had kids and startups, really the only people who're qualified to comment on the subject, and you can choose to educate yourselves (or, you know, not):






This is your bonus piece: http://madamenoire.com/599068/pregnant-woman-finishes-psych-...

Finally, I'm going share a story about my friend from grad school who wrote her thesis while 7-9 months pregnant, landed a tenure track faculty position in the physics department of the university where she teaches straight out of grad school, gave birth, returned to successfully defend her thesis, and she currently has 2 incredible children and a 25-person lab. Her partner is a very talented chef. So, you know, two demanding careers.

I honestly don't even know what else to say, other than suggest that a better more fruitful question would be, "What can be done to help technical founders who are pregnant and/or have families?"

I recently discussed this with my girlfriend. I can only conclude that there are 2 sides to the story, let's call them 2 truths:

Truth 1: No individual (regardless of sex) can run a startup as a CEO if they are incapacitated somehow

Truth 2: Individuals (regardless of sex) need to prioritize. NOBODY can have it all.

With that in mind, women need to understand that: 1. They will be incapacitated if they get pregnant 2. They need to choose if they want to be CEO or a nurturing mother. Both cannot happen concurrently because the woman will be overwhelmed and do worse in both roles.

It is also unfair on both the child and investors to give only half of yourself. So choose one.

This also applies to men. A man cannot go become a CEO if he's broke and needs to feed his family. Go get a job and get rid of immediate concerns first so that you can give your best to both your family and investors.

If you have any women in your life that you respect I suggest you try to explain to them what they "need to understand" and get some honest feedback. Because you sound like you're talking from a place of deep ignorance.

> A man cannot go become a CEO if he's broke and needs to feed his family

Your biases are showing. But really, I'm not sure what you're saying here. People living in partnership with others can raise children AND do other things. This is not "having it all", this is working hard to make your life what you want it to be.

> Your biases are showing.

- As much as we want it, a man can never become pregnant. The woman will have to do the pregnancy part.

- As much as we want it, a pregnant woman can never work at her optimal. The man will have to do the optimal working part.

So, if the partnership desires a kid, it means pregnancy for the woman and for the man to provide stability in those times.

Is this a personal bias or reality?

As much as we want it, a man can never understand how ignorant he sounds explaining pregnancy in the abstract.

Pregnancy is one of many factors that play into your idea of "optimal" performance, alongside experience, intelligence, drive, etc. My wife did a lot of physically demanding labor and was more effective at her job than many non-pregnant coworkers right up to the day before she gave birth.

What is "Optimal Working" and why should we believe that anyone is doing it at the moment? I think you're chasing some fantasy perfection state that isn't really achievable

Here's an experiment:

Person A: A 6 ft man

Person B: A 5 ft man

In basketball, even if person B trains for 23 hours/day more than person A, he is impeded because of his height.

Is there a guarantee that person A will do better JUST because of his height? No

Is there a guarantee that person B will do better JUST because of more hours invested in training? No

But person A can train and become better whereas person B cannot change anything.

Such is the nature of physical differences.

Person B would be better served playing a sport that doesn't require height...aka, Basketball is not "Optimal" for person B.

Kudos to Naama! Would love to see some data eventually for interactions, to at least try to have a quantitative side to this too. Would be really interesting and could help guide other founders in a similar position.

This thinking in this thread is the reason women are leaving tech in droves.

The question is not whether you can fundraise, the question is whether you are physically and mentally fit during and after the birth to run a company with the level of stress, anxiety, etc. it will mean and the huge amount of time you will have to dedicate to it.


Please stop posting trollish comments to HN.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11361318 and marked it off-topic.


Evidence: Some children are raised by single fathers. It was only pretty recently that we managed to reduce the chance of death in childbirth for mothers to not-quite-terrifying levels.

Of course it is. Why wouldn't it be? Plenty of single fathers out there.

A quick google search shows, yes. Anecdotal, it's how I was raised.

Is that a serious question?

This thread is what it would be like if "The Vagina Monologues" were performed by an all-male cast in front of an all-male audience.

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