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Kevin O'Leary of 'Shark Tank' invests in 27 companies and says the only ones making money have female CEOs

Kevin o'learyCourtesy of Kevin O’Leary

Of the 27 companies in which “Shark Tank” star Kevin O’Leary is currently invested, all of the companies showing returns are led by women.

“All the cash in the last two quarters is coming from companies run by women,” he told Business Insider at a recent event for the startup Honeyfund, in which he is an investor. “I don’t have a single company run by a man right now that’s outperformed the ones run by women.”

O’Leary has 27 companies in his portfolio, he said, and 55 per cent have female CEOs. He has spoken about his faith in female CEOs in the past, but only discovered recently just how divided the numbers in his portfolio are in terms of gender.

He noted that not all of his woman-led companies are profitable, but some are — and none of the ones run by men are.

He asked one CEO why she thought the female-led companies were doing better.

“She said to me, ‘You know, if you want to get something done, give it to a busy mum,'” he recalled. “It kind of makes sense, right?”

We posited that maybe these companies’ success has to do with women being considered better at multi-tasking than men.

“It could be,” O’Leary said. “These are midrange companies in the sales range of $US5 to $US100 million, so that multitasking could be very important. Large corporations are a different thing, but when you’re doing venture investing like I am, it’s startup to mid-level. They have got to work their tails off. They have got to work like hell.”

O’Leary discovered this by accident. He asked his staff to see what all of the companies providing returns to his portfolios had in common, and they found that the companies returning on O’Leary’s investments were all led by women. 

Kevin o'leary lori greiner‘Shark Tank’/ABCO’Leary on ‘Shark Tank.’

“What’s interesting is that these are companies across multiple sectors,” he told BI. “One is a company in the food business. Another is in consumer goods. Another is a manufacturing company. One is a biotech company. They have nothing to do with each other, and yet, they’re still getting better returns.”

His portfolio has been divided roughly 50-50 in terms of female-male leadership for about six years, he said, but this had more to do with who had the best ideas, rather than gender.

“I just looked at deals,” he said. “I never looked at gender. I have no bias. I want to make money. I’m trying to find the path of least resistance with the best people I can find. I’m agnostic to where they came from.”

O’Leary never measured whose companies were more successful along gender lines before stumbling upon this recent finding. He is thinking about going back and taking a harder look at the trend over time.

Sara margulis honeyfund CEOtwitter.comSara Margulis, the CEO of Honeyfund.

O’Leary had just spoken at Honeyfund’s event in the Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar when we caught up with him. He was heaping praise on Sara Margulis, the CEO of Honeyfund, who is one of the female execs bringing in the bacon for O’Leary

Honeyfund is a startup that enables engaged couples to register for wedding gifts in the form of cash donations for honeymoon activities. The company also recently launched Plumfund, which opens the doors for other types of personal fundraising.

“This company’s on fire,” he said of Honeyfund, which he discovered on “Shark Tank.” “It’s basically doubling its platform with the Plumfund announcement. They have proven the model works with Honeyfund. I’m just pouring gasoline on the fire.”

He added another thought before we said goodbye.

“One thing’s for sure: we should be elevating women to the CEO position because we’re getting better returns,” he said. “You don’t need another reason in business. In my case, the numbers speak for themselves.”

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