A VC told three cofounders they were too old and too female to get funding

You’ve probably heard by now that Silicon Valley has a sexism and an ageism problem.

But it still might shock you how blatant it can be.

As part of a larger investigation into the stressful lives of tech workers over 50, Business Insider talked to a woman, 53, who had a horrible experience with Valley VCs when trying to raise money for her women-led startup.

This woman has a spectacular resume. She’s worked on everything from rocket science to being an exec for an IT consulting company that quadrupled its revenue to $US1 billion under her direction.

She left that senior management job to do a startup with two other women, a CEO in her early sixties and a COO also in her fifties. The CEO had been running a successful education company and wanted to spin-out the online unit into its own startup.

But when they tried to raise funding, the VCs they talked to turned them down flat.

“They told us, you’re a double whammy. You’re three women cofounders and you’re all in your 50’s or older, not a startup being run by a 20-something guy. They were blatant about it. They didn’t pull any punches. They weren’t trying to hide their reasons for saying no, or be subtle,” she told us.

What floored her even more was that these were VCs who considered themselves to be women-friendly, she said.

In the end, the CEO didn’t raise the money and was so discouraged she shut down the startup.

The 53-year-old got a job back in the corporate world working as an IT consultant.

Interestingly, as a woman in tech, she shrugs off that experience and has not been deterred by it, she says.

She’s been fighting, and winning, this kind of thing her whole career, she says. As a young woman it was almost worse, she says. She was constantly being told she was too young (or too young looking) to get choice assignments or promotions. That didn’t stop her either.

“I had to fight for it,” she said. “I had to be assertive. I had to raise my hand a couple of times and say, ‘I want a chance to do that!'”

She still thinks she’ll do another startup one day, but not if she has to depend on VC money to get it going.

“I’m going to retire in a couple of years. My plan is to be out at 55. I might do some startup stuff, something of my own,” she says. “The VCs’ negativity wouldn’t stop me.”

Read the full story on what life after 50 is like as a tech worker here.

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