Yesterday AOL appointed Susan Lyne to lead The BBG Fund, a venture fund that will focus on early stage investments in women-led, consumer focussed internet start-ups. The fund will make seed and Series A investments, with a focus on multi-platform media, services and commerce. This isn’t AOL’s first foray into female focussed projects: MAKERS, Thrive, Global Motherhood and the Cambio/Girls Who Code program all launched within AOL and with this project as part of a broader initiative to bring more women and girls into tech.
Lyne, will leave her role as Executive VP and Chief Executive Officer of AOL’s Brand Group, but will remain based at the company’s New York City HQ and will report to AOL Chairman & CEO, Tim Armstrong.
The challenges facing women in technology are real. Only 7% of venture funding goes to women entrepreneurs, in part because only 4% of the partners at venture firms are women. 75% of consumer internet startups have zero women on the founding team; at enterprise software and hardware startups that number climbs to over 80%. And while the fraction of female Computer Science graduates increased in 2013 to 14%, it’s still significantly less than 1984 levels.
Since February 2013, Lyne has successfully overseen all aspects of AOL’s Brand Group growth strategy, including increasing traffic across properties, maximizing partnerships with advertisers and publishers, attracting top talent and returning the segment to profitability. Going forward Maureen Sullivan, President of Media Brands will continue to lead AOL.com as well as AOL’s lifestyle brands and money portfolio; Luke Beatty, President of Media Brands, will lead AOL’s technology, autos and entertainment properties as well as the Experimental Products team; and Arianna Huffington and Jimmy Maymann will continue to run The Huffington Post.
Prior to her career at AOL, Lyne served as Chairman of Gilt Groupe, Inc. an online fashion retailer, since September 2010 and as Gilt’s CEO from September 2008 to September 2010. Prior to that, she served as President, CEO and director of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. from 2004 to 2008.
Before joining MSLO, Susan served in various positions at The Walt Disney Company, including President, ABC Entertainment from 2002 to 2004, Executive Vice President, Movies & Miniseries, ABC Entertainment from 1998 to 2002, and Executive Vice President, Acquisition, Development & New Business, Walt Disney Motion Picture Group, from 1996 to 1998. Prior to joining Walt Disney, she worked for News Corporation Ltd. and K-111 Communications as Founder, Editor-in-Chief & Publication Director, Premiere magazine.
External links & references
- The many lives of Susan Lyne : Fortune
- AOL announces the girls are taking over : August 12 : CNBC
- Makers.com : The largest collection of women’s stories
- A woman in tech is as rare as a girl on a skateboard : The Guardian
- Reshma Saujani : Founder, Girls Who Code : Video, Makers.com