Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Serena Williams may be staging a comeback, Vladimir Putin reveals his stance on abortion after 17 years, and I dig into the Bitcoin boys’ club. Have a hygge-full weekend.
• Is Bitcoin a boys’ club? As the price of Bitcoin soared to record highs this week—$10,000, $15,000, then $17,000—the meteoric rise that turned early investors into paper billionaires fueled talk of how the cryptocurrency and its underlying technology, blockchain, could wholly remake the banking system. As MIT researchers argued in a Harvard Business Review article earlier this year: “Blockchain will do to the banking system what the Internet did to media.”
Among the many questions about the future of Bitcoin and its peers—Is it a bubble? Will it pop?—is whether the cryptocurrency industry, like its traditional predecessor, will be molded mainly by men.
Like so many other aspects of the relatively new and purposefully cryptic assets, an answer is difficult to pin down. There’s little data on the gender makeup of the field, but to the female investors, VCs, and entrepreneurs I spoke to, it feels like cryptocurrency is following in banking’s loafer-shaped footsteps. A few of the factors at play include:
- Investment attitudes: At their core, investments in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are just that: investments. And in every asset class that’s been studied so far, men take riskier bets than women—and cryptocurrency investing is nothing if not risky.
- The gender gaps in tech and finance: The crypto may be plagued by the same people problems that dog those industries overall: mostly male partners invest in mostly male teams, who then hire mostly male employees.
- Sexist stereotypes: “When I first joined the industry, I’d walk into a meeting and people would be like, you’re the PR chick,” one female VC told me. “There’s pervasive gender bias that’s in tech in general and that’s transferred over to Bitcoin.”
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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Williams of Oz. After having her first child during the U.S. Open, Serena Williams is reportedly ready to begin competing in January at the Australian Open, which she has officially entered. Winning that tournament would give Williams 24 Grand Slam singles titles in her career, tying the all-time record currently held by Margaret Court.
Wall Street Journal
• Putin is pro-choice. Vladimir Putin surprised the world yesterday, making his first public statement about abortion in 17 years. “In the modern world, the decision is up to the woman herself,” Russia’s president said in his annual marathon press conference on Wednesday. “Any attempt to suppress it would only push the practice underground, causing immense damage to women’s health.”
• 5 years later. Yesterday marked the five-year anniversary of Sandy Hook, the tragic mass shooting at an elementary school in Newton, Conn. Jennifer Hubbard, the mother of victim Catherine Violet Hubbard, pens a poignant tribute to her daughter.
• Today in #MeToo:
- Dustin Hoffman is being accused by two women of sexual assault and of exposing himself to a third (who was a minor at the time). Hoffman’s attorney called the accusations against the actor “defamatory falsehoods;” the Rain Man star himself did not comment. The news follows two earlier accusations.
- Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), who had been largely unscathed by the harassment allegations against him, has announced that he will not seek re-election. If he serves out his term, he will remain in office until January 2019.
- Shervin Pishevar, best known for his early bet on Uber, is severing ties with his VC firm, Sherpa Capital, after being accused of sexual misconduct (which he denies).
- The Great American Baking Show season three has been canceled by ABC as a result of the sexual harassment allegations against Johnny Iuzzini. The show judge and celebrity pastry chef has called the multiple accusations against him “sensationalized and simply not true.”
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Real estate firm Brown Harris Stevens has promoted Bess Freedman to co-president.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• No brands, lots of celebs. Brandless, the buzzy Tina Sharkey-led online retailer of generic consumer products, has had a star-studded second close of its $35 million Series B. Investors include basketball star Steph Curry, Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman, and Zuckerberg Media founder Randi Zuckerberg—just to name a few.
• Streep speeds up The Post. A little less than a year ago at the 2017 Golden Globes, Meryl Streep used her award acceptance speech to castigate then president-elect Donald Trump for his treatment of the press during the presidential campaign. That speech is reportedly a major part of the reason why The Post—a film about Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham confronting the decision to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971—is arriving in theaters a “breathtaking” six months after filming began. (Streep stars as Graham; the film hits theaters next Friday.)
• Pint of Bïeryonce, please. Lineup Brewing, owned by Katarina Martinez, launched a limited-edition brew called Bïeryoncé (Martinez is a big Beyoncé fan), that quickly sold out with beer-lovers, but was shut down by the music superstar’s legal team. Going forward, the beer will be named Kätariná, paying homage to “our badass female brewer and owner.”
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