blog If you’ve got even a cursory interest in Australia’s technology startup scene, you’ll be aware that at times there can be a remarkable similarity in the types of people who get involved. There are often two types — tech-type people and sales/business development-type people, both usually white, middle-class males. Tech industry writer Bronwen Clune debates the issue in a post on The Guardian Australia’s website last week, writing:
“… it’s time to question venture capitalists’ narrow-minded selection criteria that will result in the earth we will inherit looking a lot like the one we left behind. To venture capitalists, a future technology company founder looks the way he’s always looked: young, male and Ivy-League-educated. Zuckerberg, Mark II.”
Over on his own blog, Startup Focus, local IT startup industry Mick Liubinskas riffs on Clune’s post, arguing that the situation is more nuanced than Clune had written. He writes:
“… even if these things are true, none of them actually stop you if you really want to. Lots of companies grow without investors, so if you want to build a business that you’re not super passionate about, with a good salary, working reasonable hours and not try to change the world – great, go for it. I’m sure that some of investors fit the bill but I think to blame them a single group as culprits for lack of diversity and label them sinister, anti-family, sexist and racially prejudiced is unfair.”
To my mind, both arguments contain a part of the truth. Clune’s right: Australia’s IT startup scene is predominantly composed of white, middle class males, a physical form which venture capitalists usually identify with. But Liubinskas is also right: Things are more complicated than that in real life, and opportunities do abound for the passionate or determined, regardless of who they are. Perhaps the passion and diversity in this debate do much to illustrate the sector as a whole.