Julian Guthrie is a journalist-turned-author, covering such topics as Larry Ellison’s quest for the America’s Cup, and the new age of private space exploration. She gravitates to tales of underdogs and innovation, and her latest book is no exception.
“Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took on Silicon Valley's Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime” is the story of four women: Magdalena Yesil, Mary Jane Elmore, Theresia Gouw, and Sonja Hoel Perkins. Each of these rose – against the well-known odds of Silicon Valley – to the top of the game.
Well before “me too” these four women juggled work and family, overcame unequal pay, and faced the sexist attitudes prevalent in male-dominated Silicon Valley. Nevertheless, they rose to rewrite the rules of an entire industry.
Each story is amazing on its own. Magdalena Yesil, came from Turkey with $43 to her name, and would go on to help Marc Benioff build Salesforce.
Mary Jane Elmore went from the cornfields of Indiana to Silicon Valley and landed at the storied venture capital firm IVP - where she was one of the first women in the U.S. to make partner at a venture firm.
Theresia Gouw, Asian American from a working-class town, ultimately helped venture firm Accel Partners invest in firms like Google, Facebook, Imperva, Forescout, and Trulia.
Sonja Hoel Perkins, a Southerner, became one of the first women investing partners at white-glove Menlo Ventures, and invested in McAfee, Hotmail, Acme Packet, and F5 Networks.
In this wide ranging conversation, Julian shares her experience in writing this book, and previous books including “How to Make a Spaceship,” with a foreword by Richard Branson and an afterword by Stephen Hawking, and “The Billionaire and the Mechanic,” about Larry Ellison. We also discuss the current state of sexism in Silicon Valley, her predictions for the future, and the in-the-works adaptation of her book for television.