How to Get Women to Support a Tech News Publication

An Open Letter to Jessica Lessin

I am one of your women subscribers. Today you sent out a letter pondering the question of why you didn’t have more women staff members or subscribers, and why your cost of customer acquisition is 40% higher for women.

I traded my subscription to The Wall Street Journal for one to The Information, and perhaps I can give one woman’s answer to that question. I want you to succeed, because I believe in your subscription model and I know that you do excellent and unusual tech/financial reporting. I learn from reading The Information.

As an entrepreneur and angel investor, I’m not the norm for a woman, but on the other hand I still belong to that gender, so here goes.

  1. First, most women don’t even know you exist. Neither do most men, even in your demographic. You operate in the bubble that is Silicon Valley and perhaps New York. There are other financial centers: how many of your subscribers are from London, Tokyo, Singapore? Omaha, Phoenix, or Sioux Falls. There are tech communities all over the world these days.

2. Second, perhaps the social platforms aren’t the best way to meet women, who are very reserved about they respond on Facebook, because social platforms are places where their privacy is violated all the time and they are harassed. It makes them distrustful of anything new.

You might do better with the AARP magazine (read by older women with money) or a philanthropy magazine (women are philanthropists and sit on charity boards, etc). Or any site that attracts GenX and Boomers. You’re expensive for most Millennials.

3.Financial institutions have the same problem you do; women are very careful about managing money, much more so than men. They know we outlive men, so we tend to be savers. We also have many conflicting financial responsibilities. For example, although I’m a major risk taker, unlike most women, and do invest in startups even at my “advanced age,” I also am saving for my grandson’s college education and helping other grandchildren with after school programs, etc. This leaves me with less disposable income. So I choose carefully what I do with my money although it sometimes does not look like it.

4.I admit I don’t remember everything you write, but I’m not sure I have seen anything specifically aimed at tech that impacts women. There has been much innovation in the digital health space, which again is a primary concern of women, who make most of the family health decisions. Likewise, there have been innovations in the fashion space (I read Jason Hirschorn’s Fashion Redef for an overview). For women, tech as tech may not be of interest, but tech as it improves their lives is a major interest, and they’d invest in tech they understand. Have you, for example, written about the collapse of the flash sale business, or the huge changes in eating habits from the convenience economy or the local, organic, non GMO trend? Much is going on there. (Robert Scoble can tell you that I pressure him about these topics all the time).

5. To summarize, for women it’s not all about drones, space, or self-driving cars. And it’s definitely not all about Facebook. Yes, we are interested in all this tech (who buys fitness bands?), but we lead rich, three-dimensional lives.

I wish you enormous success, and as I have told you many times, I admire The Information.